News Story

The Wingbackers Are Back

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Wingbackers chat before the meal begins.

Wingbackers chat before the meal begins.
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RAs fill their plates at the buffet.

RAs fill their plates at the buffet.
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The Rutlands greet one of the new Wingbackers.

The Rutlands greet one of the new Wingbackers.
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Dr. Rutland speaks to Wingbackers and RAs.

Dr. Rutland speaks to Wingbackers and RAs.
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RAs and their new Wingbackers pose for a photo.

RAs and their new Wingbackers pose for a photo.

From 1988-2002, the Wingbackers program was a way for past ORU students to connect with current ones, by "adopting" wings and giving on-campus residents a home away from home. This year, the ORU tradition is back, and alumni are enthusiastic about the chance to provide a place of fellowship and mentorship for students.

The Wingbackers program consists of alumni, former and current staff, and faculty and friends of ORU that have been matched with the 74 wings on campus. Their purpose is to be a surrogate family for ORU students who may not be able to see mom and Dad as often as they would like.

"Wingbackers can have them over for devotions or invite the brother and sister wing for a cookout at the park, participate in intramurals by playing or cheering them on and just offer fellowship and socialization," Alumni Relations Director Natalie Bounds-Adams 88 said. "Find out what the wing does, what they like, and mesh in with that."

A Wingbackers committee made up of the deans of men and women, alumni volunteers--Jeremy 03 and Sarah 02 Wright, Steve Tumpkin 88 and Carrie Witham 80-- and the Alumni Relations staff brainstormed to revive the concept and once again make it a successful and structured program for both alumni and students for years to come.

Witham remembers what it was like her first year in college to be in a new place with her family miles away.

"I was only 16 years old when I was a freshman at ORU and was far away from home. I would have loved to have had a Tulsa family that I could call or visit," Witham said.

More than 200 alumni and resident advisors gathered on the Mabee Center Mezzanine Aug. 25 to meet for the very first time. Wingbackers immediately began planning Girls Nights Out, Superbowl parties and retreats with student leadership.

"Each wing is different, so in the past when we have done this, we will see what they want to do," Arthur 92 and Noell Greeno said. "We are open to whatever direction they give us. We have found that most ORU students just want a 'home' to go to when they are away from their own, so we will have the door open for them whenever they want it."

Rick 77 and Shelley Fenimore were a part of the original Wingbackers program, so when they heard it was starting up once again, they jumped onboard.

"It gives ORU students the opportunity to 'fast forward' and see what life is like after ORU," Rick said. "It allows the alumni to get reconnected to ORU and gives them a pulse on what the students expect from an ORU education."

While it is made up of a lot of fun and games, the Wingbackers program is so much more. Whether students need a big brother's advice, a mom to cry with, or a friend to listen, alumni hope to empower and encourage them through the relationships built.

"We want them to know that they are not alone, that other people have been where they are," Jeremy and Sarah Wright said. "College can have some hard times and some really great times. We want to be there during both, lending them support and encouragement when they need it and praise and congratulations for their successes."

Not only will students benefit, but the alumni involved are finding Wingbackers to be the perfect way to invest in the future of ORU.

"What we hope to take away from this is the importance of being an active alumnus who gives back to ORU after they graduate," the Wrights said. "Once you are a part of ORU, you are always a part of ORU. We all can make ORU stronger as a school, with a more nationally known presence. The better ORU does, the better your degree, and the better ORU's message of Christ's love reaches the world."

Top Ten Perks of the Wingbackers Program

10. "It's a place to come if they need time away from college." Arthur 92 and Noell Greeno

9. "I hope to attend hall meetings, share at devotions, attend some volleyball games, open my home for sleepovers, TV night, study night and send birthday cards." Carrie Witham 80

8. "We hope to give the students on both wings a place to come that reminds them of their homes." Rick 77 and Shelley Fenimore

7. "We would like to provide our wing with mentorship spiritually and practically." Dave 01 and Shelly 02 McIntosh

6. "It's a way to give back to ORU." Arthur 92 and Noell Greeno

5. "We are praying for them and believing in them to grow in the Lord and to hear His call." Christina 86 and Allen 84 Voth

4. "I think this program is beneficial for networking with alumni to help with the future workforce." Dave 01 and Shelly 02 McIntosh

3. "We hope to give the students a supportive relationship from individuals who understand the special challenges of being a college student." Henry and Mari 86 Migliore

2. "Free Food!" Rick 77 and Shelley Fenimore

1. "We hope that we can transfer what ORU has done in our lives to the future graduates so that they may give their time when they are done as well." Dave 01 and Shelly 02 McIntosh

See more photos from the dinner by clicking here.