These are questions they ask daily at The Oasis of Kingsport, a day center that serves homeless and low-income women with the goal of helping them to achieve self-sufficiency.
The Oasis is inviting the community to come out June 22 for a free cookout meal, free music, kids’ activities, and information about the important work they and more than 20 community partner organizations are doing in the city.
The center, which is Christian-based and located on East Sullivan Street, offers a variety of services, from showers and laundry to counseling to classes that range from nutrition and crafts to job skills and resume-building to Bible study.
Class participants are also awarded points they can redeem for household items like cooking pots and towels – and, at a few special events each year, have the opportunity to receive items like bras, food boxes, and cosmetics.
But the effort is much broader than helping homeless and low-income women with basic services, says Director Shantell Bogle; the aim is a wraparound of help and encouragement to give these women a hand up to help them get back on their feet – and under a stable roof.
“We kind of walk with these women to mentor them and go through the stages of life with them, including providing them classes and things like that that give them emotional and spiritual support,” Bogle says.
“We are able to have some success to get people out of those situations. We put people in houses and apartments, and we take donations up, and when they [move in], we celebrate with them. We help them get furniture they need. I’ve went to their house and hung curtains – and you just do what you can to help people.”
An important part of what they do at The Oasis is help guests develop their own self-sufficiency plan – a set of goals that can include help from other local nonprofits with things like job referrals, tutoring, education, or development of needed skills.
The struggles women in the community face are many, Bogle says – from generational poverty to abuse and cyclical relationship problems to single motherhood, addiction, criminal history, and mental health challenges.
But for those who seek to do better than the hand they’ve been dealt thus far, it’s possible – especially with help – to achieve a better life. Funded by donations from individuals and churches in the community – and staffed almost entirely by volunteers – The Oasis of Kingsport offers help to all women who are in need.
“We want to not only better our community, but we want to empower them through faith. We want them to know Jesus,” Bogle says. “Our ultimate goal is for women to be able to be self-sufficient; we want to empower them to take care of themselves in situations where they don’t have people to take care of them.”
At Oasis of Kingsport, she says, a common thread is that they’re all women: Regardless of their background, their struggles, their past choices and mistakes, the goal is to help them strive for their potential.
Their lives don’t always have an instant turnaround, Bogle says; it can take time for someone to escape destructive patterns and choose a different path – and then get the help they need to move forward. But there are enough success stories that even witnessing the day-to-day frustrations that so many people face, Bogle says, it’s so worth it to get involved.
The public is invited to attend the community anniversary event, which will be held from 4 to 7 p.m., June 22 at the Kingsport Farmers Market. Several local nonprofits will be present with booths along with The Oasis of Kingsport. A free cookout meal will be provided along with games and inflatables for kids, free music, face painting, haircuts, and “blessing bags” full of toiletries.
For more information about The Oasis of Kingsport, you can visit them online at www.oasisofkingsport.org, e-mail [email protected], or call (423) 392-1137.