In the 1930s in movies featuring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, the solution to any problem was to put on a show.
In today’s oil patch, the solution might be a golf tournament or a sporting clay event. The show might have evolved, but the goal is the same – to raise money and lift spirits.
That’s the mission of Oilfield Helping Hands (OHH), a non-profit organization that raises money through a variety of events and distributes it to families in financial need. Founded in late 2003, the organization has assisted 100 families and distributed more than US $928,000 in financial aid.
Richard Saxon, an investment management consultant for Raymond James Financial Services Inc. and a former president of OHH, said the genesis of the organization was an employee who had worked for Baroid for 38 years and suddenly had to be hospitalized. “His friends got together months after he’d gone into the hospital and put together a fund-raiser, a sporting clay event,” Saxon said. “His wife didn’t know anything about it. They raised $23,000, showed up at the hospital, and gave her a check. She was completely blown away.
“It wasn’t the money that did it; it was the fact that they were there for her. That’s the way OHH is today. We are there for the families when they need it the most.”
The group relies mostly on corporate and individual sponsorships for its events, and Saxon said that a successful event can raise more than $100,000. Recently, Hunting Energy provided OHH with a grant that will enable it to help families anywhere in the oil patch, not just the Houston area. This will allow OHH the opportunity to reach out to more families in need throughout the US.
Candidates for grants must have worked or studied to work in the upstream segment of the industry for five years and must been in financial crisis through no fault of their own. Typically this is due to an illness, but one of the upcoming events has been created to address an emergency situation – it is dedicated to the employees and families of employees who were on the Deepwater Horizon when it caught fire. Saxon said that half of the funds raised will go to the families in need and the other half will be put in an education fund for the children of the employees.
Right now, a primary goal of OHH is simply to raise awareness of its existence. “The companies don’t know that we’re there, they don’t know what we do, and they don’t know how to get funding for people in need,” Saxon said. He added, though, that once OHH holds a meeting at a company’s office and tells its story, “that company is all in.”
One company that has recently begun to champion OHH is Black Elk Energy, an independent oil and gas operator based in Houston. CEO John Hoffman said that one of the founding principles of his company is to give back to the community, and Black Elk has been doing that successfully for several years through its support of Louisiana Association of Community Action Partnerships and other charities such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. As the company has seen phenomenal growth in the past few years, more than doubling in size and scope, Hoffman felt Black Elk could be doing more.
“It’s become apparent that there’s a community in pain, and it’s the oilfield community,” Hoffman said. “It’s a small community, but it’s very close to our hearts.”
Hoffman welcomes the opportunity to work with OHH, not just through donations but also “sweat equity” – volunteering to help with events, providing outreach during the fundraising period, and sharing the story of OHH with others in the industry. “We use these types of activities as Black Elk team-building,” he said. “It’s good for everyone to give back to the community. It feels good, it brings our team closer together, it defines us more clearly as a family, and it fosters the kind of culture we want at Black Elk.”
The Deepwater Horizon event will be held Sept. 24-25 at the Bentley Ranch, 3525 Bowser Rd., Fulshear, Texas. Two days later OHH will hold a golf tournament at the Black Horse golf club in Houston. Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are still available for both events.
For more information, visit www.oilfieldhelpinghands.org.
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