Dream Center expands to meet growing need
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, January 14, 2012
3/23/12 at 7:27 PM
The Tulsa Dream Center, a north Tulsa outreach of Victory Christian Center, will nearly double its size to meet a sharp increase in demand for basic social services.
The $2.5 million addition, to be completed this spring, will add 20,000 square feet to the now 30,000-square-foot building at 200 W. 46th St. North.
"We've seen our numbers in the last two years increase 30 percent each year," said the Rev. Wendell Hope, director of the center since it was founded 11 years ago.
"A lot of it is for food and clothing, sometimes to get them over a temporary setback in their lives. There's a lot of people out there who've lost their jobs," he said.
The concrete slab for the new addition will be poured next week, weather permitting.
The two-story structure will have classrooms upstairs and warehouse space downstairs, with food and clothing banks and a furniture outlet.
That will free up space in the existing building for an expanded medical clinic and waiting room, hot food service area, lobby area and offices. A new chapel will be built in the existing building.
The expansion also will better accommodate children who come to the center for after-school and summer programs.
"We've had to turn children away. There just wasn't room," Hope said.
He said the Dream Center was the fulfillment of a vision of the late Billy Joe Daugherty, when he was pastor of Victory Christian, and his wife, Sharon Daugherty, to help people with food, clothing, medical and other basic needs.
For years, Victory had been holding monthly outreach meetings in north Tulsa under a tent, but the Daughertys wanted to expand that to daily ministry, Hope said.
When the addition is completed, the building will form the shape of a cross when viewed from the air, which was Billy Joe Daugherty's goal, Hope said.
During its 11 years, the center has greatly expanded its services, he said. In the last two years, the demand for clothing and food has skyrocketed.
"It's because of the recession, no doubt about it," he said.
He said the clothing bank sometimes sees as many as 1,000 people a week and had 18,289 clients in 2011.
"It's just a continual flow," Hope said.
Hot meals were served at noon three days a week to 14,876 people in 2011. In addition, on two evenings a week, the ministry buses in about 75 homeless people from the downtown area to pick out free clothes, eat a hot meal and attend a church service.
The food pantry prepared and gave away 2,456 food baskets in 2011. Unlike some food pantries, the Dream Center gives away fresh food, including eggs, meat, bread and milk.
The medical clinic saw 1,483 patients in 2011.
Working with public schools, the Dream Center provides after-school tutoring and mentoring to about 40 students a day. It also offers recreational activities for older students, martial arts classes, Bible classes on Saturdays, a computer lab with Internet access for students and job seekers, and a variety of other services.
All programs at the center are free.
"There's nothing else for these kids to do, for miles," Hope said.
Operating on a budget of $300,000 a year, the center has five paid employees, including Hope, and about 150 volunteers each week from some 20 churches. Many of the volunteers are from Victory.
Food and clothing are donated by various churches, businesses and individuals.
"Tulsans are generous people," Hope said.
The center sponsors several big events each year: the Shine women's conference; a fall festival for children; a Thanksgiving harvest feast, which this year fed 735 people; and a Christmas outreach with gifts for children and food for adults, attended this year by 2,318 people.
How important is the center to the community?
"It's major," Hope said. "Just ask the people. They're so grateful to have a place to come and get their needs met."
Tulsa Dream Center 2011
Clothing bank clients: 18,289
Hot meals served: 14,876
Food baskets given away: 2,456
Medical clinic patients: 1,483
Christmas outreach participants: 2,318
Thanksgiving meals served: 735
Annual budget: $300,000
Paid employees: 5
Weekly volunteers: 150
Original Print Headline: Expanding the Dream
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Wanda Recess has her blood pressure checked Wednesday by Dr. William Dudney at the Dream Center. The center, which has seen a skyrocketing number of clients, also contains a chapel, food pantry, clothing bank, recreational center and computer lab. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
The Rev. Wendell Hope (right) shakes hands Wednesday with people in the food line at the Dream Center, which serves hot lunches three days a week. An expansion under construction will allow the center to serve more people. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Randy Mantooth of Jonlen Concrete works Wednesday on the $2.5 million expansion of the Dream Center. The new wing will allow the center to expand its medical clinic and other services. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Avan Lampkin (left) laughs Wednesday with clothing room coordinator Sherman Dillard at the Dream Center. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World