The George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) awarded five grants to local nonprofits Wednesday that focus on children and family well being.
The award ceremony was held on the Oklahoma Baptist University campus and was also a luncheon to honor Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele, who is serving his last term due to term limits.
The Kaiser Family Foundation awarded $40,000 in grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 to various agencies.
"We are celebrating a lot of things today, we're celebrating … the extraordinary leadership of speaker Kris Steele," George Kaiser Family Foundation Executive Director Ken Levit said. "And also to recognize and support a handful of extraordinary organizations in the greater-Shawnee area that make a big difference in people's lives."
Local organizations that received grants from the GKFF are the Gateway to Prevention and recovery, Project Safe, Youth and Family resource Center, Shawnee Boys and Girls Club and the Shawnee YMCA.
Representatives from the agencies were on hand, and spoke to the crowd during the luncheon.
"Last year Project Safe assisted 1,452 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Providing 16,425 meals to 154 shelter residents," executive director Mechelle King said. "This much needed contribution will ensure that Project Safe is able to provide 16,425 meals in 2013."
Project Safe received a $10,000 grant from GKFF. Five thousand dollar grants were awarded to the Boys and Girls Club and the Shawnee YMCA.
The Youth And Family Resource Center was awarded a $10,000 grant.
"We provide emergency care for kids, for whatever reason, can't be at home," executive director Sharon Trammell said. "We had 1,500 kids that we impacted last year, we have a goal to do 2,400 this year. I think with the money that we are going to receive … we are going to make it."
State representatives, colleges and family members of Steele were present to honor his service to the state and work as the speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Representatives Danny Morgan, Ann Coody, Herold Right from Weatherford and David Nelson, Scott Inman, and Pat Ownby were present for the luncheon.
All representatives spoke to the crowd about Steele's unwavering ethos and pathos for all Oklahomans, and his ability to command respect from his peers, regardless of what side of the isle they were on.
"The attitude … and fresh air that [Kris Steele] brought to that office is one of the most admirable things I've seen anyone do," Rep. Morgan said. "[Kris Steele] stepped forward and helped steer that … into a consciousness that everyone could have pride in again."
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Steele paused often to collect his breath and fight back tears during his address to the crowd. During his speech, he paid a heartfelt homage to the local nonprofits, his family and community members that have had a profound impact on him and his career, he said.
"When I think about the community providers that are honored today and the work that they do in helping those who face real life challenges," Steele said. "I just want you to know that you are making a difference, and I thank you for that."
Steele was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives on in November 2000, and his term will end this year because of term limits.