By BOB LEWIS
GETTING READY: Broken Arrow Neighbors Board President Jeff VanDolah, right, and Executive Director Kim Goddard, left, pitch in to help BAN Volunteer Linda Hundley stock shelves at the agency’s food pantry warehouse as they prepare for what is expected to be an especially busy holiday season.
Broken Arrow Express photo
Charlie (not his real name) had just celebrated his 42nd birthday. He had a wife, three kids and a steady job that allowed him to provide a comfortable lifestyle for his family. Then, without warning, he learned his company was being downsized and his services were no longer required.
In an attempt to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, Charlie realized securing new employment in his field would be practically impossible. So, he and his wife decided the best course of action would be for him to return to school to gain the education needed to start anew in a different profession. The family’s savings would be tapped to keep them afloat and Charlie would help by taking any and all jobs that might come up, regardless of pay scales. Unfortunately, those opportunities were few and far between, the family’s savings were rapidly depleted and he had no idea who to turn to for help.
Fortunately for Charlie, and those like him in the community, there is Broken Arrow Neighbors.
Executive Director Kim Goddard notes the not-for-profit agency is comprised of people of all faiths who believe meeting the needs of the under-served, financially disadvantaged and the elderly is a community responsibility. To some of the 13,000 people helps each year, it is the difference between continuing to live independently or becoming just another government statistic – homeless and broken.
Emphasizing its mission of “assistance with dignity,” Goddard and Board President Jeff VanDolah say Broken Arrow Neighbors has become almost as diverse as the growing number of people who count on it for help. Even a quick survey of the organization proves the accuracy of that statement.
Perhaps the most basic of all human needs is the ability to put food on the table. That’s why maintains a food pantry that regularly assists more than 11,000 people a year.
The agency makes available limited funding to help an average of 1,300 clients annually stay current with things like rent, paying utility bills and handling emergency needs – all with the understanding these loans will be repaid when it is possible.
It’s no-cost medical clinic, staffed by doctors, nurses and pharmacists who volunteer their time, provides health care services to more than 400 people a year. The agency also supports a no-cost dental clinic where professionals volunteer their services to help a growing number of people without access to this type of care.
Then, there is a community garden, school supplies distribution, holiday assistance, no-cost legal services, outreach programs and “BAN Food for Kids.”
With the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons at hand, Goddard and VanDolah say the demand for these services traditionally peaks.
Funding for these undertakings comes from a diverse giving base that includes local residents, churches, businesses, civic organizations, the Tulsa Area United Way and foundations as well as an annual “Wine, Eats and Easels” fundraiser and a bimonthly book sale.
Its’ website notes “Broken Arrow Neighbors reaches out to those in need. We nourish the body with food and the spirit with respect and dignity. We are gentle with the angry, patient with the trying, firm with the weak, supportive to the struggling, a companion to the lonely and hospitable to all.”
To learn more about Broken Arrow Neighbors or to help fulfill its mission, visit baneighbors.org.