By Traci Chapman
Yukon’s Trinity Baptist Church members fulfilled a long-held dream Sunday, as they held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its community outreach effort, Together We Center.
The center, located on the church’s 30-acre site in the 600 block of N. Cemetery Road, brings together an expansion of Trinity’s already in place free medical clinic, a new location for Yukon’s historic Manna Pantry, as well as Woven, a new resource aimed at offering professional clothes for those in need.
And that’s just the start, Together We Center Director Brian Grider said.
“We have five acres on each side of our main campus, and we’ve been thinking for some time about how we’d like to do something to help the greater community at large,” he said. “This was the first phase we determined would be the best use of our resources – and it’s certainly not something just for Yukon or Mustang, as we have members from all over the county and beyond – we want to be a source of support for everyone who needs us.”
That was something Trinity Lead Pastor Brian Mills emphasized in his remarks during a Sunday ribbon cutting.
“This is the start of the dream, not the end of it,” Mills said. “This truly has been a ‘together we’ project.”
The project really started with the inception of Trinity’s Faith Clinic, the first of its kind in Canadian County, Associate Pastor Scott Kinney said. As the clinic outgrew its initial facility, Mills and church elders envisioned something more – a dream embraced not only by those senior church officials, but also parishioners and the community at large.
The project’s first phase completion was remarkable for its timing, Mills said. The church raised an extra $1 million during the novel coronavirus pandemic; in addition to parishioners providing donations to Together We Center, the community provided both financial and other support – while local, county and state officials have stepped up to bring attention to the effort.
On Sunday, Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby, Board of County Commissioners Chairman Jack Stewart and Reps. Rhonda Baker and Brian Hill were on hand – many of whom also attended a January Together We Center groundbreaking. Grider, in addition to taking the center’s helm, would remain Trinity’s media and community outreach pastor and is Mustang’s mayor.
Trinity has operated its faith clinic for about five years, focusing on helping those who do not have health insurance, Grider said. The church plans to add on to the new facility as possible to include more services for those who need them, with ideas ranging from life skills and job interview guidance, no-cost automobile services, cooking and other training that could be of use and not easily found nearby.
“We want to encompass some of the things that are missing or not as easy to find – because there’s a huge need out there, although it might not seem readily obvious,” Grider said earlier this year. “This is part of our larger mission at Trinity and our goal to do as much community outreach as possible.”
While much of the interior of Together We Center remains unfinished, Manna Pantry will hold a “Ham Roll” Dec. 18 in its new 2,000-square-foot space located inside the facility, Grider said. The giveaway is open to clients, who each must have a ticket, and will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Other than that activity, Together We Center is expected to officially open just after the new year, Grider said.
“We are definitely ready to go – this is a labor of love that’s involved so many people who are working to make our community better for everyone,” he said last week.
According to state statistics, almost 8% of Canadian County residents lived below the poverty line and 13% were uninsured; 40% of area students qualified for free and reduced lunch, and unemployment hovered at about 7% – and that was before the novel coronavirus pandemic first hit Oklahoma in March 2020. Faith Clinic has averaged more than 690 patient visits annually during its five-year tenure, Grider said. The clinic not only serves Yukon residents, but also Mustang, El Reno and area Oklahoma City families who need its services; it is the only free medical clinic in Canadian County, Grider said.