A Home for Native American Children

The children who call Oaks Indian Mission home are members of tribal nations located in Oklahoma and surrounding states. Most are homeless or have parents or grandparents who simply cannot provide adequate food, clothing, a stable home, education, discipline or spiritual guidance. These loving and caring parents and grandparents make the right choice and ask the Mission for help for their children. Some of our children are orphaned, abandoned, neglected or abused with no secure environment and call the Oaks Indian Mission home.

The Mission cares for children ages 4 to 18, and up to 48 residents are at home at the Mission throughout the school year. Some children stay through the summer months.

The children represent a proud and noble heritage and bring with them gifts, talents, hope, prayers, and dreams for a bright and successful future. Thousands have called the Mission home throughout history. It will always be their home, and because of that we are a better place. Many return as adults bringing their children and grandchildren with stories to share.

Dave and Julienne Sanders are the house parents of Creek Cottage. Dave and Julienne are native to Northeastern, Oklahoma. The Sanders have been house parents since February, 2012. Dave and Julienne have been married for twenty years and have four children and five grandchildren and one “on the way”. They currently care for the younger boys at the Mission and have up to eight boys in their cottage. Dave has been involved in the community for many years, has always had a huge heart for kids and enjoys giving back to his community. In 2009, he was the Vice President of the Oaks Little League and volunteered his time to help coach. He has worked with many kids with ADHD, those who were very shy and withdrawn, and many with emotional and/or behavioral problems helping them to learn to play ball and have fun. The Sanders’ value family time together and hope to teach the boys the importance of family traditions. Every Sunday they attend church with the boys at Ebenezer Lutheran Church hoping to establish a family based on God’s Word. Respect is the number one priority the Sanders’ want the boys to learn as well as understand that there is an entire world full of opportunities to experience as long as they make the right decisions and stay in school. Sports are a huge part of the Sanders family tradition and they intend to involve the boys whenever they show an interest. Dave enjoys reading to the boys before bed and making sure they know they are cared for and safe. Dave and Julienne have a huge respect for their Native culture and now know working with these boys will have a huge impact in their local community. They annually attend the Cherokee National Holiday and plan to take all the boys to experience the different events, arts and history of their culture. Grades are very important to the Sanders and they our instilling the importance of a good education in order to make each boys’ future a positive one.
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Meet the Harps. Arlin “Buddy” and Comella Harp are caring for the boys of Vammen Cottage. They have two sons. Having been here since November 2015, they are fitting in nicely with everyone here at Oaks, especially the older boys they care for. Buddy, a factory worker for the last 10 years and Comella, a stay-at-home mom, bring hard work and dedication to their new place as house parents. Having been actively involved with their church, the family of four believe that what they’ve experienced in their own lives will help them along the way. “With lots of prayer, we both felt that the mission trips and the outreach program and working with our youth at our old church was God’s way of preparing us to be house parents,” said Buddy. In addition, walking this new journey, the Harps are really enjoying their time with the kids and taking to their new roles with open hearts and minds. “The kids’ spiritual growth is much like their physical growth, from day-to-day there are no drastic changes. Over time, you can look back and notice how they have grown spiritually through decisions they make, interactions with others and how they carry themselves as young people,” said Buddy. “Being given the opportunity to impact their lives, hopefully for the better, is truly an honor.”