by Dianne Riddles
The C. Carter Crane Emergency Homeless Shelter (CCCEHS) is not just a place to sleep for homeless individuals.
According to Program Director Betty Caldwell, the CCCEHS was established in Lawton on December 15, 1985.
The shelter is a program that operates under Great Plains Improvement Foundation, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit agency. Great Plains is a member agency of Lawton/Fort Sill United Way.
The United Way, Federal grants, the City of Lawton, local contributions and donations fund the budget.
According to Caldwell, the CCCEHS mission statement is to assist and empower the homeless to obtain their goals of employment, permanent housing and becoming members of the community.
CCCEHS is a program that assists and helps the client through supportive services necessary to place a client back into the main stream of life.
Caldwell said that the CCCEHS program is the only homeless program which allows its clients to stay for a period of six weeks, during which time the shelter provides a home environment and strong supportive case management services to help each individual find employment and affordable housing.
According to Caldwell, the main criterion for being a resident of the shelter and a member of the program is that the individual be homeless. If the individual is under 18, they must have a parent residing with them.
The CCCEHS provides additional emergency assistance, such as referrals for counseling, food, medical and clothes; local bus tickets; job and housing assistance; referrals for Veteran’s benefits, Department of Human Services and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance; and computers in the shelter for client use.
As with most charitable organizations, Caldwell said the current state of the economy has had a negative impact on funding and donations; however, due to the small size of the program and protection of the confidentiality of the clients in the program, donations of goods are preferred over donations of time.
According to Caldwell, the shelter always welcomes donations such as clothing, as long as the clothes are acceptable attire for employment interviews, clean and in good repair.
“If someone wants to make donations, they are very much appreciated,” Caldwell said. “If they have a special recipe, a cake or something that they would like to bake in a disposable pan and bring it – the clients love those types of things.”
She also suggested other donation items such as Lawton Area Transit System (LATS) passes — for transportation to and from job interviews and work; paper items such as toilet tissue, paper towels and plates; laundry items and toiletries. She said that items for children such as baskets for the upcoming Easter holiday and gifts during the Christmas season are welcome donations.
According to Caldwell, shelter residents occasionally are able to earn money by working to help someone in the community for a day or two.
“With summer coming up, someone with a mower might call and need someone to come and mow,” she said. “We’ve had people call and say they were moving and needed someone who could help lift; someone here was able to do that and earn a little money.”
Caldwell said that after working with the homeless in Lawton for 27 years, her point of view is that no one should judged anyone until they have walked in a homeless person’s shoes.
“Place a light in your heart for the homeless. Why? Because you may be homeless one day,” she said. “You are only one pay check away from homelessness.”
Anyone wanting to donate money to C. Carter Crane Shelter for the Homeless may send it to P.O. Box 926, Lawton, Okla., 73502.
Anyone seeking assistance from the shelter may call 580.248.0936 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For more information, one may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.