GFWC Heeko sponsors HELP WORKS Christmas Party

Kathryn SwanJ-C Correspondent
GFWC Heeko sponsors HELP WORKS Christmas Party

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series about HELP WORKS, INC. which originated in 1978 to provide enhanced opportunities for developmentally challenged individuals.

A combined total of 60 HELP WORKS clients, family and friends were treated to a Christmas party last Monday. This annual fete has been sponsored by members of the GFWC Heeko Club for the past 36th years. Heeko Christmas party hostesses included Barbara McVey, Paula Rabb, Sue Moyer, Dottie Allen, Julia Provance, Rosemary Justensen and Mary Hull.

In addition to a beautiful array of holiday goodies, 29 HELP WORKS clients received gifts purchased by Heeko members from each client’s individual wish list. Santa then handed out the wrapped presents to the eagerly waiting guests.

GFWC Heeko President Debbie Reed said, “For a number of years, the HELP Christmas party was held in the home of the late Mary McCartney. She not only provided an elegantly decorated setting but made sure Santa found his way to hand out the gifts. When Mary’s health began to fail, we moved the party to the Senior Citizens Center. After it closed, we began holding it in the Methodist Church’s Family Life Center. For the past two years, the United Methodist Men have joined Heeko in hosting the party and Santa.”

HELP WORKS, Inc. was the dream and vision of a small group of Osage County citizens who shared a common bond. Led by Juanita Apala, they each had loved ones with developmental disabilities. With nothing available in Osage County to help in their quest to provide an enhanced quality of life for their loved ones, HELP WORKS was launched in 1978 in the basement of Pawhuska’s First Christian Church.

A year later, it was incorporated. HELP WORKS moved to its current facility (the old Lincoln Elementary School) in 1980. In 1987, the program progressed into an employment agency where clients have grown into productive members of society. Executive Director Janie Glendenning said, “Our agency takes pride in training our individuals to be self-sufficient in a community setting with an active role in their own life decisions. By partnership with our business community, individuals are trained to perform many tasks under the supervision of our well-trained staff.

“We have the distinction of being the only agency in all of Osage County to provide this type of support. Our goal is to help each individual reach his or her full potential, whatever that may be.

“Our clients and staff keep very busy. In our workshop, we build buggy whips and hurricane-line antennas. The antennas are for ham operators in tropical areas and are shipped all over the world. In addition, we have our ongoing aluminum-can recycling program. We provide janitorial services (including window washing) for several areas businesses and churches. We also deliver daily meals for the Barnsdall Nutrition Center.”

As a nonprofit organization, HELP WORKS is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Officers for 2014-2016 include Gerald Moore, President, Cecil Wood, Jr., Vice President, Kathy (Ware) Steward, Secretary, and Margie Moore, Treasurers. Directors are Katherine Albarracin, Lem Apala, Marcine Baze, Tammy Cartwright, Senator Eddie Fields, Rev. Jeff Laughlin, Clifford Mills and Barbara Strahm.

In addition to Glendenning, key workshop staff members include Tricia Thomas, Tara Hendren and Sara O’Rourke. As Workshop and Vocational Program Coordinator, Thomas oversees individual client’s participation in community activities, provides day-to-day life skills, such as shopping, money management, adult living, safety, telephone usage and accessing transportation.

Hendren overseas HELP WORKS Research & Development. “She is so creative and researches many of the ideas that we think will work for our clients,” said Glendenning. “Some of the ideas we have considered are an animal rescue center and a laundry mat and cleaning services. We even thought about repurposing the old Homeland store to host parties like Beverly Moore is doing at ‘The Brick’ but that idea fell through when I could not find the building’s owner.

“Tara coordinates our events, including our first formal Christmas Ball scheduled for December 14th at the Elks Lodge. She has arranged a catered dinner for our clients, staff and board of directors.”

O’Rourke is the Financial Advisor for HELP WORKS and oversees payroll, social security, and filing federal reports, among other things.

Cassie Dingman Overseas the Residential part of the HELP program, along with Gwen McBride as Residential Program Coordinator, and Christine Faulkner as Group Home Supervisor of House managers. There is a house manager for each of our homes as well as many staff.