MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 27, 2013

Items tell stories of Groom’s journeys

Mission work has taken Kids’ Space advocate around world

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Lindsay Groom’s front room is a museum of her various interests and all the places she’s been.

“Everything here has a story, kind of like a museum,” she said.

Along one wall are pictures of the many places she visited during the seven years she spent as a community development worker with a Christian organization, Youth With a Mission.

Such work sent Groom around the world and helped develop her commitment to helping others.

At age 31, the Muskogee native is back home, working as a Kids’ Space family/victim advocate to help children and their families cope with sexual abuse.

Through her involvement in Christian organizations and with Kids’ Space, Groom said she has discovered that people of all classes have needs.

“There are a lot of people out there who are needy but still have plenty to eat,” she said.

Groom got her first taste of foreign aid work when she was at Southern Methodist University. Through a church in Corpus Christi, Texas, she did church work in Tuxpan, Mexico, after her first year of college.

“In Tuxpan, I saw people who were different than me who needed the help I could give them, even if it was just talking,” Groom recalled. “I was a translator on that trip — my Spanish was much better then — and I began to see how you can make a difference.”

Groom said she took two mission trips while in college.

Later, a friend from high school encouraged her to get involved with Youth With A Mission. She left college and spent most of her 20s going around the world with the organization.

“That was my life. I sort of lived out of a suitcase for several years,” she said.

Countries she visited included Scotland, England, Latvia, Morocco, Spain, even Afghanistan.

Meet Lindsay Groom

AGE: 31.

HOMETOWN: Muskogee.

CAREER: Family/victim advocate at Kids’ Space.

EDUCATION: Richard King High School, Corpus Christi, Texas, 1999. Attended Southern Methodist University. Seeking degree in criminal justice from Regent University online.

FAMILY: Parents, Terry and Theresa Groom; sister, Charlie Kate; two dogs, Emma and Deets.

RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: “Follower of Jesus. That’s how I always say it. I don’t consider myself in any denomination.”

HOBBIES: Play guitar, sing, travel, read.

Learning to do

the right thing

Lindsay Groom said she grew up in a family that was “always involved in social justice and caring for others.”

Civil rights runs deep in the family.

“My grandmother Doris Ricketts was involved in the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) and setting up Head Start,” Groom said. “When I was a kid, we always could have an opinion. That was always instilled in us, most of all, that we mattered.”

Groom said her grandfather on her father’s side was a counselor with Muskogee Public Schools who worked with low-functioning kids.

“We’re Christians. We love God. That’s what we do,” she said, adding how fortunate she was to have parents who lived what they said.

“My mom was in a contest back in the 1960s, but she dropped out because the contest didn’t allow blacks,” she said. “We always called my mom Honest Abe.”

She said Jesus is her main inspiration. So is the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I admire his consistency,” Groom said. “My parents were young when Martin Luther King was active, and they were influenced in a positive way by him. That’s how we were raised.”

Groom said she admired the consistency her parents displayed in their work and activities.



Becoming an

advocate for kids

Groom said she “kind of fell into” her job as a family/victim advocate at Kids’ Space, the Muskogee County Child Advocacy Center. Kids’ Space seeks to offer a coordinated, community response to victims of child abuse or sexual assault and to non-offending caregivers.

She said she had just returned to Muskogee from overseas and was staying with her parents.

“My aunt worked at the Nonprofit Resource Center and said Kids’ Space was hiring,” Groom recalled. “I wanted to work somewhere in child advocacy, but I was not sure what it was.”

She recalled calling the Kids’ Space director, introducing herself and admitting that she was not qualified for the job. However, she landed a position as a volunteer coordinator, which she held for a year and a half.

Groom spent six months in Texas on a consulting job but returned to Muskogee. While interviewing for another job, she visited friends at Kids’ Space and landed the job she has now.

As a family/victim advocate, Groom handles many client services and facilitates education services.

“We have a protective parenting program with the Department of Human Services,” she said. “It helps parents when they try to regain custody of their kids. It’s like sexual abuse awareness. It gives parents the opportunity to better take care of their kids.”



The eye of

an artist

Groom entered Southern Methodist University wanting to be in journalism. She recalled being especially interested in advertising and graphic art.

“I was into Pagemaker and Adobe, which was kind of new and exciting at the time,” she said. “I took that trip to Mexico and everything got flipped upside-down.”

Not quite everything.

Groom still looks at things with an artist’s eye. Now, however, she turns her artistry to her home.

“I like to put together a room,” she said.

She mounted and framed many of the pictures she took from her travels.

“Viva’s sold my pictures for a while,” Groom said, referring to a women’s clothing store that was in Muskogee. “They were pictures from Paris of the Arc de Triomphe.”

Rooms in Groom’s house show various aspects of her life. Each room has its own color. A bathroom is in black and white. The front living room is gray. The dining room is a deep red. The kitchen is yellow with one orange wall. The inside hall brightens things up with turquoise – “my favorite color,” she said.

She also has a collection of crosses from her travels. She has so many that friends have begun giving her crosses. She puts a note on each one as a reminder of the giver.

Q&A

HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?

“My parents were both born here. When I came back from the Youth With a Mission, I came here because that’s where my family was. This will always be family headquarters — Muskogee, America.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?

“A sense of community. I lived in New York City, and what I liked were its small communities. Everyone has a story here. Plus, it’s home. I spent every Christmas of my life here. I like having four seasons.”

WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?

“If people would stay more local. If people put more into the community. More people need to come home, need to come back.”

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?

Family/victim advocate at Kids’ Space.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?

“What else can I do, basically make a little bit of a difference. I read a lot, spend time with my friends. I like movies, shopping.”

WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?

“My grandfather Bill Ricketts. He is the American Dream. He came from nothing and made a life for himself and his family. He is the most generous person I have ever known.”

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?

“The friends I have made, and the relationships, especially in my work . My work is my life.”

HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?

“I think it’s cozy.”