Out of Africa: Spreading Alzheimer’s Awareness in the Black Community

The Reverends Orville "O.B." & Beverly Baul

The Reverends Orville “O.B.” & Beverly Baul

This past February (2014), Reverend Beverly Baul, local Tulsa, OK co-pastor of Church Without Walls Outreach Ministry along with her husband, Reverend Orville Baul, hosted the tenth annual Out of Africa event. Each year, ministers, community leaders, Gospel singers, NFL players, actors, and many more in the Tulsa community as well as around the nation, come together to support Reverend Baul in her cause: spreading awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease in the black community.

New Gospel Artist, Michael Bethany, and "Still My Dream" singer and songwriter, Quedon Baul

New Gospel Artist, Michael Bethany, and “Still My Dream” singer and songwriter, Quedon Baul

 

Why Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is a matter very dear to the heart of Reverend Baul.

According to recent studies, African-Americans develop Alzheimer’s Disease more than their racial counterparts. Because of those statistics, the Out of Africa event was designed to educate and motivate the African-American community to better guard themselves from the increased risk of developing the disease. (Reverend Baul)

She goes on to say,

I wanted to honor our history and also raise more awareness of the higher risk of Alzheimer’s among African-Americans as well as lowering one’s chances of ever getting the disease.

With our community at such high risk, it is Reverend Baul’s hope that she will continue in her efforts of partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations that will assist us in educating our community. Reverend Baul explains,

I was hired by our local Alzheimer’s Association to reach the African-American community and help them to be successful in breaking the racial barrier…. Out of 88 chapters in the U.S., unfortunately, many are understaffed and may not have the individuals that are able to reach the many diverse populations within their own community.

Reverend Baul shared that the Tulsa, OK Alzheimer’s Association branch was given a faith-based grant to reach the black community. They were given her name and once hired, she was given three years to fulfill the grant’s intended goal. Combined with the ages of many who develop Alzheimer’s Disease, the strained racial history of the Tulsa community, and general distrust of the government held by some of the elderly, it is not hard to understand why those in need of these funds and the assistance it can bring would be hesitant to accept any sort of government assistance. This was the misunderstanding and resistance that Reverend Baul was met with.

But then, God gave her an idea: Out of Africa.

She made the personal effort to reach out to countless churches inviting them to partner with her in her efforts by offering trainings, health fairs, combined with the February Black History Month event and the attendance grew from 450 to 850. Her efforts also included keeping the business in the black community. She has hosted the event at the Greenwood Cultural Center which is located in the historical Greenwood District where the 1929 Race Riots took place. Many local sponsors, professionals, vendors, and more within the community also take part in the event.

Celebrity & Artistic Elements

Many notable as well as up-and-coming figures have expressed interest and taken part in Out of Africa.

Throughout our 10 years of celebrating Out of Africa, we have been fortunate in presenting the community with nationally known speakers and gospel artists such as Cheryl Martin from the BET Network, Gospel legend Twinkie Clark, Michael Bethany, Sunday Best’s Durward Davis, Earl Clark, and many other local talents. (Reverend Baul)

Reverend Baul has also proven herself to be quite the playwright!

We have also presented three original plays “Take Me Back,” “Love Until it Hurts,” and “This is My Story” for individuals who have been diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s Disease, and their caregivers and family members who are struggling daily to assist their loved ones.

This year’s event also featured an original–and I might add, phenomenal–song by singer, Quedon Baul, entitled “Still My Dream.” The plays are not only moving, but an opportunity to showcase local talent.

Tulsa-born, Felix Jones, and GT Columnist abnd fellow Tulsan, Marquay Baul

Tulsa-born, Felix Jones, and GT Columnist abnd fellow Tulsan, Marquay Baul

Teaming with the NFL

Marquay Baul, son of the Reverend Baul, fellow Gospel Today columnist, and this year’s Out of Africa emcee has this to say of the event:

The 2014 Out of Africa event was a major success. It was an honor to be apart of such a well-needed event. With the Alzheimer’s Disease affecting so many minorities, especially the African-American community, participating as one of this year’s hosts and emcees was fantastic. Also having good friends and clients from the NFL join us to participate in our tenth year celebration made it even more special.

Based on information from the national Alzheimer’s Association, and to our knowledge and research, this is the only African American Alzheimer’s event of this type and magnitude in the nation. It has also demonstrated its effectiveness consistently since its inception.

Felix Jones II, philanthropist and professional running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as Chris Harris Jr., AFC Champion, Modern Woodmen of America Hometown Hero award-winner, and starting cornerback for the Denver Broncos, were our special guests. Unfortunately Mr. Harris wasn’t able to attend this year due to surgery from an injury prior to the Super Bowl. Mr. Jones’ charity, Running Back to Make a Difference, and Chris Harris Jr.’s Foundation were also presenting sponsors.

Having NFL players involved in our efforts are key. According to current research conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, “Findings show that memory-related diseases appear to be significantly more common among NFL players, including a 19-fold higher rate among men ages 30 through 49.”

Awareness, education, and action are the tools needed to help prevent this terrible disease from spreading and to have NFL players joining the fight against this growing disease is huge.

Making Moves!

As aforementioned, this year is Out of Africa’s tenth annual anniversary! It’s been a wonderful journey for Reverend Baul and she has no intention of stopping. In fact, she’s making plans to expand!

Our hope for the Out of Africa event is to make it a national movement. We are looking for partners across the nation, that will help sponsor the event and assist our organization in educating the African-American communities in every state. (Reverend Baul)

This year, they’ll be taking Out of Africa to Wichita, Kansas and they’ve been invited to Denver, CO where she’s been invited by Chris Harris Jr. as well as by Twinkie Clark to Detroit, MI. They are also hoping to break into Texas as well.

Local Tulsan, Kim Graham, and NFL running back, Felix Jones.

Local Tulsan, Kim Graham, and NFL running back, Felix Jones.

If You’d Like to Partner with Out of Africa…

The event is especially designed to assist in the education and public awareness of diverse populations, especially the African-American community. Pastors and congregations can benefit by gaining knowledge about the Alzheimer’s disease to assist with their outreach ministries to the sick and possibly shut in members. (Reverend Beverly Baul)

If you’re looking to partner with Reverend Baul and bring Out of Africa to your local church, community center, college campus, etc., then please call the Alzheimer’s Diversity Outreach Services at 918.514.3154 or email at info@alzoutreach.org. You may also reach out to learn about their various services.

Desiree M. Mondesir is the Managing Editor for Gospel Today. She pens The Hostess List and Godly Government columns. She is also the author of Godly Government (@GodlyGovernment), Kingdom Mandates, Faith and the Imagination, and How to Write Fiction That Doesn\’t Suck. She is also the CEO and Founder of Desired Assistance virtual writing and editing company including its creative branch, iSubCreate. Desiree loves using her gifts to inspire others as well as encourage and motivate them to pursue their own God-given dreams. To learn more about Desiree, please connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You may also subscribe to http://DesireeMMondesir.com to get your free copy of Godly Government!

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