By Conrad Dudderar
Robyn Watanabe is ready to serve Yukon’s homeless.
The Yukon woman and her husband Clyde run Feed His Sheep, a nonprofit ministry that helps people living on Oklahoma City streets.
With Watanabe’s experience, Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby asked the Westbury resident to become part of the new Yukon Homeless Alliance Task Force.
Watanabe is now available to help Yukon’s homeless from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first and third Mondays each month at the Mabel C. Fry Public Library, 1200 Lakeshore.
“Any homeless that come in, I help them with whatever they need at no charge,” she said. “If they need an ID, birth certificate or any documentation, I can get it for free for them.
“I can help them with food stamps. I can help them with Social Security. This is what I enjoy doing.”
People living on the streets frequently lose – or have stolen – the identification documents needed to get a phone, job and government benefits.
“The bottom line is, they can’t do anything without an ID,” Watanabe said. “There’s an agency downtown that can get documentation through referral, and I’m that referral agent.
“I helped one gentleman who is homeless get his ID in a week.”
She has access to other resources to help homeless people cope with alcohol and drug addictions and obtain food.
Watanabe recently started offering her services to the Yukon area’s homeless inside a meeting room at the Yukon library.
“I’ve only met two homeless people in this area so far, and I know there’s more,” she said. “I just want to get the word out that I am here to help.”
This is Feed His Sheep’s 14th year nourishing the homeless.
“We serve hot meals for the homeless every Sunday morning in downtown Oklahoma City,” Watanabe said. “We don’t have any church affiliation, so it’s just us and donations. And God has brought us just the best volunteers. People cook for us every week. It’s just been a neat experience.”
Watanabe decided to start a food ministry for the homeless after she and her daughter attended a women’s conference in 2009.
“We both just felt called to do something,” she related. “We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know where homeless people were.
“My grandkids were 4, 6 and 7 at the time. They were the ones who motivated us to make the people sandwiches. We had 14 little lunch bags and headed downtown. We didn’t know where to do. We just found a few and started from that.”
Feed His Sheep volunteers serve the hot food at a parking lot in downtown Oklahoma City starting at 8 a.m. every Sunday– no matter the weather.
“They know we’re coming,” Watanabe pointed out. “(Last Sunday), there was probably 50 people there waiting for us.
“We serve hot meals to almost 200 every week now. Different churches have come alongside us to help us cook the meals each week.”
In recent years, Watanabe has felt the need to do more with the increase in Oklahoma City’s homeless population.
As a member of the Yukon Mayor’s Homeless Alliance Task Force, Watanabe said she knows there are homeless living in this community. And she is aware of homeless encampments here.
“I don’t go there; that’s their space,” he said. “I need to respect that that’s their home. I don’t want to invade their privacy.
“The issue we have here is the housing; the lack of housing and/or shelters. The two folks I’ve helped, they want to stay in Yukon, but they want to get housed before the weather turns bad.”
Yukon does not have a homeless shelter and apartments here do not offer Section 8 housing or other rental assistance, Watanabe noted.
Watanabe encourages homeless people who need help to come see her on the first and third Mondays at Yukon’s library.
“Things can happen through no fault of their own,” she said. “It could be a medical issue or marriage break-up that causes them to lose their home or job. Life happens, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”