Wednesday morning, the Lubrizol Corporation donated $3,000 to the Deer Park Opportunity Center, an entity tasked with helping unemployed or impoverished persons get the assistance they need to become viable contributing members of the community.
The Deer Park Opportunity Center is in the process of charting a course to meet the needs of individuals by becoming a unique resource that encourages individual economic sustainability and personal growth.
Many non-profit organizations are already involved in these activities. DPOC organizers feel by combining services and creating a seamless, single place to process citizens' needs, Deer Park can develop a model center that ensures a healthy, thriving community in the long-term.
"Here, we have the liberty to adjust and adapt the Center to the needs of this community," said Bennie Boles, Deer Park Rotary President. The Rotary Club is one of the community's driving forces behind the Center.
Although the Center is in its infancy, it has already come to the assistance of almost 150 Deer Park High School students. In December distributed almost $7,000 worth of Wal-Mart gift cards to about 144 needy DPHS students. Last month, the Center assisted a Deer Park family whose home was damaged in a fire. A DPHS student lost virtually all of his belongings in the blaze, which claimed the life of his new puppy.
"We were able to produce a Wal-Mart card for that family that evening. No red tape. No corporate directives. This is the community of Deer Park, by us and for us," Boles said.
Chris Hext, Lubrizol community affairs manager, said he believes the center can become the centerpiece of community assistance for years to come.
"This is the ground level of a community resource center. The main component is the number of children of living at or below the poverty level in the school district. That concern is also being addressed through the Center," he said.
Seven elementary schools are considered Title I, meaning they have a higher than average number of students with economic needs who qualify for free or reduced lunches.
In some cases, poverty leads to bad decision-making, inviting drugs and crime. That, in turn, lowers the quality of life in a community. By opening a community assistance center, those persons who are seeking to make a better life for themselves in Deer Park can obtain skills, assistance, food and other tools to do so. The Opportunity Center will be a one-stop resource center for those needing assistance, such as food, education, workforce training and more. The Center's organizers seek to combine the community's resources, ministries and assistance already provided by the schools, churches and business entities and place them under one roof.
Hext said Lubrizol is excited to assist with getting the Center off the ground. He acknowledged that it will be a slow process, but the Center will be a viable resource in the coming months as well as five, 10 and 20 years from now.
"That's what we are excited about. Think about the kind of level that this can rise to in this community. With the churches and the businesses and the individuals already in place, this can be something that Deer Park can really be proud of," he said.