A UPS driver who has turned her home into an after-school safe house for disadvantaged children has won the company’s annual Jim Casey Community Service Award.
Valerie Tillis opened her house to local teens after her son, Willis Saddler, was shot and killed in the summer of 1996 in a case of mistaken identity.
Her goal is to keep teenagers off of the streets and away from gang activity.
At Bookie’s Place, as she calls the safe house, teenagers can do homework, socialize safely with each other, and meet with adult mentors.
“My vision is to give these kids hope,” says Tillis. “Studies show that 40 percent of juvenile crime is committed right after school. I wanted to provide help with homework, a computer center, snacks, counseling services, sports – whatever these kids need.”
The UPS Foundation recently gave Bookie’s Place a $100,000 grant to buy, renovate and equip a new building that can serve as many as 89 children. Many Tulsa-area UPS employees have volunteered to help with fundraising and renovations.
The UPS Foundation funds programs in human welfare, education, and volunteerism. One of the foundation’s largest projects is the Volunteer Impact Initiative, a two-year, $2 million program to help nonprofits better recruit and manage volunteers.