ENID, Okla. —
What makes a difference
Through its programs, CDSA helps people find affordable childcare, offers emergency assistance, seeks housing solutions, trains parents to aid in their children’s education, helps people who don’t have prescription drug coverage, targets the needs of infants and small children, helps people find employment and helps teenagers reach their full potential.
Youthbuild is a nine-month program open only to 28 high school dropouts annually. Over the course of the nine months, the students work to complete their high school education, learn construction skills while working on affordable housing for low-income families and gaining job skills.
“More than all of that, in the nine months we keep them we kind of change them, that’s our goal,” said Ezzell. “If you can change the lives of 28 people, that’s huge.”
Hoping to tackle the problem of a lack of affordable housing in Enid, CDSA has been working on a tax credit with its development partner, Carland Group construction company of Oklahoma City. Carland wants to start a new housing development off 30th Street, featuring 35 affordable homes. The CDSA board committed $225,000 to that project, a loan Carland will pay back over time if the development gets off the ground.
“Housing, especially high quality affordable housing, is just one of the greatest needs in our community right now,” said Ezzell.
Another need is affordable child care, she said.
“The burden of the cost of child care for working families is just horrible,” said Ezzell. “Moms have to work, dads have to work and we want our children to be in places that are healthy for them and safe for them. Parents worry about that all the time, and it’s expensive.”
Needs are based on a person’s stage of life, Ezzell said. A single mother needs affordable child care, while an elderly person may need help maintaining their home while living on a fixed income.
“We all have different priorities and needs, depending on where we are in life and what our resources are,” Ezzell said. “CDSA is here to help people who don’t have the resources to meet their needs, most often through no fault of their own.”
The epitome of a CDSA client is a single mom with children younger than 5.
“We believe, one of our undergirding philosophies is, we make the biggest difference for people in early childhood,” said Ezzell. “If you don’t have what you need when you are a little kid, your chances of growing up to be a successful contributor to our community are greatly lessened. You have an opportunity gap. That’s why we focus so much on early childhood services.”
The Parents as Teachers program helps parents become involved in their children’s intellectual, language, physical and social development before they turn 3.
“They (parents) have these sort of mentors who are trained and experienced, and help them understand what’s going on with their kids,” Ezzell said. “That’s been a really successful program.”