Men who find themselves without a home in the Tahlequah area can stay at O-Si-Yo Homeless Men’s Shelter when space is available.
The shelter can house 12 men and has been undergoing some needed repairs and refurbishment in hopes of making room for more.
Last Friday, board members learned the shelter’s 501(C)3 application has been approved.
“That immediately helped us,” said O-Si-Yo Board President Becky Stephenson. “We are trying to get updates and have partnerships to help. With many partners doing small projects, we’re making progress.
Saturday, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity installed two new windows, replacing some that were rotten beyond repair. Habitat volunteers will also be painting the house exterior, she said.
“When Habitat gets shipments in, the guys [in the shelter] go help unpack, or help anytime Habitat needs assistance or help cleaning up,” Stephenson said.
Earlier in the spring, Tahlequah Eagle Scout candidate Daniel Norman worked with others to have an electrical pole installed for the shelter as part of his community service project.
Cherokee Nation is also a partner. It has provided grants to help establish an office, a computer, copy machine and telephone – something different every year, Stephenson said. A majority of the O-Si-Yo board are Cherokee citizens.
“Sam Bradshaw helped us with paperwork for the Cherokee Nation and said it sounded hopeful they would help with rehabbing the tin shop to make more sleeping area,” Stephenson said.
The work in the tin shop will include a new kitchen, two new bathrooms, all new windows and flooring, and it will be repainted. The laundry will be moved to the old kitchen location, the bathroom will be updated, and volunteers hope to repaint the interior of the house.
The Zarrow Foundation in Tulsa has funded grants for operating funds.
Another group that helped were Japanese exchange students from Texas, she said.
“Grants from Lake Region help with furniture and appliances, and we were able to get a much-needed refrigerator,” she said. “And Lowe’s is good to help us with mark-downs on damaged items and appliances.”
Fundraisers also provide assistance, which is used for rent and utilities. Volunteers are planning a hot dog sale at Atwoods the second Saturday in July. And the Masons plan to do another spaghetti dinner soon.
“And we’ve started having garage sales,” said Stephenson.
“We used the money to get another refrigerator to store spare leftovers. We accept food donations from anyone who has leftovers. Food is always useful, but monetary donations are most needed for rent and utilities.”
O-Si-Yo has an informal partnership with Hope House.
“We share in their pull from Reasor’s, and every Saturday, they give us their deli leftovers,” she said.
The men volunteer at the CARE Food Pantry, and Feed My Sheep provides leftovers.
Churches bring food donations, and when the Cherokee Nation has dinners, staff brings leftover food. Encore, Help-In-Crisis’ retail shop, donates clothing and household goods, even older televisions.
“When the men leave the shelter, we provide donations of clothes, blankets and TVs,” Stephenson said.
Long-term, she would like to help the men transition from the shelter.
“I hope to have in place a system of case managers who will help the men get their needs met to get on their feet,” said Stephenson. “That would eventually be a paid position.”
The public is invited to a meeting addressing homelessness assistance and a day center at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 10, at the Presbyterian Church.