No One Left Behind: Oasis, Holy Ground working to help families in need
Published 4:33 pm Saturday, December 2, 2023
For families in need, the one-two punch of cold weather and the holiday season can be crippling. Local shelters and non-profit organizations work each year to meet these increased needs, but rely on help and donations from the community to do so.
Executive Director of Oasis A Safe Haven for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence Kathy Manuel has seen a consistent annual increase in need during the holiday season. Many of the survivors Oasis provides for are escaping domestic violence situations.
She said these survivors and their families are often starting over, and have limited access to the resources needed to stay afloat. This combined with the additional financial strain of providing special meals and presents during the holiday season can cause hardship.
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“They want to be able to do that, and it’s just much more difficult when you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck and trying to survive.”
Cold weather compounds these struggles, as many families need to purchase new clothes and pay higher utility bills.
Every year, Oasis strives to mitigate these hardships by providing the families that they worked with that year with everything needed to have a festival Christmas — food, warm clothing and presents. They are supported by donations from various employee groups, companies and individuals to provide for these families.
They are currently accepting donations — and the opportunity to adopt a family at Christmas time — to help make these celebrations as jolly as possible. She said this is an opportunity for locals to get the “warm and fuzzy feeling” of being able to help someone who is actively trying to help themselves.
“They’re working to provide for their family and just needed that extra hand-up, and you’re the person that’s able to give that to them.”
Founder of Holy Ground Outreach Ministry “Sister” Donna Mackey said that altruistic acts “help us by helping others.”
“We show love by giving. We give of ourselves, we give of our time, we take time from our families for others.”
This is the mission of Holy Ground. The non-profit was created in response to an increase in homelessness seen in Southwest Louisiana after the hurricanes of 2020, she said. The non-profit launched in July of this year. They have already helped 134 people in need transform their lives and retain a job by working side-by-side with them with respect and dignity, she said.
The greatest need in the area is housing and clothing, she said. Since the start of the holiday season, she has also seen an increase in these needs.
“I’m seeing more of an influx of people on the streets with no covering.”
From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, Holy Ground will be hosting “No One Left Behind,” a community event that will benefit those who are homeless, seniors, disabled, veterans or low-income.
Hot food and backpacks with personal hygiene and non-perishables will be provided. In addition to free “food, fun and fellowship,” there will be community care providers available with resources and barber and beauticians on site to provide free haircuts at the event.
Holy Ground is only accepting monetary donations due to space restrictions. These donations can be made at Jeff Davis Bank under Holy Ground Our God Inspired Ministry, online at www.godinspiredministry.org or in-person at Holy Ground Headquarters, 3007 Enterprise Blvd.
This year, 20 families will receive assistance from Oasis. Manuel said that in most cases, they help 30 to 40 families a year; however, since the shelter was closed in 2020 following Hurricane Laura, there have been decreases in the number of survivors seeking help and the number of donations. This is because many locals don’t know that Oasis is still “up and running.”
“A lot of people don’t know that we are still providing things for people here locally, because they don’t think we’re open.”
They are rebuilding the shelter, and anticipate that it will be reopening in the coming months. Until then, Oasis is offering all services except for sheltering on site. They place people in permanent housing by helping with deposits and rent, provide them with hotels for emergency stays and pay for transportation to send survivors to other area shelters.
Services being provided include: support groups, individual advocacy, crisis intervention, legal services, sexual assault services. They are also always accepting donations of paper products, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, toiletries and women’s and children’s socks and underwear.
To learn more about volunteering or donating to Oasis, visit oasisasafehaven.org.