Project O Si Yo, a local men’s shelter, has aided hundreds of men down on their luck since its inception. It was the brainchild of Tom Lewis, who recently retired due to health concerns.
Becky Stephenson took the helm in mid-October, but has been involved with the aid agency about six years ago.
“I had inquired about the existence of a men’s shelter to several people I work with,” said Stephenson. “I knew of Help-In-Crisis and Hope House, but did not know about the men’s shelter until I was talking with Becky Baughman one day when I was working as a volunteer for Tahlequah CARE Food Pantry.”
Stephenson is a caregiver who works in the OB/GYN department at Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital, and she likes helping others.
“I enjoy making life more meaningful for those in need – whether it is shelter, hunger, social isolation or other problems we so often tend to overlook,” said Stephenson. “I feel it is part of my Christian calling to ‘walk the walk.’”
Stephenson also enjoys networking with like-minded people in the community to join together to address the needs of the less fortunate.
Project O Si Yo is run by an administrative board, of which Stephenson has been elected president.
“We have monthly meetings on the third Thursday of the month, but may change the date, depending on problems or business that may need to be addressed,” said Stephenson.
Stephenson’s immediate goals are to secure stable sources of funding and assure adequate, permanent shelter for homeless men.
“The shelter has room to accommodate 12, but in emergencies, such as freezing weather, we have had 16,” said Stephenson. “We are applying for grants on a continual basis to help secure funding.”
Those involved with O Si Yo provide more than shelter to those seeking assistance.
“We give clients information about obtaining food stamps, counseling, health care, job availability, and food,” said Stephenson. “We also appreciate the community’s help with donations of all kinds.”
Stephenson said she appreciates all the hard work Lewis contributed during his tenure, and hopes to continue the good work.
“We are grateful for all of Tom’s hard work in establishing O Si Yo,” she said. “The board has many new, energetic members who are moving the business of the shelter forward in a positive manner.
O Si Yo will host a fundraiser garage sale Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Tahlequah Community Building. To find out more about Project O Si Yo or to make a donation, call (918) 453-2520.