NORMAN — “We need help,” April Doshier, executive director of Food and Shelter, said Thursday afternoon during the Wings of Hope luncheon benefiting the agency.
“People come to us in the absolute worst times in their lives. Imagine if your life is crumbling out from under you and you have nowhere to live. You’re a mom, and you have no where to lay your babies down at night,” Doshier said. “I’d love to tell you that this is getting better, but I have to tell you that this has been a hard summer on our volunteers and staff.”
Doshier said Food and Shelter has had about 160 to 170 individuals daily seeking meals. Two years ago, daily totals were around 120, Doshier said.
The luncheon was a kickoff event for the Wings of Hope campaign, which would like to raise $25,000. Doshier said that through sponsorships, the United Way agency has raises $3,850 for the campaign.
The luncheon also allowed recognition of six individuals from Skills Training and Resources for Tomorrow. The program is a three-dimensional approach to employment readiness.
About a year ago, Food and Shelter partnered with Zena Amer of the Moore Norman Technology Center to provide in-class education and training for clients. Classroom sessions focus on communication, employee/employer relations, rules of employment and maintaining employment.
Antonio Butler, Gwendolyn Irvin, Tonya Johnson, John Langone, Lisa Martin and Nicole Gore Rodgers were recognized.
“They were great to work with. I’m so proud of you guys, very proud,” Amer said.
Langone said he has no clue where he would be if it weren’t for Food and Shelter. He’s also very grateful for the S.T.A.R.T program.
Langone was laid off from his job. When unemployment ran out, he was forced to sleep on friends’ couches.
“I got a little bit depressed when I couldn’t find a job. I was trying to find a place to live,” Langone said.
Now, Langone said, with the help of Food and Shelter, he has started to get back on his feet.
“What Food and Shelter has done for me is it’s helped me get my self respect back. And it’s helped me get my dignity back,” Langone said.
Langone has managed to obtain a job at Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s a little bit more pay and has benefits. It helps out quite a bit. Lately, we’ve been helping out fire victims here in Cleveland County, too. So I’m still giving back to the community,” he said.
Mande Schlotterback became homeless after some drug-related incidents. She eventually found Food and Shelter and is now drug free and supporting her three children.
Schlotterback told the audience that her husband also had a problem with drugs.
“We had gone through a lot of years where he had used drugs, spent our rent money, our utility money. He had wrecked a car, ran from the police, and is now currently serving his second sentence,” Schlotterback said.
Schlotterback’s sister made the call to Food and Shelter for her and, soon, she was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It was unbelievable. I saved money and bought a car. I saved money so that when my Section 8 voucher came through, I was able to move out. I still have the very same duplex. It’s beautiful,” Schlotterback said. “I’m paying my bills. I’m supporting my kids. And keeping the line of communication with my husband so that when he straightens up, he can come home and we can be a family. That wouldn’t of happened without Food and Shelter.”
Donations to Food and Shelter can be made at 104 W. Comanche St. in Norman.