Lunch with Tom Taylor
Executive director, Emergency Infant Services • Time: 11:45 a.m. • Date: Jan. 11 • Place: Edward Delk’s
Tom Taylor hasn’t been in Tulsa long, but he’s already dived into both his new job and his new city with enthusiasm — renting a place at the trendy Metro in the Brady Arts District, trying downtown restaurants and joining community groups such as the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice’s Leadership Roundtable.
It’s not too great a leap. Although he grew up in Enid, Taylor is the son and grandson of Tulsans, and he is re-familiarizing himself with a city he fondly remembers visiting as a youngster.
And he hasn’t come far to take his new job as executive director of Emergency Infant Services (EIS). He spent the last 18 years in Oklahoma City, where he obtained his master’s in business administration from Oklahoma City University. He was also a volunteer, board member and then executive director of that city’s suicide prevention hotline and HeartLine Inc., a 211 program for 70 Oklahoma counties. He’s a 2010 graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City as well.
In short, he knows the drill and is ready to promote “a happier mission,” he says: helping families with small children.
Although not a father, he is the doting uncle of a new niece, which brings home to him the many needs of babies and piqued his interest in the EIS job. He also liked the mission of providing direct services and truly knowing that you have helped someone.
When we lunched at the noisy and busy Edward Delk’s near East Fourth Street and South Boston Avenue, photographer Michelle Pollard and I peppered him with questions about EIS and its mission.
Taylor says 85 percent of those who use EIS’ services are the working poor, people struggling to make ends meet and occasionally needing “a hand up,” he says, which the nonprofit can provide each family four times a year. The agency serves infants to age 5, providing diapers, formula, gently used clothing and sometimes baby equipment.
Since 2008, its client list has doubled — to 13,725 — and EIS gives away more than 225,000 diapers a year. Part of the increase, of course, has been the economy, people losing jobs or who are under-employed.
Another reason for the jump may be EIS’ new location at West Third Street and South Houston Avenue, Taylor adds. It’s just a couple of blocks from the bus depot and other helping agencies, including The Salvation Army and the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless.
A mother of two toddlers, Pollard wanted to know how she and other parents can help. Taylor quickly noted that EIS never has enough of the basic baby equipment: car seats, cribs, high chairs. Precious commodities, they come in and go out the same day to needy parents. Touchingly, most of these parents return the items after they are finished with them, he says, to do their part to help others like them.
So, to all of you whose children have graduated to a big-kid bed and a seat at the table, here’s a great place to recycle those goods.
As EIS celebrates its 35th year, Taylor tells us, the agency is also freshening up its look with a new logo and slogan, “Lifesavers for little ones.” Yet “the philosophy hasn’t changed in 35 years,” he says. “The tiniest victim of circumstances … shouldn’t go to bed hungry.”
No, they shouldn’t. Not ever.
More about Tom:
- He is an international traveler. While a student at Phillips University, he spent a semester in Sweden and during that time visited 16 countries.
- After living in central OKC, as a downtown Tulsan he’s primed to buy a bike and find a route to River Parks.
- He’s a big fan of Mexican food.
- He loves to cook — and adds his own touches to dishes. He has a picante chicken recipe that includes espresso tequila.
Five things Tulsans may not know about children in need:
- Every night 1 in 4 children in Tulsa County goes to bed hungry.
- In the City of Tulsa, 1 in 3 children lives below poverty level.
- Approximately 82 percent of children in the Tulsa Public Schools system receive government food assistance.
- EIS has more than doubled the number of children served in just four years.
- EIS believes in minimizing the hardships of the working poor and the long-term effects on children.
Five ways to help EIS meet clients’ needs:
- Donations of diapers, formula and/or gently used clothing or baby equipment
- Donations of gently used car seats, baby beds and high chairs
- Financial assistance — $10 will buy 20 jars of baby food; $25 will buy 125 diapers; $100 will cover the cost of a new crib or car seat.
- Celebrate EIS’ 35th anniversary by helping the agency spread the word. Visit www.eistulsa.org or “like” EIS on Facebook.