Robert “Bobby” Droke
Youth At Heart, Tulsa
Robert “Bobby” Droke began volunteering with Youth At Heart’s 21st Century Program at Walt Whitman Elementary School in May 2017. It would be easy to mistake Droke for a paid staff member because he can be found giving high fives, assisting in a classroom, cleaning, serving snacks, and doing whatever needs to be done during the summer and school year.
“Youth at Heart selected Bobby for Outstanding Mentor because of his faithful service and commitment to our after-school and summer programs,” said Programs Director Kelvin Bonner. “He rarely misses a day and always has a smile as he serves the students in the program.”
After faithfully serving 23 years in the U.S. Army, Droke spends his retirement giving back to the program, which his daughter Da'Mireah attends. He started volunteering during the summer and then continued working in the school year, consistently serving eight hours a day, four days a week. “He is an inspiration because he is literally almost like a paid staff member since he volunteers his time with the program on a daily basis,” Bonner said. Droke seeks to make the load easier for the staff and to make a positive impact on the close to 100 students who are enrolled in the afterschool and summer program. No job is too big or small for him. He enjoys cleaning, giving out snacks and meals, and assisting in classrooms where needed.
“Bobby especially likes to interact with the boys who come through the meal line because he knows many of them do not have positive male role models,” Bonner said. “He will often find out what their favorite sports teams are and keep them updated on scores and team information as a way to connect with them.”
Droke volunteered with the program to spend more time with his daughter, but ended up becoming a mentor to nearly every child in the program. He says volunteering helps him live out his core values and cultivate his leadership skills.
“Bobby seeks to put a smile on faces that look sad and do his best to ensure the students are having a great day,” Bonner said. “He definitely sets a good example for his daughter in how he cheerfully serves others.”About the Program: Youth At Heart is a leader in providing programs in education, recreation and social development to youth in the Tulsa area. Since 1976, Youth At Heart has provided youth living in Tulsa’s socio-economically challenged neighborhoods a variety of after-school programs that include tutoring, character training, youth mentoring, health and fitness training, sports leagues, career exploration, community service and summer camp.