Family Gets Clean Slate from Athletic Volunteers

Associate Editor

STARTING OVER: Ruby Freeman’s home in North Tulsa received a makeover from the Clean Slate of the Church at Battle Creek. From left are Penni Graham, Ruby Freeman, Natalie Graham and Dakota Graham. Penni Graham is the wife of TU Head Football Coach Todd Graham.


Last year for Ruby Freeman and her family is what some would say nightmares are made of. And Penni Graham wasn’t going to sit back and not do something to help so she asked for help from the Tulsa community and it all came together with Clean Slate, an extreme home makeover of sorts through the Church at Battle Creek, 3025 North Aspen Ave. in Broken Arrow.

“Sometimes life overwhelms you and you just need a clean slate,” says Denis Lopez, director of women’s ministry of the Church at Battle Creek.

“She had a hole in her roof and now it’s fixing her whole life,” says Graham, the wife of University of Tulsa Head Football Coach Todd Graham.

Ruby’s neighborhood in North Tulsa is a hodge-podge of boarded up abandoned homes and nice houses; yards with tall grass and others trim. At the end of the street is Ruby’s house, which fell into disrepair after a series of incidents changed her life forever. Her husband died of a heart attack in February, Ruby contracted bacterial meningitis while her husband was in the hospital and after her recovery her doctors found a brain tumor that had to be removed.

During this time, Ruby’s 22-year-old twins, son Jarrodd and daughter Jazmine, who has cerebral palsy, were left to survive on their own in the home that had a hole in the roof, a bad hot water heater and chipping paint. The total costs of repairs: $10,000. The figure wasn’t daunting to Graham who knows how to get things done; one way is to call on teams of able bodied college students. The University of Tulsa women’s soccer team and football team spent a Friday afternoon helping to get Ruby’s house repaired before 5 p.m. on Saturday.

“It’s good to give back to the community since they give us support throughout the year and season,” says Kyle Young, junior defensive end on the football team.

“I think she has an amazing story. I’m thankful our team gets to help her,” says Ashley Fraser, a midfield freshman on the women’s soccer team.

Ruby’s neighbors drove by slowly, rap reverberating the air, cigar smoke billowing out open windows as the passengers looked curiously at the circus of TU players and Clean Slate crew. The two girls who live next door came over to help out. Graham hopes they will see what God can do in their lives.

“It’s touched everyone who’s here,” says Graham. “We’re so blessed by the donations of the community. It’s like Christmas for me everyday!”

“The neatest thing is that some people have paid for her son and daughter from California to fly home and surprise her,” says Lopez.

On Saturday, her son, Billy Coleman is at her newly renovated home. He has her favorite song, “Never Could Have Made It,” by Marvin Sapp, ready to be played over the speakers when she arrives.

“I’m overjoyed. Excited is not the word. I’m surreal, so grateful. There’s nothing God couldn’t ask of me to do. I would do it. God is using this minute to restore my mother’s life,” says Coleman. When his mother arrives, the gospel music is playing as she gets out of the car, blind folded, only able to hear the cheers from the 200 plus volunteers and neighbors. Finally the blindfold is removed and she staggers as she takes it all in. She makes her way to the front with her twins; Jarrodd is pushing Jazmine in her wheel chair. They go up the ramp and journey through the new house.

“Oh Jesus help me!” Ruby says. They show Jarrodd his new room, “This is not my room,” he says.

Jazmine’s room door has been widened so that she can fit her wheelchair through. It is equipped with a hospital bed that lowers and rises. She also has a new air conditioner.

They have a new dining room and kitchen, which Clean Slate fully stocked, a new refrigerator, but the most amazing room for Ruby is her own room.

“I didn’t know it was going to be like this,” she says.

“I’ve never been to this church, but God knows I’ll do anything for this church. I appreciate this so much. I’m thankful and happy. My daughter can go in her room now.”

Go to for more information of Clean Slate.

Updated 09-08-2008

Back to Top


Back to Top

Contact GTR News

About Post Author