More Space, More Kids, More Staff! Meet Brandis and Tim

May 20, 2018

web800-2018-6-4-brandis-levWe’d like to welcome 2 wonderful new teammates to our Oasis staff!

Meet Brandis Leverette

First, Brandis is our new Ministry Director and will be overseeing our youth department as well as adult ministries. He is a long-time Memphian even though he was born in Flint, Michigan. He has a wonderful wife and 2 daughters, and has spent more than a decade in urban ministry in Memphis. Among other things, he has served as a children’s minister, youth pastor, urban educator, discipleship coordinator, on a board of directors, and a frequent volunteer. He is committed to our city and brings great experience and a servant heart to the team.

web800-2018-5-14-timothy-wiMeet Timothy Williams

Second, Tim Williams is our new High School Boys’ Developer. Tim grew up in Chicago, Illinois and is a huge Cubs fan. He has a beautiful family of 3 and 1 on the way. Tim is passionate about the Lord and kids. He has served as a children’s ministry leader, a youth sports coach/trainer/mentor and a Bible camp counselor. Tim brings great enthusiasm to the team. He is able to relate to our youth in a relevant way that God uses to create real life change.

We are grateful to add Brandis and Tim to our team and are excited to watch God move in the areas of youth and adult ministry through their guidance and leadership! Welcome guys!

What Does Summer Look Like With the New OEC?

May 18, 2018

read-to-succeed-pool-party-In the past we have connected our youth with external opportunities such as various summer Bible camps through For the Kingdom, Kids Across America, Hope Church’s The Great Escape, etc. We have also sought to introduce business mentors to our teens by providing professional guidance with resume building, job internships, and connecting them with business mentors and local companies who were willing to hire interns, in addition to challenging them by growing spiritually and by serving and giving back to the city they grew up in.

Now that we have the OEC (Oasis Enrichment Center … thanks to the City of Memphis donating use of the back end of the Bickford Community Center), we have the thrilling opportunity for the first time in 17 years to work with our youth on a daily basis weaving in these skills plus so much more! We couldn’t be more excited!

So, here’s a glimpse of what the Summer of 2018 will look like:

We are more than thrilled to offer our first Summer Leadership Institute June 11, 2018-August 2, Monday-Thursday from 9am-4pm!

UYI-camp-ambassadors-2012-web 100x116We have hand-selected 12 boys and 12 girls from each milestone age group (High school, Jr. High, and Elementary) – that’s 72 students total – to spend the summer growing in leadership to be our front runners this upcoming school year and to assist us in spearheading our goal of empowering this promising community.

Through the Summer Leadership Institute, we will equip our apprentices with the tools and support needed to advance in academics, leadership and teamwork, and life skills, through Christian mentorship, tutoring, life skills and leadership training, team building exercises, and peer to peer networking.

With a growing staff of excited youth employees with hearts ready to serve, we cannot contain our enthusiasm to invest in these awesome kids, in North Memphis, and in the City of Memphis as a whole!

If you are interested in supporting this summer youth ministry, there are three ways to help out:
- Pray for us! Pray not only for our growing youth program, but our ministry as a whole!
- Volunteer with us! Contact Ellyn if you love kids and would like to be a mentor!
- Donate snacks! Summer means kids don’t receive meals through their schools so any donated snacks are greatly appreciated!
- Donate financially! If you’d like to make a one-time donation or a recurring financial gift, we’d sure appreciate your donation!

Stay up-to-date on what our youth are up to this summer by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and Instagram, and checking our website for detailed information.

146 Families Save By Filing Their Taxes At Our VITA Site

April 02, 2018

IMG_3165We had an another amazing year through our free tax assistance program Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)! Initially, we were concerned that we may have to close the site because our wonderful coordinator from last year had to leave to help take care of her aging parents but God had other plans! Ms. Ellen Williams, who originally grew up in North Memphis, spent much of her career with the IRS and wanted to give back in a meaningful way to her community and the Lord, so stepped in and oversaw the program. What a blessing!

On top of that, we had a very productive year with our faithful volunteers. This year they helped 146 families file returns and get refunds totaling $258,752. This added to the previous 11 years brings a total of 1,963 returns totaling $3,531,903 in refunds for the 2017 tax year. Then if consider the average cost of a $200 filing fee per return over that time (that we didn’t charge since our services are free), this gives an additional savings of $392,600.

So, approximately $3,924,503 has been put back into North Memphis family’s pockets through this practical 12-year ministry!

Praise the Lord for His faithfulness over the years and for providing such a blessing through our volunteers and through Ms. Ellen…we couldn’t do it without them!

Free Tax Filing! Our Goal is to Save North Memphis Money!

March 05, 2018

2015 VITA (3)LET US FILE YOUR TAXES FOR FREE!

It’s our 12th year and so far we’ve saved North Memphis over $3.6 million!

To most of us, the phrase ‘Tax Season’ elicits feelings of dread, overwhelming piles of receipts and needed paperwork, and either forking out hard-earned cash to hire a professional or summoning the will to attempt filing on your own.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

At Oasis of Hope’s VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) center, our accountants are counting down until opening day begins and they will gladly dig into your numbers, help you find all the earned income credits you are due, present your needed information to the IRS, and send you on your way with no stress, a smile on your face, and tell you they are willing to do all of this at absolutely NO charge!

WHY? Because we care.

Because we enjoy investing in more than just money, and want to invest in people too. We realize that by providing trusted and IRS trained volunteers, we are building relationships with North Memphis and offering them an honest, reliable way of filing returns at no cost with one of our main goals being to find each person all the earned income tax credits they are eligible for, as well as, saving them all the filing fees other companies charge. This saves many low-income families hundreds of dollars every year and puts these precious dollars back into their households and our community. The impact is not only individual, but positively effects the local economy as a whole.

vita-free-tax-filing-100x11“We have many repeat customers who come to us every year,” says former VITA Project Coordinator, Doug Edwards. ”One lady who stood out to me a couple of years ago had just lost her mother after also losing her father the previous year. In addition, she was dealing with her own health issues and had recently lost her job, so she was very much in a world of grief and needed someone to talk with and listen. I spent about an hour with her, not only reviewing her taxes but also talking about her situation and helping to boost her spirits. She called me after she got her refund and thanked me for the help and for being supportive and a good listener. Ours is not just a ministry of help, but a ministry of love. It is so much more than just doing their taxes. We get to know these folks on a personal level and they become our friends. They trust us, they appreciate the help, but they especially appreciate the personal attention we provide.”

This year serves as the beginning of our 12th tax season, and to-date our volunteers have filed 1,817 returns saving North Memphis residents $3,636,551 in tax credits and filing fees!

QUALIFICATIONS: Free tax help is provided to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance.

TO FILE: If you would like to file, simply stop by the Bickford Community Center (233 Henry Ave) any Saturday from 10:00am-1:00pm in February and March. No appointment needed.

WHAT TO BRING:
Proof of identification
Documents showing real estate taxes paid last year
Social Security Cards (or individual Taxpayer ID Number, ITIN) for you, your spouse, and dependents
Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
Interest and dividend statements from banks (Form 1099)
A copy of last year’s Federal and State returns if possible
Bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit
Total paid for day care provider and the day care provider’s tax ID number
Information for other income
Information for deductions/credits

TO VOLUNTEER: If this kind of practical, hands-on ministry sounds exciting to you, we’d love to add you to our team! This is an IRS sanctioned site so you will need to go through a simple on-line training and certification pre-work (not hard). We will train and prepare you for electronic filing. For more information on volunteering, contact Terry.

If you’d like more information about our programs, please check out our website, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Volunteers Needed For Our NEW After-School Program!

January 03, 2018

1fav elementary r2s (2)Now that we have received the blessing from the City of Memphis to move into the back-end of the Bickford Community Center, we have expanded our youth programming to open our doors Mondays-Thursdays after-school from 2-6pm! That’s a lot of time to fill for neighborhood students in grades 2-12! We will still operate all of our familiar youth programs, plus are adding in several new ones!

Due to this, we will need a lot more volunteers to assist us! Following is a list of the volunteer job descriptions we are seeking:


Elementary Programs (1st-5th grades)
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Read2Succeed Reading Coach: Tutor a student in reading; Mon or Wed, 4:30-6pm
-Read2Succeed Character Education Coach: Implement character education lessons; Mon or Wed, 4:30-6pm
-After-School Counselor: Assist the elementary staff on a general basis; Mon-Thurs, anytime between 2-6pm (choose 1 to 4 days)
-Warrior Princess Mentor: Females needed to serve as personal mentors; Sat (1st & 3rd), 10am-12pm
-Lion’s Cage Mentor: Males needed to serve as personal mentors; Sat (1st & 3rd), 10am-12pm

Middle School Programs (6th-8th grades)1fav mentoring (4)
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After-School Counselor: Assist the staff in tutoring, planning, and general needs; Mon-Thurs, anytime between 2-6pm (choose 1 to 4 days)
-Pathfinders Mentor: Mentor 2-3 students & teach life skill lessons; Sat (1st & 3rd), 10am-12pm

High School Programs (9th-12th grades)
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After-School Counselor: Assist the staff in tutoring, career planning, and general needs; Mon-Thurs, anytime between 2-6pm (choose 1 to 4 days)
-LifeBuilders Mentor: Student mentoring and preparation for life beyond high school; Thurs, 6-7:30pm

General After-School
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Recreation & Sports Coach: Organize sports & recreational games in the gym; Mon-Thurs, anytime between 2-6pm (choose 1 to 4 days)
-Food & Snacks Team: Help pick up and organize, and pass out food and man the concession stand; Mon-Thurs, 2-6pm (choose 1 to 4 days)
-Floater: Help process the intake, transitions, security, and exit of students; Mon-Thurs, anytime between 2-6pm (choose 1 to 4 days)
-Van Driver: Pick up students from various area schools and drop off in provided vans; Days/Times TBA

Wednesday Night Club
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Small Group Facilitator: Teach Bible lessons and life discussions with small groups; Wed, 6-8pm
-Floater: Help process the intake, transitions, security, and exit of students; Wed, 6-8pm

If you are not able to volunteer your time, we also need prayer and financial support. Donate online to give a one-time gift, or even better, enroll in a monthly donation to support this expanding youth ministry

If you are interested in any of the above volunteer possibilities, we’d love to plug you in and have you join our team! For more information, please feel free to contact us!

This.Is.Happening! After-School Program Begins at OEC!

January 02, 2018

greenhouse-the-cut-oec-collOasis of Hope began in 2001 by purchasing a small home in North Memphis across from an elementary school to serve as our inaugural ministry hub. We knocked out a few walls, spread some paint around, added some couches and a desk, and named it ‘The Green House.’ We were thrilled to start somewhere, kids started hanging out, and we began developing reading programs, Bible studies, training sessions, after-school programs and more.

A few years later, we purchased a second home down the street and did our best to reconfigure it as well to expand our spacing needs as our staffing and youth program grew. We named this building ‘The Cut’ because it sits at a crossroads in the neighborhood where people often ‘cut through.’ Again we painted, rearranged, and soon we were transforming our staff offices by day into youth programming rooms after school. It didn’t take long for us to begin praying for a more adequate space that was much larger where we could all operate together as a team, and dream about inviting more kids to participate in our programs, but until then, we were maxed and unable to invite additional neighborhood youth to join us despite bursting at the seams.

Then, a couple years ago we were unexpectedly approached by the City of Memphis about a possible partnership to merge our programs and perhaps be granted permission to operate out of the unused back-third of the Bickford Community Center. We were thrilled about this possibility! We had already been operating the daily Oasis Seniors’ Program (a thriving program for senior citizens) out of the Community Center and had shared the space on numerous occasions for special events thanks to the City’s graciousness.

A plan began to evolve. Prayers began to ask for big dreams. Time went by, and the red tape was finally removed allowing this new, amazing, huge space, to become the new home of the Oasis Enrichment Center (the OEC)! Since we were given the green light, we have once again been painting, building, reconstructing, and outfitting our exciting youth space, and we are launching a new After-School Program and opening the doors officially on Wednesday, January 24th!

To see this finally happen is beyond words!

Thank you to those who have joined us in praying for this, supported this dream financially, or have volunteered with our programs and squeezed into our tiny spaces over these past 17 years! We could NOT have done this without your faithful support!

We are now thrilled to transfer our youth staff and programs over to the OEC, with access to a gym, staff offices, and plenty of room for elementary through high school kids to be kids! Our plan is to adjust to the new groove of this blessing, open our doors for an After-School Program Monday-Thursday to youth in grades 2-12 from 2:00-6:00pm for homework help, computer use, free play, youth groups, Bible studies, mentoring and more immediately with hopes to grow and expand as we spread the word throughout the community and our local inner city schools that we now have room for more!

As we invest in our local youth several hours each day after school, we will be focusing on four core areas of student health:

1-Academic Health through tutoring, college prep, intentional career path exposure, and academic progress motivations;
2-Social Health through positive peer interaction, fun fellowship, and diversity training;
3-Physical Health through sports recreation and nutritional education; and
4-Emotional Health through intentional mentorship, counseling, and exposure to universal love.

We will also continue to provide and enlarge our familiar youth programs such as Read2Succeed, Warrior Princesses/Lion’s Cage, Pathfinders, Empowerment, Club, and LifeBuilders.

As we transition and expand, we are going to need a LOT more volunteers …

WILL YOU JOIN OUR TEAM?

We are looking for help during the following:

-Read2Succed, Mondays & Wednesdays from 4:30-6pm, needs 2 volunteers
-Club (for middle & high school students), Wednesdays from 6-8pm, needs 6 volunteers
-Pathfinders (for middle schoolers), 1st & 3rd Saturdays from 10a-12p, needs 2-4 volunteers
-LifeBuilders (for high schoolers), Thursdays from 6:00-7pm, needs 2-4 volunteers
-Lion’s Cage (for elementary boys), 1st & 3rd Saturdays from 10a-12p, needs 4 volunteers
-Free Play, Mondays-Thursdays from 2-6p, needs 4 gym volunteers and 4 OEC volunteers (can vol for 2 hr segments)
-Empowerment Sessions, Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays from 5-6p, needs volunteer speakers
-Concession Stand Sales, Mondays-Thursdays from 2-4p, needs 2-4 volunteers

For adults, we are also offering a new counseling service (financial, marital, emotional, buying a home, addiction assistance, job placement, food help, and more) in addition to our long-standing programs such as providing affordable housing, affordable used home furnishings at Oasis Appliance, free tax prep service (VITA), a free daily senior citizen program, and so much more! If you are neighborhood resident, we’d love to assist you! If you are a professional and would like to volunteer your expertise, we would love to have you partner with us!

We also want to encourage everyone in North Memphis to attend our partnering Hope City Church with Pastor Colley Cooper on Sundays at noon! We meet at Memphis Scholars Caldwell Guthrie School and are growing together as a community that is experiencing ‘A New Way To Do Church!’

If you are excited about loving on North Memphis too but aren’t able to commit your time, we are always in need of financial donations too! We are a small ministry with a very big heart and appreciate every donated dollar so much! You can donate online, or mail donations to Oasis of Hope, 8500 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova TN, 38018.

God has his hands on North Memphis! Come and see what the excitement is about and invest in a youth’s life!

For more information or to get involved with this ministry, please contact us for details.

*NEW* Registration Opens for Spring Break Camp at the OEC

January 02, 2018

web695x900-Spring-Break-CamWe are so excited to announce that we now have space to offer a Spring Break Camp for your kids when schools close at the Oasis Enrichment Center (OEC)!

Details are:

Registration Opens: Monday, February 26th (limited spots available). Register at BCC between 4-6pm Mondays-Thursdays

Where: The OEC at the Bickford Community Center (BCC)

Who: Elementary and Middle School Students

When: March 12th-15th, from 8am-5pm

Fees: $35/per child (breakfast and lunch will be provided)

Contact: For more information, please contact neko.sharkey@oasis-of-hope.com