On behalf of the board, staff and clients — and especially youth in our shelter — of Youth & Family Services of El Reno, I want to thank Oklahomans. You help us continue to help those who need us most. We're accustomed to dealing with the unexpected because family tragedy doesn't punch a time clock. But the May 31 tornado was something else.
We were prepared. That afternoon, our staff conducted a drill and gathered flashlights. When warned to seek shelter, they gathered the kids and rode out the storm in our safe room. The nine children, ages 8 to 17, were scared. When we lost power, our staff kept them calm by singing and playing dominoes by flashlight. Our facilities sustained serious damage. Executive Director Dee Blose and staff reached out to sister shelters and by 2 a.m., five offered help. Crossroads Youth and Family Services of Norman and Payne County Youth Services of Stillwater greeted these kids with open arms and warm beds. We thank them.
Our emergency shelter is back to capacity, but the damage to the main building was severe. Some staff members work from on-site trailers, others from their homes. Still, we continue to provide the same level of care. We appreciate those who've provided hugs, cleaned up debris, helped restock food, sent diapers, hand wipes, trash bags and more. Your cash and in-kind donations allow us to deal with evolving needs. We depend on your support.
Nathan Richter, El Reno
Richter is board president of Youth & Family Services of El Reno.