When Winter Storm Uri struck the U.S. in February, the consequences were devastating.
More than 100 people lost their lives and millions had their power interrupted due to blackouts. In Oklahoma, winter storm warnings were issued for all 77 counties.
Organizations that could assist mobilized, and among them was the Westside Community Center (WCC) in Bartlesville. Part of the Green Country landscape for more than 70 years, the WCC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and proud partner agency of the Bartlesville Regional United Way (BRUW). It offers programs and services at little to no cost to those who wish to use them and has a stated mission to “develop and deliver unique programs which educate, empower and enrich lives in the community.”
As the impact of Winter Storm Uri began to be felt in Bartlesville, an area of need which became quickly apparent was adequate shelter from the cold for those who might otherwise be in harm’s way. When he became aware of the need, WCC executive director Lorront Carney acted quickly to make the WCC building available as a warming center.
“We were in a position to help people,” says Carney, “so that’s what we tried to do.”
As was the case with businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the world, 2020 was a difficult year for the WCC. The organization often had to close its doors out of respect for health and safety protocols put in place due to the global pandemic known as COVID-19. Participation in youth-focused programs such as Community Advanced Study Hall (C.A.S.H.) and Work Ethics Prosper (W.E. Pro$per), aimed at helping young men and women hone their scholastic skills as well as those which will serve them well in the job market, understandably declined.
But despite the challenges, those at the WCC continued to believe their organization offered value to the community and could meet any challenge when called upon. That call came in February, and the challenge was indeed met.
Over a two-week span, the WCC provided shelter from the storm for approximately 25 to 30 people a day. Those in need would stay the night at the facility when they needed to, and were given bedding, personal hygiene products and meals. The WCC partnered with fellow BRUW non-profit member agencies such as Mary Martha Outreach and Agape Mission to make sure all the needs of those who utilized the warming center were met.
“I’m very thankful to the Bartlesville Regional United Way as well as our partner agencies for their help,” says Carney. “While providing a warming agency isn’t necessarily the type of assistance that we’re used to providing when it comes to lifting up our community, it was the kind that was needed in this particular instance. So, when we saw an opportunity to help those in need, that’s exactly what we looked to do.”
Those wishing to learn more about the WCC and all that it has to offer can follow the organization via social media on Facebook and Twitter. Questions can be directed to the main office number at 918-336-6760.
To learn more about the Bartlesville Regional United Way, please visit their dedicated website at www.bartlesvilleuw.org. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr as well.