Character Counts In Edmond

Edmond Life & Leisure September 26, 2013

When I watch those shows on television news that pay people cash money for being a good person, it makes me uncomfortable. I am more uncomfortable for them than anything else. Do folks that really believe in helping others want or expect a cash payment? I just don’t think so folks. I guess it would make me feel better if they donated the cash to a charity of that person’s choice instead of just handing them a handful of cash right in front of the television camera. I also wonder what message that sends to kids.  Character does count however and there is a group of folks here in Edmond that take time to recognize it. They also do it in a way that honors that individual without the inclusion of being self-serving for their organization. The intent is to recognize the sacrifice without trying to increase viewership or circulation.

I’m referring to The Character Council of Edmond. They have a mission: getting people to do the right thing.  The Edmond group believes the “character of a nation can only be strengthened one person at a time, one community at a time.”  The group is annually awarded a small amount of funding by the City of Edmond City Council through the Edmond social agency funding. Our City of Edmond leadership has a terrific history of supporting programs that recognize and develop good character in our town. This support has transcended a number of elected officials. They might disagree on a number of issues but they have been united in support of The Character Council of Edmond.

The president of the group, Jim Hulsey, believes the Champions of Character recognition given to local residents nearly every month by the Character Council is probably the most visible work the group does. Retired from nearly three decades of television broadcast experience, as photographer, production assistant, freelance journalist and an occasional newspaper editorialist, Hulsey has called Edmond “home” periodically since 1946. He served as the president of the Edmond Neighborhood Alliance and as a council member to the Edmond YMCA and participated in a variety of committees over the years to improve the community. Hulsey is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

The Champions of Character award is based on one of the 49 character traits established in the 1990s in a program known as Character First. That was begun by then Kimray executive Tom Hill, who worked to improve productivity and reduce workers' compensation claims for the Oklahoma City based manufacturer. In less than two years, the company reported profits were up 25 percent and workers' comp claims were down 80 percent.

The group needs your help with the Champions of Character award each month. The character trait is announced each month on their web site and in Edmond Life & Leisure. We have pledged to help the group in announcing what that trait is for the month. We need our readers to help with nominating people in our community that exemplify that month’s character trait. You can nominate someone by going to Edmond is full of folks with great character traits and we just need you to help us recognize them.

Supported in a July 2001 city resolution by Mayor Saundra Naifeh, designating Edmond as a “City of Character,” a board of directors was established to bring the character message to Edmond. The Council is now a 501c3 not-for-profit grassroots organization incorporated by the State of Oklahoma since July 2003, and in 2004 was recognized for its exempt status under the Internal Revenue Service Code.  The council is a local Edmond agency made up entirely by volunteers from different career areas whose focus is reserved for the Edmond area alone.  The character council also helps out on school campuses, where leaders want students to avoid negative behaviors such as bullying, tardiness, cheating and disrespect for teachers.

Since 2003, the Council’s primary initiative has been to sponsor character-based education to area schools, the first being Central Middle School, where 15 educators received the training at no cost to the school. Since that time, additional area schools expressed their desire to receive the training. The character based education training is now open to each Edmond area school, elementary, secondary, high school, both public and private.  They have also made allowances for parent volunteers at these schools to receive the training. The training fee, materials, a lunch and compensation for any substitute teachers that may be required while educators attend the half-day training, are paid for. The only investment from the educators is their time. Traditionally, they have held these trainings in September, but as of 2011 moved the date to sometime in November.

Here is what some of the over 400 area educators that have participated in the trainings since 2003 have to say:
“We need this in our schools! By-and-large, kids aren’t getting this from home.”
“The materials are great. It was very organized and will be useful to staff.”
“The character traits will give enrichment to what I am doing now.”
“Getting to the heart of the child is the heart of education. These issues of character deal with the heart. When a heart is changed for the right reasons, they are more successful in life.”
“The character qualities put the responsibility of self-management into the hands of students. I will have more time to work with students when less time is used for discipline.”
“This information is fundamental for all education. It will have impact in every area of the classroom and educational setting. It will carry over into the home life, social activities, and world view. In short, it will affect their character in such a way that it will impact every area of life positively.”
“I went home the day of the presentation and began to teach my own children one of the character qualities.”

If you are a local educator and wish to participate, first check with the principal at your school. If your school is not currently among the participating schools in the Edmond area, please have your principal contact the Character Council of Edmond ( and let them know of your interest.

Reprinted with permission: Ray Hibbard, publisher of Edmond Life & Leisure, may be reached by e-mail at