Passing it Forward with the Pershing Center

Saturday’s Holiday Assist was more like a hockey assist for the Thunder and Chesapeake Energy. Instead of asking to fill their own needs this holiday season, the residents of the Pershing Center who are transitioning out of homelessness themselves, wanted to help those who are in less fortunate situations than they are.

With the help of Thunder players Darius Bazley and Deonte Burton, the residents packed 1,000 cold weather kits complete with beanies, gloves, socks and hygiene sets to be distributed to the unsheltered community of Oklahoma City.

“That’s what it’s all about. It’s unbelievable really when you think about it,” said Gordon Pennoyer, Director of Communications and Investor Relations at Chesapeake Energy. “This is about giving back and encouraging people to give back. Here’s a group that we’re coming to help and the first thing they say to us is ‘don’t worry about us, let’s go help people who aren’t as fortunate as us to be in this facility’. City Care is that kind of program, that type of organization that encourages that and it’s really moving to see that.” Patricia Wilson, a former Pershing Center resident stood at the front of a long assembly line stuffing blue drawstring bags with information sheets with information on necessary resources that those in the homeless community can take advantage of. As a former resident, she knows all too well what those in the unsheltered community need and was eager to help in any way that she could.

“Coming from a life of addiction myself and being homeless at one point, I just want to help people and meet them exactly where they’re at and help them in times of crisis,” said Wilson. “I know what it’s like to be in their shoes and being in a position where I’m stable now, the only thing I know that’s best to do for those people is to help provide and put my hand in on any situation that gives back. That’s why I’m here today.”

Offering their extra hands in the assembly line, Burton was stationed at the peanut butter crackers while Bazley added the hygiene kits into each blue drawstring bag. The duo’s efficient helping hands helped to move the process along so that all 1,000 kits were filled in under an hour.

“It can be easy around this time of the year to only think about yourself or the things that you want for yourself,” said Bazley. “For them to pay it back to them I know it’s going to mean the world to the people who receive it, but I know it feels good for the people who actually did it for them and I thought it was a great gesture.”

Although the residents of the Pershing Center didn’t ask for anything for themselves this holiday season, the Thunder and Chesapeake surprised the group with a newly-renovated theater room. Up to this point, the residents at Pershing Center weren’t able to use their theater room due to a broken projector. On Sunday, the new room was unveiled. An 85” television sat at the front of the refurbished room with a fresh coat of paint covering three walls while the fourth wall donned a brand-new Thunder mural. The residents immediately made plans to watch a Christmas movie later that night.

“It just goes to show when you do good deeds for the right reasons and it’s in your heart because you want to do it, good things happen to you and that’s exactly what happened,” Bazley said.