Community donations help Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma provide services amid COVID-19, new shelter almost complete

Sierra Rains
The Daily Ardmoreite

Even in times of hardship, community support for the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma has prevailed. While the shelter had to cancel its largest annual fundraiser due to COVID-19, an influx of donations over the past year and recent months has helped the shelter continue to provide more services than ever before. 

The Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma offers services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Family Shelter Executive Director Kathy Manning said monetary donations are a huge part of keeping the shelter’s three facilities operating and making critical services available for victims. 

A large portion of funds that have been funneling into the shelter’s Shelter in Place Capital Campaign since February 2019 have gone towards a new 6,000-square-foot shelter that has the potential to serve 39 individuals, including children. This more than doubles the shelter’s former capacity. 

The facility includes a 30-bed emergency shelter, children’s play room, kitchen, dining room and an administration, counseling and advocacy area. The bigger space will give the shelter more opportunities for resources and on-site services in areas such as substance abuse and parenting support — all under one roof. 

“I think that the community supports our mission and what it is that we’re trying to do for the community,” Manning said. “I feel like they were just big supporters of that and wanted to have a place for more victims to seek safety when they’re fleeing from violence and just have a safe place to begin their healing journey, to start over in their own time, at their own pace.”

Manning said the shelter’s goal of $1 million was reached within the first 10 months and surpassed within the first year. The inside renovations to the new shelter are expected to be completed this month. Some of the extra funds have also gone towards added privacy, security and parking. 

“We still have the community support, not only with the capital campaign, but also with Casino Night,” Manning said. “It’s such a relief and it’s so incredible, the amount of support that we do receive.”

Every year the shelter holds a Casino Night fundraiser to help raise funds for general operations and any emergencies that may arise. This fundraiser typically brings in thousands of dollars for the shelter. However, the shelter was in the middle of fundraising when COVID-19 hit the United States in March and Manning said they had to stop.  

The Casino Night fundraiser has now been pushed almost a full year ahead, to March 26, 2021. While this decreased this year’s funds, several sponsors for the event still donated money. A total of $41,500 was raised by sponsors. 

“All of these sponsors that we were able to reach out to were so willing to give to the shelter so that we have the things that we need and we’re able to continue serving and operating,” Manning said. 

Manning said the shelter is looking forward to making March’s fundraiser event bigger and better than ever and wants to thank the sponsors and community for their support over the past 30 years. “Each in their own way adds to the success of our program and we couldn’t do what we do without their support,” she said. 

If you or someone you know experiences domestic violence, The Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma offers free services, including counseling and crisis services. The 24 hour Crisis Hotline number is (580) 226-6424.