The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Progress 2014

March 15, 2014

4RKids on the job, in the community

ENID, Okla. — 4RKids Foundation serves a broader slice of the population than many realize.

The organization provides support and opportunities to children and adults throughout a six-county area who have an assortment of special needs. 4RKids provides vocational, educational and social opportunities for clients regardless of disability.

4RKids offers education, information and resources to parents and educators in the region; connects people to services they need; operates a Putt-Putt miniature golf facility that offers employment to clients as well as wheelchair-accessible recreation to the public; operates 2nd Story Gift Store on Overland Trail and 2nd Story Downtown Gift Store in the Non-Profit Center downtown; and sponsors Miracle League baseball program for children and adults, which pairs special-needs and typical players together for recreation.

At the employment center, clients make greeting cards, lotion bars, bath salts, dog biscuits, hand sanitizer and jewelry. 4RKids also performs document shredding and aluminum can and paper recycling. Other employment services include job training for cash register operation, pricing and display of inventory, lawn care, janitorial tasks and operation of a concession stand.

4RKids clients also are volunteers at Loaves and Fishes food bank. There they stock shelves, unload trucks and clean. The tasks serve as job training for clients.

“We go every day, and we’re the only regular volunteer group,” said Tricia Mitchell, executive director at the agency. “Our individuals are getting paid. When we’re providing job training, we’re getting reimbursed by the state for that.”

Miracle League games are held at ABC AMBUCS Park at Van Buren and Oak. The grand opening celebration for the newly-completed baseball field, four years in the work, is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 25.

Each of 4RKids’ two gift shops offers a unique selection of gifts, although some items are available at both shops. Clients work in the gift shops, doing such things as cleaning and pricing donated books, ringing up customers’ purchases, restocking the shelves and keeping the gift shop in a bright and appealing condition.

According to Mitchell, the downtown gift store offers a wider selection of men’s gifts.

Donated books sold in the 2nd Story Gift Stores include paperbacks and hardbacks, and sell for 25 cents to about $5, though rare books are higher.

“The books on the back shelves are listed on Amazon, and they pull the books in the morning that have been sold and help package them for shipping,” Mitchell said.

Additionally, 4RKids participates in activities to raise awareness on behalf of the disabled.

“We do some community awareness and try to do some outreach,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell talks to high school seniors who might qualify for services from 4RKids. The organization also sets up booths at events such as arts and crafts fairs.

“That’s a lot of work,” Mitchell said.

The non-profit organization is funded through a variety of avenues. A contract with Oklahoma Health Care Authority provides the agency with payment to provide vocational training and employment for clients eligible for state-supported employment.

Additional funding comes from grants, donations, contracts between 4RKids and local businesses for such tasks as document shredding.

4RKids also holds fundraisers, such as an annual walk and run event.

Services for clients who do not qualify for state funding cost about $180 per month. Families can make private-pay agreements if their loved one does not qualify for state-supported employment services.

To support the programs, 4RKids accepts donations of cash, books, small foam paintbrushes, parchment and watercolor paper, plastic tableware, watercolor paint, hand soap, gift cards, glycerin, sweet almond oil, epson salt, Dawn and Ivory dish soaps, colored pencils, flour and corks.

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Progress 2014
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