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Oklahomans are generous people. We give our time, our finances, and our prayers for each other. Even in good economic times, there are so many people around us with so many needs. Serving your neighbor is not about how much money you have or the title you hold; it’s about compassion, duty, and hope. While we each do a great deal individually, we can do even more when we work together. That’s the vision behind this weekend’s Embrace Hope event.   

On March 14, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the old Gibson’s building in Lawton, the innovative Embrace Hope community event will offer southwest Oklahomans an opportunity to access free services including: housing (shelter, affordable housing, information, and referral); food (nutrition); warrant forgiveness assistance; medical assistance including, dental, optometry, and pregnancy resources; WIC/SNAP assistance; physical therapy; haircuts; clothing; photography; and others. It will also allow Oklahomans to show off their Oklahoma Standard as we help our neighbors in need.   

Government support is important, but support from neighbors is personal and life-changing. The government and talented government workers can organize and provide important social safety net programs at the state and federal levels to offer families assistance through hard times. According to Oklahoma DHS, in fiscal year 2019, 78,126 households received winter heating assistance in our state. More than 378, 000 Oklahoma households received food benefits like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The US Congress works to ensure these programs are available to help those in need, but our nation should go further than that to help the people around us as we together target the causes and effects of poverty. In their moments of crisis, people need a mentor and a friend, not just an assistance check.  

Embrace Hope is entirely free and was paid for and supported through the work and generosity of hundreds of volunteers and donations. We believe it is a simple, easy-to-access way for the southwest Oklahoma community to serve our fellow Oklahomans. Embrace Hope is also designed to help volunteers get to know a ministry or non-profit in our area so they can give their time to serve our community year round. There are many great organizations in southwest Oklahoma that help people significantly every week, but they need more volunteers willing to give their time and talents to keep up with the needs in our community. Many people want to help their neighbors. Embrace Hope is a way to learn how to do it for a day that could lead you to helping year round.   

People coming for help and hope don’t need to sign up in advance. Just show up at 1130 SW Lee Blvd., Lawton, OK, 73501 (the old Gibson’s building). But if you’d like to volunteer this weekend, please contact Brenda Spencer-Ragland at mailto:bspencerragland@gmail.comor visit the event website at www.bestlocallifeok.com.

We are stronger as a community, state, and nation when we stand together to meet one another’s needs. Embrace Hope does just that. Let’s honor each other by serving each other and be served by one another—together. We look forward to seeing you at Embrace Hope.