Nonprofit reopens after remodel and expansion

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John Gorrell, a volunteer, prepares shopping carts at Skyline Urban Ministry in Oklahoma City. (Garett Fisbeck)

A local nonprofit organization recently reopened its doors to the public after moving all its services to a remodeled and expanded main facility.

Skyline Urban Ministry, a community outreach organization supported by United Way of Central Oklahoma and the United Methodist Church, reopened its newly designed Food Resource Center Nov. 13 at its location at 500 SE 15th St. in Oklahoma City, formerly known as McKee Center.

John Bobb-Semple, project manager for community initiatives at Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, said this project had spanned more than two and a half years and both Skyline staff and volunteers and their clients will benefit greatly from it.

“We decided to unify the organization into one facility to expand its operation to serve more people,” said Bobb-Semple.

He said Skyline needed warehouse space to store more food and provide a better intake process for its clients.

Bobb-Semple said Skyline’s eye clinic and food pantry were housed at its former location on Eighth Street downtown, while the remaining services — clothing for adults and children, a senior citizens’ fellowship ministry, a Christmas gift donation program and an annual prom event for local senior high school girls — were all located at its SE 15th Street location.

Expanding that location was “necessary to bridge food programs with services to help get people back on their feet” and gives Skyline “a much larger space to serve clients from,”Bobb-Semple said.

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Mike Fulsom, a volunteer, stockes a freezer at Skyline Urban Ministry in Oklahoma City. (Garett Fisbeck)

Housing services in one building can also help Skyline better “provide for clients and give better service overall,” although the new facility and equipment will present new challenges for Skyline staff and volunteers. One major change in the expansion is the installation of a new walk-in cooler and freezer, which will be stocked with items like frozen vegetables and dairy products.

“This [freezer and cooler] will give them the opportunity to take in dairy or fresh produce at whatever capacity comes in,” Bobb-Semple said, adding that most food pantries don’t have space for those types of donations.

“The Food Resource Center model is unique in Oklahoma,” he said, “and there are very few nationwide.”

The facility’s new space will help Skyline staff and volunteers accomplish their mission to impact lives, empower those in need and address the roots of poverty in Oklahoma, Bobb-Semple also said donations and volunteers are critically needed.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation and the Cresap Family Foundation are taking part in a matching gift project in conjunction with Regional Food Bank this year. Chesapeake and the Cresap Foundation together will match up to $1 million in donations from now until Jan. 15, 2015,
But Bobb-Semple said there also is a great need for volunteers — whether to help stock shelves or serve clients as “shopper helpers” — to help take care of the projected increase of clients the groups’ officials expect to see at Skyline due to the expansion.

“We need friends to volunteer to shoulder the load of the facility,” he said. “A little bit of sweat isn’t all for naught.”


Print headline: Reaching out, A local nonprofit group relocates and expands services for Oklahoma City’s needy.

Zach Jacobs

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

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