SIL­VER LIN­ING

Sky­line Ur­ban Min­istry moves for­ward with pub­lic's help in af­ter­math of theft

The Oklahoman - - FRONT PAGE - Carla Hin­ton

Sky­line Ur­ban Min­istry moves for­ward with pub­lic's help in af­ter­math of trailer theft

Sky­line Ur­ban Min­istry has con­tin­ued its out­reach to the home­less de­spite the re­cent theft of most of its min­istry ma­te­ri­als. Lead­ers with the non­profit briefly had won­dered if the Jan. 29 theft of a trailer full of min­istry items would be a set­back. “It was trau­matic. We worked re­ally hard to get this trailer and all the stuff for us to use only to have it taken,” said Brian Stevens, Sky­line's op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor. How­ever, Deb­o­rah In­gra­ham, the agency's ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said the theft and re­cov­ery of the trailer turned out to be a “bless­ing in dis­guise.” In­gra­ham said mem­bers of the com­mu­nity-at-large quickly came for­ward to en­sure that Sky­line's street out­reach pro­gram would not have to be shut down, even tem­po­rar­ily. She said the news about the trailer theft gen­er­ated pub­lic­ity and re­sulted in more peo­ple learn­ing about the or­ga­ni­za­tion's mis­sion to help the most vul­ner­a­ble in their midst. “Not only has ev­ery­thing been cov­ered, but it's a bless­ing be­cause it's given peo­ple more aware­ness of the min­istry,” In­gra­ham said. She and Stevens said one of the first to of­fer sup­port was an Ed­mond-based com­pany called Club­house Trail­ers that of­fered their com­pli­men­tary ser­vices to fix what the thieves broke when they stole the trailer. The com­pany also de­cided to make the trailer bet­ter and more ef­fi­cient by in­stalling light­ing on the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior, plus in­stalling so­lar pan­els. Stevens said the light­ing will make it eas­ier for the min­istry when it of­fers evening meals that con­tinue af­ter sun­set. “They gave us things that we didn't even have be­fore,” he said of Club­house Trail­ers. “Ba­si­cally, it re­stored my sense of hu­man­ity — even though there's bad, there's still a lot of good out there.”

`The true bless­ing'

Thieves stole the min­istry's trailer from the agency's park­ing lot about 10 p.m. Jan. 29 af­ter staff mem­bers and vol­un­teers were gone from Sky­line's head­quar­ters, 500 SE 15. At the time, In­gra­ham ex­pressed her dis­ap­point­ment when New­cas­tle po­lice found the trailer, but it had been emp­tied of about $6,000 worth of goods. In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the theft, In­gra­ham ap­pealed to kind-hearted mem­bers of the com­mu­nity whom she hoped would help the agency re­place the stolen goods. The stolen items in­cluded pic­nic tables, canopy-tents, benches, a mi­crowave, a gas gen­er­a­tor, space heaters, shoes, blan­kets, sleep­ing backs, wa­ter bot­tles, cloth­ing and warm­ing trays. Sky­line, an af­fil­i­ate of the Ok­la­homa Con­fer­ence of the United Methodist Church, had only pur­chased the trailer in Jan­uary for its street out­reach pro­gram to the home­less that be­gan in June 2018. In­gra­ham and the Rev. An­dre Con­tino, the out­reach's co­or­di­na­tor, said Sky­line has con­tin­ued to go through­out the city to aid the home­less, with the pub­lic's sup­port.

[PHO­TOS BY CARLA HIN­TON/THE OKLAHOMAN]

Sky­line Ur­ban Min­istry vol­un­teers serve a hot meal to peo­ple gath­ered at a lot ad­ja­cent to Cam­bridge Com­mu­nity Church in south Ok­la­homa City.

A red trailer, seen here be­hind the Sky­line Ur­ban Min­istry van, was stolen in Jan­uary, but the com­mu­nity has helped the United Methodist af­fil­i­ate agency re­coup its losses and con­tinue to of­fer food and aid to the home­less.

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