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