Enid SOS

Rhonda Stevison (right), with Enid Enid Street Outreach Services, helps Diana Fitzgerald with First Presbyterian Church, prepare the church’s Saturday manna meal, which the church has been providing too the homeless and in-need each week for 37 years. (Photo provided by James Neal)

ENID, Okla. — A new Enid nonprofit is undertaking a week of activities to highlight the issues of hunger and homelessness in Enid.

Enid Street Outreach Services is asking the public to engage with daily Facebook Live streams and discussions, and to donate items needed by the unsheltered community, as part of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which runs through Nov. 20.

Enid SOS formed this month to specifically meet the needs of Enid’s homeless population, with the long-term goal of bringing professional case managers to Enid and helping the community access existing services and benefits.

While the nonprofit is new, Enid SOS President James Neal said its board members represent decades of experience in serving and helping the unsheltered and poor in Enid.

“We’re a new nonprofit, formed with the mission of meeting unsheltered people where they are, and removing barriers to ending homelessness,” said Neal, who is also a reporter for the News & Eagle.

The Enid SOS board includes Neal, a seminarian in the U.S. Old Catholic Church and head of Holy Cross Enid; Rhonda Stevison, who performs daily street outreach to the homeless with Enid Faith Ways; the Rev. Andrew Long, pastor at First Presbyterian Church, which offers a Saturday manna meal to the homeless; the Rev. Tom Stanley, pastor at Central Christian Church, which serves the Sunday evening Enid Welcome Table; Deacon Val Ross, director at the Our Daily Bread soup kitchen; Justin Simmons, a licensed clinical social worker and executive director of Making a Difference; and Janet Cordell, nurse manager at Enid Community Clinic.

Enid SOS has been formed with assistance from the Community Development Support Association’s nonprofit incubator.

On Friday, the group hosted a “pop-up shop,” providing free clothing, coats and gloves at Our Daily Bread. Four new bicycles, provided by United Way of Northwest Oklahoma, were distributed, in conjunction with World Day of Kindness.

“These bikes will aid them tremendously in getting to work, to see family members and to make medical appointments and access food and shelter resources,” Neal said.

Enid SOS volunteers also assisted Saturday with the manna meal at First Presbyterian.

Other awareness events planned for the week include the following Facebook Live sessions:

  • Enid Welcome Table, 4:15 p.m. Sunday;
  • With Janet Cordell at Enid Community Clinic, 10:30 a.m. Monday;
  • At Our Daily Bread, with Val Ross, 8:30 a.m. Wednesday;
  • With Justin Simmons, discussing case management in overcoming addiction and mental illness, 1:45 p.m. Thursday;
  • A wrap-up of the week, 2 p.m. Friday.

Enid SOS also will be participating in the Enid Community Coalition for the Unsheltered monthly meeting. Its third is set for 3 p.m. this Tuesday, at Central Christian Church.

Also throughout this week, Enid SOS is collecting donations of new or gently used and clean sleeping bags and coats for the unsheltered, and cash donations to benefit Our Daily Bread and The Salvation Army, in their efforts to feed the unsheltered and those in need.

Donations can be dropped off during office hours at Central Christian Church, 1111 W. Broadway.

Cordell, with Enid Community Clinic, said she hopes the week will raise awareness of the unsheltered, and how hard it is to get medical care to them.

“Someone needs to speak for the homeless,” Cordell said, “because no one wants to hear them or see them, but someone needs to speak for them, and the God of my understanding calls on me to do that.”

Neal and Stevison, with Enid Faith Ways, last month held a sleep-out at Don Haskins Park’s pavilion, as part of World Homeless Day.

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Ewald is copy editor and city/education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Send an email to aewald@enidnews.com.

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Writer, doer and overthinker. OU grad, California native with Oklahoma heritage.

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