Community Partnership Builds The Share Center Of Norman To Provide Resources For Those In Need

Ideal Homes Check Presentation

May 20, 2022

Food & Shelter, Inc. is announcing a brand-new community center in Norman to provide those in need with food, services, supplies, and more as an extension of their current space. The Share Center will centralize many food pantries across Norman into one larger space that will provide more than the traditional offerings of a food pantry and bring a higher level of support to Norman’s community members. And, because of the great impact that this new center will provide to the entire community, Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods, Landmark Fine Homes, and Gene and Sherry McKown are excited to announce significant donations to Food & Shelter, Inc. to provide funding and resources to help build The Share Center. 

April Heiple, Executive Director for Food & Shelter, Inc, says The Share Center was imagined as a way for resources in the Norman community to be offered in one location. Heiple had seen a very similar model of community support at The Regional Food Bank of Moore, which was established after the tornado in 2013. This location offers shoes, school supplies, necessities for families, and more, and they noticed a significant increase in the number of Norman families visiting the facility. That is when Heiple knew that Norman needed another location for a community food and supplies pantry. 

In 2020, Ronda McKown, Outreach Ministry for Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods, visited Our Daily Bread of Stillwater and loved the fact that three local churches came together with food pantry items and made a centralized location for families in need. This allowed community members to come in and shop for items that they can use and pick what they liked instead of being given products that they might be allergic to or unable to eat. Those in need were able to select their own groceries and necessities just like a traditional store would offer. Once Heiple and McKown began to discuss opportunities, The Share Center began to come to life.

In order to make this center a reality, local home builders rose to the challenge to support the project. Gene McKown, co-founder of Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods, and his wife and Sherry are personally donating $300,000 to help fund the new food and resource center. This support is in addition to a previous contribution from Gene McKown in 2012 with his late wife, Judy, to establish the Food and Shelter, Inc. McKown Village of tiny homes.

“It is an honor for Sherry and me to be able to help bring The Share Center to life. We are passionate about supporting our community, especially Food and Shelter, Inc. We want to continue to give back and help make a strong foundation for the families who need it,” said Gene McKown. 

Gene then challenged his company to a pledge of an additional $900,000, which Ideal immediately pledged. 

“Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods wanted to be a part of the process. As a homebuilder, it was important to us to provide a center for the homeless of all ages. It is something that is near and dear to all our employees’ hearts,” Ronda McKown said.

Additionally, Landmark Fine Homes is contributing significantly to resources and funds to build the new center. “Food and Shelter is close to our heart at Landmark Fine Homes. We are excited to be constructing our second building for this wonderful organization,” Dan Reeves, president of Landmark Fine Homes, said.

The contributions of Gene and Sherry McKown, Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods, and Landmark Fine Homes will contribute approximately half of the total project cost of $1.9 million.

The Share Center will also allow partnerships with community and mainstream services, the Housing Authority, and DHS to offer support to community members on site. The Share Center will be a place for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures to be able to access the items and support they need.

“If someone comes in and they say they are struggling to feed their family, we know that is probably not the only need. They may need housing assistance for rent and utilities. Maybe vet services, food stamps, etc.,” Heiple said. “The goal is to help people who are struggling to achieve stability in a much more easy and effective way.”

The Share Center of Norman’s future home will be located south of McKown Village at 211 Reed Avenue, Norman, OK 73071 with a groundbreaking in 2022.

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