NORMAN — Ten years ago, a nonprofit organization started in a single room. It was January 2003 and the new activity center known as Among Friends had six disabled adults participating.
In September 2010, Among Friends expanded its space in the Community Services Building, 1183 E. Main St. in Norman, to 4,000 square feet. This newer space is fully handicap accessible, accommodates 52 active members and serves 32 family caregivers. The 2010 expansion included a kitchen, large game/meal area, large movie room, an activity room with an outside courtyard area, a craft room, offices and a utility room.
“We started with six clients over at the First Baptist Church Common Ground area. We started meeting one or to days a week,” Executive Director Cathe Fox told The Transcript in a 2011 interview. “We realized there was a lot of people that didn’t qualify for the different programs that were already here. And they were just sitting at home very bored, suffering from depression and isolation. We’re a social outlet for them.”
Today, Fox said that need and the organization’s mission has not changed.
“We provide a place for the disabled adult population to come each day to make friends, to develop skills and to build self-reliance and as much independence as possible,” Fox said.
Ironically, this hope-bestowing organization grew out of the seed of disaster.
In 1997, Fox’s teenage daughter sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Jennifer Fox was left with severe disabilities that would confine her to a wheelchair for life.
Like many mothers, Cathe Fox became Jennifer's primary caregiver. Following Jennifer’s graduation from Norman North High School in 2002, Cathe Fox realized there was no place for Jennifer to spend her days in Norman.
In 2003, Cathe and Jennifer Fox joined other mothers and their adult children with disabilities and started meeting in the Common Ground building of the First Baptist Church, where the Fox family are members.