Love celebrated at Tulsa's Day Center for the Homeless
BY MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer
Friday, February 15, 2013
2/15/13 at 5:43 AM
Milissa Phillips wasn't going to let her situation get her down this Valentine's Day.
Homeless since November, Phillips has been staying at the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless.
"She said, 'Today is my day,' " said her boyfriend, Jody Hammons.
The couple weren't alone in their celebration, either.
Nearly 500 homeless people packed into the Day Center for its annual Valentine's Day party.
Guests enjoyed a meal of grilled chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables. They were also given gift bags and a rose.
"It's a real treat," Phillips said. "It's rare we get such good food and are treated with such respect. It makes me feel good."
Sandra Lewis, executive director at the day center, said the event is a way to say "I love you" to all those who might not have anyone else to tell them that on the holiday.
"Sometimes a holiday like this can be depressing if you're in a bad situation. This is a way to cheer everyone up," Lewis said.
The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma supplied the food, and staff members from the Schusterman Foundation served the plates.
"This is really a special way to spend a day, which we mark as a celebration of love and coming together and serving," said Eileen Bradshaw, executive director of the food bank. "We all look forward to this each year."
In addition to sponsoring and serving the lunch, the Schusterman Foundation will donate beds to the Day Center's program for community members who have recently transferred into private housing.
This is the ninth year the Schusterman Foundation has sponsored the event but the first year for Schusterman employee Janice League to participate.
"It's great. The energy is so upbeat, and everyone is working together as a team," League said.
Lynn Schusterman came up with the idea for the party shortly after her husband, Charles Schusterman, died.
"She felt everyone should have somebody who loves them and wanted to throw a party to say 'I love you,' " Lewis said.
Bama Pie donated apple pies for dessert, and the gift bags were filled with Frontier Produce and the Doubletree Hotel's signature cookies. Mary Murray's Flowers provided the roses.
"It's great to see the partnership between philanthropies, businesses and nonprofits. It's the best of what Tulsa has to offer," food bank spokeswoman Susan Tilkin said.
Original Print Headline: Love is everywhere, even at lunchtime
Mike Averill 918-581-8489
Jacob Basralian dances with 7-month-old Raylin Heiney, the daughter of one of Basralian's friends, to live music at a Valentine's Day luncheon Thursday at the Day Center for the Homeless. JOHN CLANTON/ Tulsa World
Milissa Phillips and her boyfriend, Jody Hammons, share a kiss during a Valentine's Day luncheon Thursday at the Day Center for the Homeless. JOHN CLANTON/ Tulsa World