We’ve got 25 deserving nonprofit finalists for our 2014 Beneficiary Program. All of these organizations are 501(c)3 nonprofits based in the Oklahoma City metro area. If they’re faith-based, they provide services to all clients, regardless of any religious affiliation. And they’re all fantastic.
Honestly, we’re a little in shock that so many local nonprofits applied. The application process is pretty rigorous — it’s important to us to know who we’re supporting, why their work matters to our community and what kind of potential our small contribution can make for those they’re helping. But despite our myriads of questions, the responses poured in.
And, you guys, these organizations are for real. They’re tackling issues like debilitating children’s illnesses, homelessness, chronic hunger and relational violence. They’re on the ground, changing our neighborhoods for the better and making friends with our fellow citizens who’ve run out of luck. We’re deeply honored by their interest in partnering with us, and we’re incredibly proud to feature each of them here.
After you’ve checked out each nonprofit, and the programming they’re asking us to support with financial donations and advocacy over the next year, please let us know which one you’re most excited about by voting in our informal fan poll here. The Shop Good team will be making the final decision, but what our customers think is important to us! We’ll reveal the results of fan voting and our selected 2014 Nonprofit Beneficiary the first week in June.
Children in Need
Since 1981, Christmas Connection has been serving the working poor of Oklahoma County. Set up as a retail store, with individual departments, Christmas Connection provides a place where those in need can personally select items they need with the help of a personal shopper. Over 8,500 people were helped at Christmas Connections in 2013, through their four programs: Christmas Shopping Days provide gifts and clothing for families living in poverty, School Connections offers school uniforms, supplies and backpacks to low-income students, Crisis Relief helps families who’ve experienced disaster restock their clothing and supplies, and General Shopping allows families to come, as referred by partner agencies, and shop with dignity and kindness.
Beneficiary Program: School Connections
Last year’s implementation of a OKCPS-wide school uniform policy greatly increased the demand on Christmas Connection’s School Connections program. Through a partnership with the public school district, low-income kids from Pre-K through 12th grade who have no other resources to purchase the required uniforms are referred to Christmas Connections, which is the largest of only three agencies in the metro that offer free uniforms to families who qualify. Over 1,500 students were served in 2013, but the number of students genuinely in need of assistance continues to exceed the resources the School Connections program has to offer. With an average uniform set costing about $33, the School Connections program is in need of significant funding in order to expand it’s abilities to not only clothe these bright young children, but to be able to offer similar assistance to their families.
Peppers Ranch Foster Care Community
Peppers Ranch seeks to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect by providing children in foster care with quality care and a safe environment where physical and emotional wounds can heal. In 2009, Peppers Ranch became Oklahoma’s first foster care community. With 10 homes (and 3 more planned for 2014) that each house a foster family, the Ranch enables siblings to be placed into foster care together and gives foster parents a network to receive emotional support and respite care. The 160-acre property is also a fully functioning ranch with equestrian center, agricultural center, calf barn, multi-purpose learning center, stocked pond, athletic fields and campsites — the children staying at Peppers Ranch have opportunities for learning and new experiences that offer happiness and hope.
Beneficiary Program: Hope of a Home Campaign
Peppers Ranch is currently housing 74 children in 10 homes, and is looking to secure funding in 2014 for 3 more homes that will allow an additional 18 children to move to the Ranch. A partnership with Shop Good would contribute to the construction of these new houses and provide a safe place to heal for kids in need.
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
With a 34-year history of innovation, effectiveness and stewardship in “Fighting Hunger … Feeding Hope,” the Regional Food Bank continues to be recognized as a national leader in the food banking industry. RFBO envisions a hunger-free Oklahoma, where everyone has access to healthy, nutritious food, regardless of circumstance. Last year alone, the Food Bank distributed almost 50 million pounds of food to more than 1,100 charitable partner agencies and school that served over 350,000 people struggling with hunger. RFBO’s wide array of programs serve everyone in Oklahoma, from elementary school children receiving backpacks of food, to middle schoolers growing community gardens with the help of Urban Harvest, to rural families with little access to charitable aid, to homebound low-income seniors needing food deliveries, to disaster relief efforts like those after 2012’s F5 tornado in Moore.
Beneficiary Program: Food For Kids
The Regional Food Bank provides four emergency assistance programs for chronically hungry children who often have nothing to eat between school-sponsored meals: a Backpack Program for kids to take food home on weekends and holidays, a School Pantry program for secondary students needing food assistance on campus, Kids Cafes for at-risk children attending after-school programs, and a Summer Feeding program that partners with community programming to provide meals to children in need. A gift of $7000 from Shop Good will provide food for 35 children participating in the Food for Kids Childhood Hunger programs.
Skyline Urban Ministry
Skyline Urban Ministry began in 1969 as a simple closet food pantry, an effort to alleviate the suffering of those living in poverty. It has now expanded into the nine specialized programs for low-income families, including a food pantry supplied by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, meals and relational support for seniors, a free prom dress event for young ladies in need, an eye clinic, a Christmas toy drive and a school uniform program for under-resourced children. Skyline was the recipient of the 2011 World Neighbors & KFOR Dignity Award which honors individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to promote dignity in the lives of others.
Beneficiary Program: Clothes for Kids
Skyline’s Clothes for Kids program provides two new school uniforms, new shoes, sock and underwear to children in low-income families. Many of these families are already struggling to provide their kids with adequate clothing, and buying the school uniforms required by Oklahoma City Public Schools is an additional burden. Skyline works with school counselors to identify kids who could benefit from the Clothes for Kids program and ensures that each child, and his or her family, is treated with dignity and kindness. Skyline not only provides brand new uniforms free of charge, but they have each child try on each outfit to make sure they fit well — an important step to help these kids fit in and feel confident at school. Although more than 1000 children have been served in past years, inadequate funding limited 2013’s program to 684 kids. Skyline is hopeful that a partnership with Shop Good would provide the funding needed to serve an additional 250 children, plus a shoe drive to supplement financial contributions.
Creativity & The Arts
Oklahoma Children’s Theatre
Oklahoma Children’s Theatre provides extraordinary live theatre and interactive educational experiences for young audiences to inspire young people to visualize their potential, enhance family relationships and invest in the future of our community. OCT serves children throughout the state through a wide range of programming, including 7 productions on the OCU campus for students Pre-K and up, a statewide touring production that emphasizes rural and underserved communities, school break theatre camps and classes, literacy workshops, and mentoring opportunities for college students. OCT expects over 1,300 students to enroll in this years summer camps and its innovative programming is reaching a diverse array of children for whom theatre is therapeutic, from Buddy Camps for children on the autism spectrum to scholarships for kids in low-income families who couldn’t otherwise afford to enroll.
Beneficiary Program: Page to Stage
Live theatre takes text from a page and gives it three dimensional life and meaning, encouraging a love for reading, enhanced visualization and increased comprehension. Page to Stage targets second grade students who attend low-income and low-performing schools within Oklahoma County, a key age when children are transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. Up to 8 schools (1 per month) will be engaged by the Page to Stage team of instructors and performers who will hold workshops with the kids at no cost. Each participating class will work with OCT staff to bring a story to life, beginning with a story-telling experience with discussion, action and word recognition activities. The students will then take a field trip to see the story performed as a play and meet the actors. Then the students will write their own story, which will be turned into a play by OCT artists and performed at the school as the program’s finale. Support from Shop Good will enable OCT to serve more children through the Page to Stage program by funding book purchases and production expenses, giving these second-graders a chance to fall in love with reading and the arts at an early age.
Root to Rise
Root to Rise is a brand new single-woman organization that’s working to heal and empower survivors of trauma through the practice of meditation and mindful awareness and yoga. Practitioners learn to connect to the inner strength they possess and gain awareness of the present through the union of breath and physical postures. From this they rise out of mental, emotional and physical distress. After being trained by The Prison Yoga Project in LA, Katy Jones brought the concept of helping criminal offenders through yoga and meditation classes to Oklahoma City. With donated mats and a go-ahead from the Department of Corrections, Katy began teaching classes at Kate Barnard Correctional Facility as therapy for the inmates there. Her success there has led to the start-up of classes for other victims of trauma: veterans with PTSD at the National Guard Training Center, homeless veterans at the Oklahoma City VA, youth experiencing adversity at Allied Oklahoma, and amputees at Scott Sabolich Prosthetics.
Beneficiary Program: Scholarship Funds for Yoga Instructor Training
Katy hopes to expand Root to Rise to serve a wide range of people who’ve experienced trauma, and for those in need of a marketable skill to earn income, she’d like to offer trainings for her students to become teachers. The training process is expensive and rigorous, requiring purchases of reading and study materials and attending 200+ hours of yoga classes. Root to Rise would like to be able to offer 10 scholarships, worth $1500 per student, for these teacher trainings to help victims of trauma go on to gain meaningful employment and impact the lives of others who can benefit through yoga therapy.
Environmental & Animal Advocacy
The Bella Foundation
The Bella Foundation assists low-income, elderly or terminally-ill pet owners with the cost of veterinary care when it cannot be afforded. Every year, thousands of animals are euthanized or sent home to die because the people who love them cannot financially absorb the cost of the care they need. Stray and abandoned animals have even fewer options when brought into a clinic or vet’s office with no owner to pay for their treatment. But the Bella Foundation believes that every animal deserves the best care possible, regardless of the owner’s ability to pay. When assistance is provided to a pet in need, the owner must agree to volunteer 8 hours of their time at a local animal shelter. And every animal who is sponsored by the Bella Foundation must be spayed/neutered and microchipped, to continue to alleviate suffering in the pet population.
Beneficiary Program: Direct Pet Assistance
The Bella Foundation is funded solely through grants and donations, and doesn’t currently have any corporate sponsorships. A partnership with Shop Good would be a wonderful opportunity to reach more of our community with the message of pet advocacy and financial contributions made by Shop Good would go directly to providing OKC’s animals with new homes, immunizations, medical treatment and low income assistance in treatment plans. Shop Good could also host a pet adoption event at the store to find loving families and raise additional funds.
The Myriad Gardens Foundation
The Myriad Gardens Foundation works to inspire all ages to develop an appreciation for plants, gardens and the importance of urban, green spaces to improve the quality of daily life. The Gardens serve as a vibrant and dynamic site to enjoy year-round through horticultural education, cultural exhibits and performances including art, music, dance and recreational activities. More than 200 individual events are offered throughout the year and the Gardens host nearly 1 million visitors annually. As a successful public-private partnership model, the Gardens partners with corporate and community groups to enhance the educational, aesthetic, cultural and economic development of Oklahoma City.
Beneficiary Program: Avant Gardeners
Just launched in April 2014, the Avant Gardeners program cultivates the membership of young professionals in Oklahoma City who recognize the importance of community and civic support and who are looking to build relationships through social events, volunteer service and professional networking. By targeting members in their 20s and 30s, the Gardens hopes to ensure the sustainability of public financial support and foster a culture in which future generations appreciate the importance of investing in our city’s valuable community resources. The Avant Gardeners have already recruited 50 members and plan to grow that number by hosting a signature event, the Garden Games, that features a day of outdoor competitive activities and an evening concert. Partnering with Shop Good would provide this new group with needed startup funds as membership continues to grow and would be a natural platform for encouraging participation in support of the Myriad Gardens.
Since 1971, OKC Beautiful works to improve the image and appearance of Oklahoma City through beautification, clean-up and education efforts. Beyond improving the aesthetic appeal of Oklahoma City, OKC Beautiful positively impacts economic development, business success, visitors’ impressions and residents’ quality of life. Landscaping and litter removal develop pride and ownership among our residents and encourage them to keep those spaces maintained. Nearby businesses and homeowners are inspired to improve their spaces too, magnifying the impact of each project. With over 80,000 volunteer hours and almost $2 million in benefits to the city, OKC Beautiful is making a real impact on our community’s health and happiness.
Beneficiary Program: Mother Earth
“Mother Earth” is OKC Beautiful’s interactive program designed to teach more than 10,000 fourth grade students at 25 OKC elementary schools in at-risk neighborhoods to protect their environment. The program is free-of-cost and concepts are introduced to students with a 20-minute play, performed at each school by professional actors, that presents easily memorized facts about the effects of recycling, littering and graffiti in their community. Following the play, each fourth grade class is given a recycle bin full of hands-on activities and curriculum that can be easily tailored by teachers to match concurrent lessons. Each school is also asked to perform a litter cleanup in the month of April. Partnering with Shop Good would enable OKC Beautiful’s work to cause lasting environmental change through youth education opportunities to continue to flourish.
Volunteers for Animal Welfare
Volunteers for Animal Welfare opened the SPOT Clinic (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today) in 2006 as a high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter clinic for families whose gross income does not exceed $40,000. The SPOT Clinic charges minimal fees, thanks to donations and grant funding, for more than 5,000 surgeries a year, plus puppy and kitten vaccinations and wellness checks for new pet owners. VAW works hard to educate the public about responsible pet care and has been instrumental in legislative and legal animal rights issues, including humane euthanasia, anti-cockfighting and anti-dogfighting, and puppy mill regulation.
Beneficiary Program: Pints, Pups & Pumpkins Event
VAW’s Pints, Pups & Pumpkins event is our biggest annual fundraiser. With hot dogs, cupcakes and local beer, plus a celebrity-judged costume contest for kids, pet owners and pets, the Pints event is a great opportunity for VAW to introduce the SPOT Clinic to our target community. The event also serves as a membership drive and a fundraiser for the Clinic to offer free services to fixed-income senior citizens who own pets. Support from Shop Good would allow VAW to attract more attendees to the Pints event through increased advertising and advocacy.
The Children’s Center
The Children’s Center was originally founded in 1898 as an orphanage in Oklahoma City. Today it provides the types of advanced, specialized pediatric medical care that help children transition from intensive hospital care to successfully living at home. TCC is a licensed 120-bed hospital that provides comprehensive and cost-effective medical care, therapy and education to children with special health needs, while assisting their families with their individual challenges. Serving about 400 inpatients and 2,100 outpatients each year, TCC provides the highest quality of life possible for every child through innovative technology, peer groups and educational sensory and creative environments. Over 80% of TCC’s inpatient beds hold children whose challenges include birth defects and debilitating physical illnesses. These kids stay an average of 2 years at TCC — which makes the positive environment, highly-qualified staff and energetic volunteer program invaluable to creating a healthy, happy place for them to live and thrive.
Beneficiary Program: The Family Fund and Events
The Family Fund helps to meet the emergency and discharge planning needs of The Children’s Center’s patients and families, including transportation assistance and vehicle modifications for wheelchair accessibility, home modifications for accessibility and at-home medical care, and specialized food, medication and equipment. The goal is to help relieve families of the burden of unexpected financial expenses and to reduce the rate of complications and hospital readmission. The funds available are never enough to fully meet the needs of TCC’s patients, and Shop Good’s contribution would help alleviate that disparity. Shop Good’s donation would also be used to support events for inpatients that give the children milestone experiences and serve as community outreaches: the Holiday Helpers annual Christmas gift drive and the annual spring Prom event in the hospital’s gym.
Good Shepherd Ministries
Good Shepherd Ministries provides high-quality charitable care for the sick and hurting who don’t have access to healthcare because they’re uninsured or underinsured. Good Shepherd began as a makeshift clinic in Chuck and Chris’ Bar in downtown OKC in 1977, providing basic care for homeless men and women. It’s now grown into the second-oldest faith-based free medical/dental clinic in Oklahoma City, designated as a “Christian Primary Care Center of Excellence” by the Butterfield Foundation and serving as an official clinical rotation site for the OU College of Dentistry and the OU Physician Assistant Program. Good Shepherd’s compassionate care through a team of more than 25 volunteer medical providers, 15 volunteer pharmacists and a large number of volunteer medical students is serving thousands of men, women and children across the city with extended hours, specialty clinics, health screenings and patient education programs. Good Shepherd plans to become a full-time primary healthcare center and to continue to treat patients as friends and neighbors who are deeply loved and worthy of the highest level of care.
Beneficiary Program: The Mobile Clinic
With transportation being a limiting factor for some of the neediest patients, Good Shepherd is reducing yet another barrier to good medical and dental care — they’re taking their free services on the road in a Mobile Clinic. By working with other charitable agencies, the Mobile Clinic will target locations where potential patients already naturally gather, like homeless shelters, shopping centers and schools. Good Shepherd is hoping that a financial contribution will help cover the expense of a portable x-ray unit for the Mobile Clinic to assist in accurate diagnosis on the spot. Plus, advocacy from Shop Good would boost Good Shepherd’s indispensable and highly-active volunteer base with more medical professionals and support staff, like clinic greeters, administrative assistants, and web and media contributors.
Northcare helps change the lives of the most vulnerable in Oklahoma: children who’ve been abused or neglected, families in crisis and individuals dealing with trauma, mental illness and addiction. Since 1981, NorthCare has been acting as a healthcare safety net for those who would not otherwise have access to help, providing comprehensive and integrated behavioral health and primary care to thousands of Oklahomans each year — 13,000 last year alone. By working closely with civic leaders, law enforcement, the public justice system and primary care providers, NorthCare’s open outpatient services combat the effects of untreated mental illness and addiction disorders, problems that cause lower life expectancy, higher rates of incarceration and health care costs, increased child abuse, higher unemployment and homelessness. NorthCare is truly transforming health outcomes in our community with holistic approaches that mend and empower both mind and body.
Beneficiary Program: OK County Veteran’s Program
Veterans are returning from combat to Oklahoma County with invisible wounds: higher rates of suicide, PTSD and other mental illnesses and trauma. Many of them self-medicate instead of getting treatment, typically due to financial difficulty, the stigma of receiving federal healthcare services or an inability to get help from the Veteran’s Administration. The result is often declining health, re-adjustment difficulties, family collapse, criminal charges or suicide. NorthCare is stepping in to provide treatment and support, as well as a diversion program for veteran’s in legal trouble, through a brand new program that provides therapeutic care, mentorship and tangible resources to give these deserving vets, who are hungry for the support of their community, a second chance. This program is largely unfunded and unknown, two problems that could be greatly alleviated through a partnership with Shop Good.
Homelessness & Safe Housing
City Rescue Mission
City Rescue Mission leads our community by serving the homeless and near homeless with help, hope and healing. The Mission started in 1960 as a men’s only shelter with 20 beds and 1 shower; it’s now the largest homeless shelter in the state with 640 beds available for men, women and children, and another expansion in progress. And it does so much more than provide temporary housing to those who have nowhere else to turn. With an Education Center, a Job Placement Center, a medical clinic, dental services, legal aid, counseling, housing placement assistance, veterans assistance, case management and food, CRM welcomes, accepts and helps each individual to overcome barriers and look with expectation for brighter tomorrows. In 2013 alone, CRM served almost 2.5 million meals and provided a total of 167,581 nights of shelter. Over 70% of clients participate in CRM’s recovery program, Bridge to Life, and almost 13,000 households received free grocery assistance through CRM’s new Impact Hunger Food Resource Center. CRM is truly making a difference in the lives of so many struggling OKC citizens.
Beneficiary Program: Impact Hunger Food Resource Center
CRM opened the Impact Hunger Food Resource Center in 2012 as a means to help not only the homeless, but also those at-risk of homelessness — those barely making ends meet, who are working more than one job, or working long past the retirement age, and still living below the poverty line. By providing a place where these families can get free grocery assistance, City Rescue Mission is creatively reaching out to a whole new target community that hasn’t walked through the doors of the Mission yet — but probably will in the future. The Food Resource Center is a homelessness prevention strategy that’s helping those in need of compassionate intervention with resources and relationships. Shop Good’s partnership would be used to fund food purchases and day-to-day operations at the Food Resource Center, and volunteer opportunities for Shop Good would be numerous, as the Center is open 5 days a week and each customer receives generous personal attention.
The Curbside Chronicle
The Curbside Chronicle is a new program of the Homeless Alliance offering an innovative solution to homelessness in Oklahoma City through social enterprise. As the first “street paper” in Oklahoma, The Curbside Chronicle is a 32-page bi-monthly magazine that’s both a voice and a means for earned income for those living on the street. 50% of the content in each issue is written by or about the local homeless population, and the publishing process is completed by a staff of volunteers. Homeless vendors can then buy the Chronicle for $0.75 and resell it on the street for a suggested donation of $2.00, giving them a means to start making money without panhandling. These vendors go through initial training, including a required code of conduct, and they’re mentored in setting goals for their sales and progress toward overcoming homelessness.
Beneficiary Program: 2014 Capital Campaign
Over the next year, The Curbside Chronicle hopes to raise $40,000 to employ a full-time staff member to run the magazine and to continue to be a self-sustaining social enterprise. With current annual budget of only a little more than $10,000, the financial contribution Shop Good can make would have a significant impact on the program. But the biggest benefit Shop Good can provide to The Curbside Chronicle is exposure and advocacy. As knowledge of the program spreads, magazine sales will grow, which will both empower more vendors to become financially stable and reduce the powerful stigma attached to homelessness in our community.
Rebuilding Together rebuilds lives and neighborhoods by making homes safe, warm and dry for low-income senior citizens in the Oklahoma City metro. Through a Year-Round Emergency Repair / Home Modification Program and an annual Rebuilding Day Program, Rebuilding Together provides free home repairs and modifications that foster safer mobility and independence. Rebuilding Day volunteers have repaired more than 2,100 homes in a one-day home improvement blitz in April of each year and an estimated $24 million in housing value has been returned to the community over the organization’s lifetime. Licensed contractors offer services and in-kind contributions when expertise is needed, keeping costs low and quality high. Rebuilding Together has also worked with the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project after the May 2013 tornadoes to repair 40 homes affected by the disaster.
Beneficiary Program: Year-Round Repair Program
Rebuilding Together’s Year-Round Program is funded by grants and private donations, with more than $75,000 in roofing repairs and $100,000 in HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other repairs over the last year alone. We expect to make more than 200 homes safer for their elderly residents over the coming year, and with the 60+ year-old population growing faster than ever, the waiting list — currently over 100 people — continues to grow. An average client is a widow making a little over $1000 a month, and many clients are veterans or disabled. The conditions they’re living in are unacceptable, and we can do better. Shop Good’s contributions would enable more of these wonderful homeowners to get the help they need to live independently and safely. Shop Good can help by adopting homeowners to receive repairs out of store contributions, holding supply drives and recruiting volunteers for the rebuilding work.
For nearly 90 years, Upward Transitions has touched the lives of Oklahomans, elevating those in need, stranded or homeless to a position of self-sufficiency. Upward Transitions serves families and individuals in crisis, those who are homeless and impoverished, victims of domestic violence and stranded travelers. Many Americans are living one medical emergency, one blown transmission or one lost job away from facing homelessness, and hitting rock bottom can often be prevented with the right opportunities and relationships. Upward Transitions provides emergency help to those on the verge of homelessness, as well as reintegration services for those already on the street, helping each client to rebuild a secure emotional and fiscal foundation for a better life.
Beneficiary Program: Community and Family Outreach Programs
Upward Transitions’ Community Outreach Program provides crisis intervention, case management services, advocacy and referrals for families who are homeless and in need of basics like safe shelter, food and transportation. These services help create stability so that clients can regain confidence and rebuild their ability to support themselves, with the help of a case manager and an individualized plan. The Family Outreach Program administers a Transitional Housing program to get families out of shelters and into a temporary home, an Emergency Solutions grant to those in danger of eviction and a new grant for Supportive Services for Veterans and their Families. Through sales and advocacy, Shop Good can help provide the funds needed to provide services to this underserved part of our community and be another voice that tells the story of the homeless people living in the margins of Oklahoma City.
Special Needs & Disabilities
NewView Oklahoma empowers people who are blind or vision impaired to achieve their maximum level of independence through employment opportunities, vision rehabilitation and community outreach. NewView is Oklahoma’s largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired. Headquartered downtown, NewView offers job opportunities to 85 individuals, including various manufacturing operations, switchboard operations at Travis Air Force Base, and call center operations. NewView also opened Oklahoma’s only comprehensive low vision clinic in Oklahoma City in 2012. From babies to senior citizens, those who are vision impaired can get a personalized assessment and therapy plan that includes home visits and goals for living independently.
Beneficiary Program: Oklahomans Without Limits Summer Camp
The Oklahomans Without Limits (OWL) summer camp is an annual one-week camp that pairs 36 blind or visually impaired campers, ages 8–18, with sighted buddies for a week of fun and learning. This year’s camp theme is music and OWL will partner with Oklahoma Youth Orchestra for a hands-on adaptive music experience. Many of these campers have never had the opportunity to play an instrument and many of their buddies will learn how incredibly capable blind and visually-impaired youth are and develop an appreciation for people with disabilities. Shop Good’s contribution would help cover the costs of the camp for these deserving kids, and increased advocacy through our partnership would help meet volunteer needs at OWL Camp and spread a message of empowerment for those with vision loss in our local community.
Special Care’s mission is to nurture all children with and without special needs in safe, inclusive and supportive environments through education, therapeutic intervention and community acceptance. A United Way partner agency accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Special Care is licensed by the Department of Human Services to serve children between the ages of 6 weeks and 21 years. Two-thirds of the children participating in Special Care’s programs have special needs due to a wide-variety of conditions, including spina bifida, visual and hearing impairments, autism, attention deficit disorders, Down syndrome, and other physical, mental, and multi-disabling conditions. In our inclusive environment, children with special needs and typically developing children learn alongside one another, forming positive relationships that help them and their families develop to their fullest potential-cognitively, socially, physically, and emotionally. Special Care helps children with special needs and their families discover what they can do.
Beneficiary Program: Facilities Expansion
Since opening in 1985, Special Care has served about 6,000 children through direct-care programs and has trained more than 5,000 childcare professionals in the skills to care for children with special needs. However, the waiting list for Special Care’s services is extensive, and more funding is needed to expand their current capacity for 135 children. Special Care is fundraising for a building expansion with 3 new classrooms and 6 new teachers that could accommodate another 40+ children who are currently waiting to enroll. Funds raised through a partnership with Shop Good would help meet this pressing need, as well as provide scholarships to students who need financial assistance to receive services. Shop Good would be directly affecting these fantastic kids and the quality of care Special Care is able to provide them.
Teens in Crisis
Family Builders (formerly the Parents Assistance Center) was founded in 1976 by one woman who saw a need for metro-area parents to receive critical emotional support during a family crisis. By offering classes, workshops and other services to families in difficult situations, many of whom are in the OKDHS or court system, Family Builders provides parents with the building blocks for better relationships. The Nurturing Parenting Skills Program helps parents learn to take responsibility for their behavior, be empathetic and communicate effectively while establishing household routines and positive discipline. The Compassion Workshop assists parents in understanding and dealing with their emotions, particularly anger, in order to be more responsive and less reactive. By strengthening families, Family Builders hopes to prevent child abuse, neglect and other violence in the home so that every child in Oklahoma can be part of a safe and nurturing family.
Beneficiary Program: The Road Conference
Family Builders will hold an annual fall conference this year entitled “The Road — because 1 in 3 is too many” for 9th through 12th graders to discuss important relationship issues like dating violence, sexual abuse, pregnancy, substance abuse and self harm. 1 in 3 teens experiences some form of relationship violence, and Family Builders hopes that the students who attend this conference will become better prepared for how to avoid becoming a victim and how to talk to an adult if they need help. The conference will feature sessions with local experts, accurate information about the issues facing teens today and tips about how to communicate about relationship violence with parents. 2014 will be the inaugural conference and the kickoff to Family Builder’s teen protram, so financial support and advocacy from Shop Good would lay a strong foundation for future expansion.
Neighborhood Services Organization
Neighborhood Services Organization serves the at-risk and homeless populations of Oklahoma City by providing housing solutions and teaching skills to transform lives. With a rich history of community activism dating back to 1920, and a creative approach to challenges faced by low-income Oklahoma City residents, NSO is responsible for starting and nurturing several successful independent nonprofits including Detox Center, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Mobile Meals and Positive Tomorrows.
Beneficiary Program: The Carolyn Williams Center
NSO’s Carolyn Williams Center is a transitional living program for young homeless men aged 18-22. Most of these young men have aged out of foster care — this means that after a lifetime of abuse, neglect and chaos, they are turned onto the streets on their 18th birthday. With an incomplete education, no support system and few life skills, they struggle to survive. But at CWC, these young men are mentored by NSO staff to develop an individual life plan that involves finishing their formal education, finding a job, securing additional resources and gaining the life skills they need to live independently. Because many of these young men struggle with mental illness, disabilities, substance abuse, or simply making poor life choices, they can be hard for donors to relate to, which in turn makes fundraising a difficult task. A partnership with Shop Good would provide both financial support for the CWC, as well as a voice to advocate for these young men and recruit mentors and teachers who can help give them hope for a bright future.
OK Foster Wishes
OK Foster Wishes advocates and serves by bringing awareness to the foster care crisis while connecting the community with opportunities to serve Oklahoma’s children affected by abuse, neglect and abandonment. OK Foster Wishes collects and distributes wish lists created by children in foster care through their Christmas Wishes program; provides cribs, car seats, food and other items to facilitate a child’s move out of a shelter and into a kinship placement through Emergency Kinship Support; hosts a huge party for graduating high school seniors in foster care; and is working with OKDHS to launch a volunteer database for short-term care needs like shelter birthday parties, mentorship and overnight stays. OK Foster Wishes has an incredibly effective volunteer base — this past Christmas, the organization’s supporters fulfilled Christmas Wish Lists for almost 7,500 children in foster care.
Beneficiary Program: FLUX
OK Foster Wishes hosts FLUX, a graduation party to recognize and honor kids who are successfully graduating from high school while in foster care. Less than 50% of children in foster care complete high school and less than 2% go on to college — primarily due to the stress and lack of stable, supportive relationships caused by multiple foster care placements. FLUX not only celebrates their achievements, but gives these high schoolers a chance to connect with volunteers in the community who can act as mentors as these youth now “age out” of the DHS system. Having a trusted adult to spend time with is invaluable to a young person who’s now responsible to make adult decisions about college and career without the help of a family. Shop Good’s contributions can help OK Foster Wishes reach even more kids aging out of the foster care system and recruit great new life coaches to help them navigate the road ahead.
Girl Scouts – Western Oklahoma
Girl Scouts is the world’s most successful organization dedicated to creating girl leaders, with 3.2 million active members and more than 59 million alumnae. Since its inception in 1912, Girl Scouting has enabled women to explore new fields of knowledge, learn valuable skills and develop strong core values. Girl Scouts – Western Oklahoma currently serves over 10,000 girls and adults in 39 central and western Oklahoma counties.
Beneficiary Program: Scholarship Funds
Because of financial barriers, many girls are missing the opportunity to participate in Girl Scouts. We estimate that it costs approximately $312 to support one girl for a year of Girl Scouting. With support from Shop Good, we can expand our efforts for these girls by offering scholarships for membership dues, uniforms and badges, curriculum activity books and materials, and event and camp fees. Together we can help break down the social and educational barriers to give every girl the opportunity to be the leader she wants to be and the leader the world needs her to be.
ReMerge is a new comprehensive female diversion program that gives pregnant women and mothers facing incarceration in Oklahoma County the tools and relationships they need to become productive community citizens. These women, who are facing jail time for non-violent crimes, are given an opportunity for intervention and rehabilitation, including a comprehensive assessment process and individualized treatment plan, which keeps them from being separated from their young children. Many ReMerge participants are struggling with trauma, addition and unmet mental health needs. Past abuse, dysfunctional families, poverty and a lack of support system create barriers to success, while guilt and shame impede them from asking for help. ReMerge participants are placed in monitored sober living housing and complete a 12–24 month program to address their mental, physical and emotional needs. Over it’s 3 years in operation, ReMerge has accepted 86 participants, impacting the lives of over 170 minor children, and has successfully graduated 20 of them, with about 50 still in the program — an astonishing 87% success rate.
Beneficiary Program: Clothing Closet and Medical Services
Upon graduation from ReMerge, participants should be working or in school full-time, with a clear plan to support themselves, so they have a crucial need for business casual clothing and personal hygiene items to ensure their continued success. A sponsorship from Shop Good would most likely cover all costs to help each woman purchase clothing she can feel confident in, and ReMerge would love to have Shop Good get involved with the women and their families personally, giving them an opportunity to get some empowering fashion tips and to candidly share their stories with people in the community who care. Shop Good funds would also help support the free medical services provided to current program participants, including wellness education, smoking cessation and family planning.
Founded in 1907, the YWCA Oklahoma City has worked tirelessly on behalf of women and minorities, particularly those who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The YWCA operates the only emergency shelter certified by the Oklahoma Attorney General providing safe refuge to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking crimes in Oklahoma County. By offering specialized expertise through trained, trauma-informed professionals and phone hotlines, the YWCA is able to provide comprehensive programs for intervention, prevention, racial justice and outreach efforts. Programs focus specifically on the physical, emotional and medical needs of victims and their children as they navigate safety, healing and empowerment. Participants in YWCA programs consistently report that they feel safe from their abuser while receiving crisis services and that the YWCA offered them hope for their future.
Beneficiary Program: Emergency Shelter Meals
Women seek emergency shelter with the YWCA to find a safe haven from abuse. They and their children usually arrive at the shelter with nothing other than the clothes on their backs and the devastating burden of family violence and fear. A thorough assessment is completed by an advocate for each trauma survivor, including needs for basic necessities, medical/dental care, counseling, mental health treatment, schooling and supplies, transportation, legal advocacy and victim protection orders. The YWCA would greatly benefit from a Shop Good partnership that would contribute to providing for these tangible needs — particularly healthy, nutritious meals. Shop Good’s contributions would relieve traumatized mothers of the worry that her child’s basic needs aren’t being met, and would allow both her and her child to get a head start on the path of healing they deserve.
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