Fifteen volunteers from First Baptist Church of Shawnee dedicated many hours to help renovate Oklahoma Baptist University's Potter Auditorium in Raley Chapel. The group fastened armrests to the auditorium's 1,700 chairs.
When Potter Auditorium was renovated several years ago, the armrests were not properly installed. The loose armrests could be easily dropped, causing distractions during OBU's weekly chapel service. The volunteers set out to alleviate the problem.
Armed with drills and screwdrivers, the 15 volunteers went from chair to chair, row to row, until they had fastened every armrest to every chair. The group members were on their backs to perform the work, moving throughout the auditorium while lying down.
First Baptist member Bill Donovan headed the volunteer team. Donovan had approached OBU campus minister Dale Griffin looking for ways to serve the University. Griffin directed Donovan to OBU's Global Outreach coordinator, who offered Donovan opportunities to serve involving teaching and training. After completing those tasks, Donovan approached Griffin again, specifically requesting to serve through manual labor.
"It's a way for me to keep busy, and it's a way for me to provide service to OBU," Donovan said.
Griffin proposed the need for the armrests to be fastened to the chairs in Potter. Donovan asked his church to help with the project.
"He had a significant group of men say they wanted to come," Griffin said.
After fastening the armrests, Donovan approached Griffin for more ways to serve the University. Donovan gladly accepted a project to design a new more efficient podium. The existing podium had needed repairs several times throughout the years and was too short for guest speakers.
Donovan created an informal, adjustable podium for Potter Auditorium.
"He came up with an amazing design," Griffin said.
The podium Donovan created is stained green and gold to compliment the university colors. He also agreed to create another podium that will be stained to match the existing woodwork in the auditorium.
"The bottom line is, he has chosen to do this on his own as a gift and has said to me that when this project is finished he is interested in finding other ways to serve the university in very practical ways," Griffin said. "He has turned into a great friend personally and a friend to the university."