Pictured left to right: President Lion Duaine Janzen, Program Chairman Lion R.C. Morrow, Colleen Fowler, and Bob Fowler.
Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was an update of one of our state projects, The Meadows of Hope in Perkins, which was formerly called the Oklahoma Lions Boys' Ranch. When it initially began in 1952, it was called the IOA Ranch, which represented Individual Opportunity for Achievement. Most of the boys were wards of the court or had been in trouble, and the Ranch was an attempt to provide correction and direction in a young life. Over the years, and with societal and government changes, it now is basically foster home care, and for both males and females. Even though it is funded primarily by the Oklahoma Lions Clubs, it has oversight, direction, and some funding from the Department of Human Services.
Colleen and Bob Fowler (originally from Dewar) presented the program and had been house parents to four to six teenage boys for eight years, 2007-2015. The new foster care program started out in 2015 with the Fowlers and three kids in one house, so they have been foster parents for the past two years. They are on their 93rd teenage boy. Children in Oklahoma DHS custody are separated from their siblings 50% of the time. We have built 5 homes (not houses) on our campus in order to keep brothers and sisters together. Foster parents who are willing to serve sibling sets of 4 to 6 children live in these homes free of charge. We are building a community of hope!
DHS does provide an extra stipend of $250 per child per month but does not provide food, clothing, or any other necessities. The Meadows of Hope program has had so much success that foster families with other agencies have been contacting us a lot for information and advice.
The late Paul Milburn, a Lion from Shawnee, left an endowment of up to $250,000 per year for 30 years to his three favorite charities, with The Meadows of Hope first. If the Lions of Oklahoma can raise/donate the full $250,000, we get the full $250,000 matching funds. If we don't raise the full amount, we are matched only the amount we raise, and the two other charities can receive the balance of the un-matched funds So, if you have some funds not needed, what better way to enhance society in knowing that you have helped build a stronger world. It has been said that no man stands taller than those who stoop down to help a child (or someone in need). I guess Jesus said it best when He said (paraphrase) if you have done it to the least of these, then you have done it to Me. How could one not be blessed when you consider that ALL kids are our future? The success stories that we hear from the Oklahoma Lions Meadows of Hope project make us all proud to be a Lion. "WE SERVE".
(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig, with excerpts from the Oklahoma Lions Meadows of Hope pamphlet).