Volunteer Spotlight: Don Oliver

Don Oliver

Don Oliver

Two years ago, when The Men’s Corner first appeared in the Global Market, creator Don Oliver was excited and apprehensive. This was a new level of participation for the long time PAMBE Ghana supporter who has a history of creative involvement in the community.

Don first heard of PAMBE Ghana through board member Jane Wheeler, who works out at the gym he owns: Don’s DO Fitness at 5118 N Shartel. She was looking for a performance venue for the African singer and dancer Kaberic, who was making promotional appearances throughout OKC on behalf of PAMBE Ghana a few years back. Anyone who knows Don knows he can’t say no to dance. Or to music. And if he can learn something in the process, he’s there. And if he can also be altruistic? He’s right in front of you. Don opened his spacious and bright exercise room to a crowd of all ages, and thus began this warm and rewarding partnership.

Don is one of the world’s creative people. He says he’s always been a dancer. He taught dance throughout his high school years in Guthrie, OK, and during his college years at the University of Central Oklahoma. At his gym, he incorporates dance moves into his step classes. Don has a strong sense of design, which he tapped to create the industrially chic space for his fitness center. He’s also a musician, playing drums in club gigs with bands. But then he picked up the harmonica.

“I started playing straight harp, which is when you’re playing the exact notes of the song,” explained Don. “A friend said I should learn cross harp, when you play a note that is harmonically balanced with another note: Four steps above the key of the band.”  Don never looked back. “I hear it and I feel it,” he said. “You’re flying between the guitarist and vocals. You can move in between them or back them up or mimic them – you can do anything. It’s a blast.”

Don still plays the occasional band gig. He also loves to go out dancing (you can catch him out on the floor somewhere on most weekends). But he puts a lot into his business and into his community, donating his time to PAMBE Ghana and other nonprofits. “I’ve always been taught to make the world a better place,” says Don. “Whether it’s volunteering or running my business or doing a job, if people feel good about themselves, this just goes out into the world.”

For the Men’s Corner, Don spends hours shopping fair trade suppliers for the right products. Before the Global Market opens each year, he sets up the space to spotlight the products he feels will appeal to men. Don is picky, as a volunteer who works with him will attest!  But he’s got a job to do and the experience and skills to do it with. And he’s the first to let loose with a big laugh. Because life is joyful. And Don Oliver is full of life.

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PAMBE Ghana is a 501(c)(3) registered charitable organization.