Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive May 2017 Show 1721 ROC: Reaching Our City

ROC: Reaching Our City

A group in northwest Oklahoma City is working to help people strengthen themselves, their families and their communities.
ROC: Reaching Our City

ROC: Reaching Our City

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ROC – Reaching Our City

Francis Tuttle Technology Center

CareerTech – TANF Program

ROC video 2015

Show Details

Show 1721: ROC: Reaching Our City
Air Date: May 21, 2017



Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. Well, it’s often said that charity starts at home, but for many students it begins in the classroom. Our focus today is how seemingly simple acts of kindness can change generations of lives. And we begin in northwest Oklahoma City with a group working to help people strengthen themselves, their families and their community.

Blane Singletary: At the ROC resale shop and other thrift shops like it, spring cleaning season is one of the busiest times of the year.

Lori Smith: Spring’s always a great time. We paint our windows. We get things kinda moving, and we get out all our spring donations. And we have great spring clothes.

Blane: That’s Lori Smith, director of the ROC Resale Shop.

Lori Smith: I always say those first few months of turning over our merchandise, those are the best things we’ll have all season.

Blane: But unlike most other thrift shops, this one is all about charity and volunteering, which is what drove Lori to this place.

Lori Smith: I actually have a college degree in retail management. And so I was always looking for a way to get back into that, but not in the retail world where it takes up your whole life. But something more like this where there’s autonomy and good deeds going along with the process of actually a retail store.

Blane: The ROC, short for Reaching Our City, is a non-profit ministry. For nearly two decades, they’ve been serving some of the poorest people in Oklahoma City, and this resale shop is just one of the ways they do that. They also maintain a food pantry, a church, and provide social and community programs. But as Executive Director and Lead Pastor Richard Schneberger tells us, everything they do goes far beyond merely giving aid to these needy families.

Richard Schneberger: At the heart of what we do and why we do it is to restore dignity and value to people. Poverty is a lack of resources, but there’s a stigma that comes along with it. And many of our people are struggling, not just with a lack of resources, but a sense of value and a sense of dignity in their life. A bigger part of what we’re doing is trying to say, “You matter, you’re valuable, you’re important, you can do something with your life.”

Blane: And that plays into what the resale shop is all about. They could give these clothes away, and they sometimes do, when the situation demands it. But Lori Smith finds that even the poorest people would rather shop for them.

Lori Smith: For people who where this is the only place they can shop, we want it to be something that’s dignified and adds value to their life and is a price point that they can afford.

Blane: And treating them like customers, keeps them coming back in a big way.

Lori Smith: About 80 percent of our customers that walk in the door have been in the door, maybe even yesterday. And we know a lot about them. It’s not just that we know their names, but we know them, we know what’s going on, and we miss them when they’re not coming by. If for some reason we don’t see you for a month or so, we may give you a call and find out what’s going on, or if you’re well, or what might be happening in your situation.

Blane: That focus on not just helping people, but their situations, has helped them form a relationship with CareerTech. Tech centers, especially Francis Tuttle, serve this impoverished area, giving needy students financial assistance to learn the skills they need to break the cycle of poverty. As part of the TOP and TANF programs, students are required to volunteer at places like the resale shop. And in the process, they learn valuable skills you can’t learn in a classroom.

Lori Smith: They are on the floor while they’re here. They’re learning, you know, how to interact with the customers. And again, we’re able to offer them love and affection and acceptance and, you know, maybe even just some support while they’re going through their schooling and the situation that they’re in.

Blane: Students who may not fit the traditional student mold, like Binita Turner. She’s a graduate of Francis Tuttle, and even though it’s no longer required of her, she still helps out at the ROC in any way she can.

Binita Turner: I tell them all the time if they ever need help that I can come and help. Anytime Mrs. Lori calls me, I’m there. I’ll be there.

Blane: Before her time at Francis Tuttle, Binita was a single mom, making ends meet by cleaning houses. Thanks to support from the ROC and others, she’s now in the hunt for a more substantial job as an administrative office assistant. She says the ROC is a great work environment, and she’s come a long way with them.

Binita Turner: You can be yourself in here. I just like coming to hang clothes, wherever she put me. I love it. I’m not that type of person to complain about a lot. Complaining don’t get you nowhere.

Blane: Lori Smith says making it work for these nontraditional students is what the ROC is all about.

Lori Smith: They’re trying so hard to increase their skills and to increase their pay, and all the things that they’re trying to do are worthy of acknowledgement. And so I feel like it’s a really nice reciprocal relationship and to see that it can all come together if they stick to it and give it their all.

Rob: Now, the work underway at the ROC was recognized at the state Capitol at Oklahoma CareerTech’s Making It Work Day. The group was honored for helping students improve their community one individual at a time. And if you would like to learn more about the ROC, we do have a link to their website under this story. Now, when we return, helping the smallest Oklahomans with a little flair.