Wings of Freedom

Oral Roberts University's Branding and Promotions classes are getting real-world experience and at the same time changing lives through a classroom assignment. The students have adopted a client with whom they may practice their newly-acquired skills. That client is Wings of Freedom.

Wings of Freedom is a faith-based sober living program that touches lives of otherwise hopeless people in the Tulsa area. Since 2001, hundreds of addicts, alcoholics and ex-offenders have been set free from the captivity of drugs and drink through the program. Members are introduced to new, healthy and productive lifestyle choices through Biblical teaching, staff example and a peer support system.

Students, under the direction of ORU Assistant Professor Chris Putman, are building a promotional package to raise awareness for Wings of Freedom. Students with clipboards and surveys in hand will conduct research on the target audience to gather insight on public awareness and opinion, write press releases and public service announcements to gain exposure, design ads and brochures, plan guerrilla marketing, design a fundraising presentation and then compile their promotional recommendations into a plans book for the organization to utilize.

Because online presence is key nowadays, the students are posting message updates, pictures and videos of their activities on the Wings of Freedom Facebook site. Another tactic to get the word out the class is using is to dramatically drive up the organization's Facebook fans.

The Wings of Freedom program was started by a man who had firsthand experience with the destructive lifestyle of addiction but through faith in God overcame bondage. Because of his inspirational recovery, he now desires to touch other lives in a payback fashion.

"When someone reached out to me with the love of God and gave me a second chance in life, it created a burning passion in my heart to do the same," Wings of Freedom Founder and Director Dixie Pebworth said. "When I see through Wings of Freedom a life once held captive by darkness set free, return to society as a productive citizen, sober, working, responsible and with family relationships restored, it brings me great joy. When I see those who have completed the Wings program step up to help others overcome the very issues they themselves once had, I know in my heart our mission and purpose is truly being fulfilled."

Former Wings of Freedom member Joanne Sanders must reinforce Pebworth's faith in that payback philosophy. She not only has completed the program and has seen complete recovery, but she is now a mentor.

"When I came into the Wings Program, I had no hope and my children were gone, but coming into this program and focusing on God, helped bring all those things back," Sanders said. "I graduated from Wings in September 2005, and I've been a mentor since. Now, it's so rewarding to see other people come through Wings and change their lives."

So how did the Oral Roberts University Branding and Promotions class become involved with such an unlikely program? Word of the program fell on the ears of a university professor who is always on the lookout for a good cause.

"Each year I seek out a nonprofit organization my students can adopt as their client for the semester," Putman said. "When I secured Wings of Freedom as this year's class client, I knew I found an organization my students could believe in and work for with conviction. I enjoy having a real-world organization on which my students can practice their skills, help a credible organization and touch lives all while earning college credit."

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