Jesus House to expand, offer additional services 

click to enlarge Dignitaries break ground during a groundbreaking ceremony at the Jesus House in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Dignitaries break ground during a groundbreaking ceremony at the Jesus House in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015.

Over the past three years, Jesus House in downtown Oklahoma City has ministered to the physical needs of thousands of the city’s homeless, near homeless, addicted and mentally ill.

Michael Bateman, executive director of Jesus House, said that the nearly 300,000 meals it has served, more than 100,000 items of clothing it has given away and more than 90,000 food baskets it has donated around Thanksgiving have “serv[ed] people that just haven’t had their cards dealt right to them.”

Now, Bateman, his staff and a cadre of volunteers plan to help the city’s less fortunate through expanding the center’s educational services.

More than 100 volunteers, staff, donors, public health officials and clients gathered in February at Jesus House, 1335 W. Sheridan Ave., to break ground on an expansion to the main building, one Bateman hopes will help break the cycle of poverty in the state.

Since 2012, Jesus House’s Transitional Goals Program (TGP) helped clients earn General Educational Development (GED) credentials. However, all GED testing facilities in the metro use paperless tests.

“We found that our GED preparatory program lacked the equipment and resources needed to effectively prepare our students,” Bateman said.

He and the board also discovered a 2009 federal study that said the average single American needed at least a $16-per-hour working wage to survive.

“Here, we are trying to get opportunities to get them minimum-wage jobs,” said Bateman, adding that it is often a “red flag for addictive behavior” for those who work long hours and cannot make enough money to get by.

Additionally, they found over 30 percent of Jesus House’s clients would utilize an updated GED program.

Employing the idea that higher levels of education can lead to better jobs, better salaries and, ultimately, better lives, Bateman said the board’s plan helps educate locals so they can help themselves.

click to enlarge Councilwoman Meg Salyer speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony at the Jesus House in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Councilwoman Meg Salyer speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony at the Jesus House in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015.

Helping Oklahomans

Bateman said the board reached out to its donor base, which included some of the city’s energy corporations and three major contracting and construction companies, to help raise more than $71,000 to fund the project. Not only was the fundraising project an “above and beyond” effort by those donors but it was also enough to fully finance the construction project.

“That’s Oklahomans coming together, seeing a need and making it happen,” Bateman said. “Oklahomans just give, and the more we give and do, the more we receive.”

He said the new facility will be slightly smaller than 600 square feet and will have a dozen desks and computers for clients to use to prepare for GED testing. Originally hoping for a mid-May completion date, the center is currently waiting on city code approval to begin construction on the expansion.

Giving fish

In addition to the meals it serves, clothes it donates and educational services it provides, Jesus House also reaches out to the community through the Adopt-A-Block program, in which its clients and other volunteers help beautify neighborhoods nearest the main facility. Jesus House also provides facilities for addiction recovery groups and a chapel open every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning to tend to clients’ spiritual needs.

The TGP will continue to help clients through its original offerings of medical care, prescription assistance, counseling, life skills classes, legal assistance, financial responsibility classes, employment placement services and housing placement.

Bateman said the expanded learning services will help clients even further.

“We want to give them hope,” he said, “so that when they leave, they won’t have to come back.”

Visit jesushouseokc.org or call 232-7164 for more information on the facility or how to volunteer with or donate to Jesus House.


Print headline: Breaking poverty, Jesus House expands to offer more services to help people earn GEDs and better jobs.

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