Category: News

Happenings in the lives of the young men at Westview will appear here.

Westside youth group

Sweet sixteen for Westside at WBH

For sixteen years, Brett McKnight and the youth group from the Westside Church of Christ in Norman have been coming to Westview to get to know our young men and to make our campus a better place. Their visits are always one of the sweet spots of our summer.

Perhaps that’s why it’s appropriate that their work on our campus this summer was on our north campus at Sweetwater House. Sweetwater is a great old house, but it was in serious need of a new coat of paint on its exterior. Our campus manager, Terry Owens, had set aside this job for the Westside group because they’ve earned our confidence in them over the years. We know that they can handle tough jobs and do them well.

Brett and Jennifer McKnight brought nine hard-working young people with them this year. They worked hard in the morning (before the heat became its most brutal), had lunch, rested a bit, and then enjoyed time with our young men on campus and at the Wellington Activity Center.

In the end of it all, they enjoyed the sweetness of a job well-done and those of us at Westview appreciated the sacrifice and hard work given by each of our friends from Norman. We are grateful.

Westside painting Sweetwater

NMCP Program

Terry Owens completes nonprofit management program

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits has announced that 28 students have been awarded certificates for Nonprofit Management through the Nonprofit Management Certification Program. Among the graduates was Terry Owens, Campus Manager at Westview Boys’ Home. As a participant in this six-month professional development program, Terry accumulated 36 hours of Continuing Professional Education in the following content areas: Leadership Essentials, Managing Support for the Organization, Managing Budgets and Leading Meetings, Human Resources, Conflict Management and Diversity, and Coaching as Supervision.

Marnie Taylor, President and CEO of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, says about the program, “Managing a nonprofit is a very challenging job and the Center is so pleased to be able to offer this comprehensive program that touches on the essential skills that are required. A nonprofit leader is often expected to be ‘a jack of all trades,’ which is very challenging, and this program equips leaders to meet that expectation. Nonprofits are businesses and nonprofit professionals need to have good, sound business management skills in order to move their organizations forward. Our Nonprofit Management Certification Program allows even experienced nonprofit professionals the opportunity to learn and practice those skills.”

Dr. Ron Bruner, Executive Director of Westview, noted that “Terry Owens is a vital part of Westview’s dynamic leadership team. His willingness to continue to learn and grow contributes to our team’s success. The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits continues to provide affordable training opportunities of the highest quality for nonprofits and nonprofit executives that seek to successfully engage their mission.”

The Nonprofit Management Certification program is a six-month, cohort model professional development program, organized around building practical knowledge for managing the everyday life of a nonprofit. Content in six core areas is designed to advance participants’ careers and build effectiveness in their current positions.

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits is a nonprofit organization equipping and strengthening the Oklahoma nonprofit sector through training, consulting, advocacy, membership, networking and recognition. The Center’s Mission is “building better communities through effective nonprofits.”

Some of our boys with the crew from Oakdale

When we start working together

For years, the Church of Christ at Oakdale has been a vital part of the work at Westview Boys’ Home. Recently a team of members and leaders came to work side by side with our young men and staff on our farm. We were glad to show them the hospitality for which Westview has become known.

It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place . . . it’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood.

– David Hume

garden toolsLed by a friend of Westview, Richard Yahola; the pulpit minister, Darrel Sears; the youth minister, John T. Langley; and one of the church’s shepherds, Larry Zeller, our friends from Oakdale worked hard in our vegetable garden. With about two acres in our garden, clearing out weeds and the remnants of the previous crop proved to be a hefty job. The crew from Oakdale got our young men off to a good start.

As this garden matures, it will provide fresh vegetables–squash, cucumbers, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, corn, and okra–to the young men that live at Westview. We hope to have some extra produce for the market as well.

Besides sharing time in the field, our friends shared time at the table and in worship. We had some good meals together; we shared wonderful devotional time together as well. We have much to be thankful for.

We’ve found that working together builds relationships that are stronger and more enduring. Our hope is that our friends at Oakdale will continue to see themselves as important partners in our vital work with at-risk youth.

Department of Education, Oklahoma City, OK

Westview invited to advisory team

We best serve young people who experience neglect, delinquency, or at-risk factors in their lives when agencies, ministries, and government coordinate their work. Westview recently joined an advisory team to help with that daunting task.

Dr. Gloria Bayouth, executive director of Oklahoma’s Office of Federal Programs, recently assembled a team of professionals interested in helping youth experiencing challenges in their lives. This group first convened at the state capitol in Oklahoma City on April 26, 2017. Called the NDAAT (Neglected, Delinquent, and At-risk Advisory Team), this group will work together to make certain that resources available from the federal government are usefully made available to empower the success of youth experiencing neglect, delinquency, and at-risk conditions.

Terry Owens, the campus manager at Westview Boys’ Home, joins this team as an invited member. He will serve with educators, and representatives from state agencies (Department of Education, Department of Human Services, Department of Rehabilitation Services, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and the Oklahoma Family Counseling Services) to move forward with this task.

Outside organizations and institutions continue to recognize Westview as an agency providing quality care and a voice for at-risk youth in Oklahoma and Texas.

Young men in the rafters

Raising the roof

If “raising the roof” means “showing great enthusiasm”, then we’re raising the roof on our north campus. We have a number of projects underway that will make life better at Westview, and we’re excited about that!

We’ve set aside several acres on our north campus for our young men (and their guests) for camping and recreation. Now we’re adding several new features to this space: a pavilion (for cook-outs and shelter), a ropes course, a disc golf course, and restroom facilities.

Terry teaching Kanyon how to use a power drill
Terry teaching Kanyon how to use a power drill

We’re starting with the pavilion and restrooms because they give us the working space to work on the other projects. Our young men have been active in these projects in preparing the land, unloading materials, and raising the roofs of these new facilities. This means that these project have been doubly helpful to our purposes; not only will they provide enjoyment for our young men in the years to come, the very process of building them provides learning and work experiences for them.

We have a grant that provides the funds for these projects, and our campus manager, Terry Owens, is leading the Westview team (and young men!) through the construction process. He and the caregivers are also giving hands-on instruction in construction work to our young men as the work moves along. The concrete work took two days and, because our young men worked hard, we were able to put up all of the beams in one day. The roof installation will come soon.

As we make progress through the other projects, we’ll post photos to show our progress. Thank you for your interest in our life here at Westview Boys’ Home.

photos of the construction of the pavilion

Burying drip irrigation lines

Modeling & teaching stewardship

Westview Boys’ Home is working with Jared Dill to add subsurface drip irrigation to another seventy acres of its farmland on our Molloy Farm. Westview already irrigates one hundred acres of its farmland using this newer technology; we grow cotton on that land. The income from this farm will pay back the cost of these improvements within two years and then help continue covering part of the expenses involved with serving at-risk youth at Westview.

Manifold lines for irrigation system
Manifold line for the drip system

One of the most important lessons that we strive to share with young men at Westview is the need to be careful stewards of the land, the water, the air, and all living things that share this space with us. Our approach to farming is one way we model good stewardship to our young men.

For decades we have irrigated our cotton land with a recharging aquifer–a subsurface pool of water. For most of those years, we used the technology available to us: flood irrigation. When flood irrigation is used, a certain amount of water is lost each time to runoff and evaporation. In years of extended drought like those experienced here in Harmon County in the early part of this decade, the water level dips dangerously low and the salt content in the water grows too high.

Filtration system for irrigation water
The water filtration unit for the drip system.

Four years ago Westview Boys’ Home worked with our farmer, Dill Farms, to install a subsurface irrigation system on our first one hundred acres using this technology. Not only has our aquifer returned to normal levels, but our fields have also produced their highest yields in memorable history. Those yields have empowered us to pay back our investment in the new system and help care for our boys, too.

Additionally, we are better able to limit and control the use of fertilizers using this approach to irrigation because we can put them in below the surface.

Westview has 1,500 acres in Harmon County; we use this land for living, farming, ranching, hunting, and our summer work program. We are thankful for the federal grants and the help of Dill Farms that empower us to continually improve our care of the land and water entrusted to us.