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 He has worked with many kids with ADHD, those who were very shy and withdrawn, and many with emotional and/or behavioral problems helping them to learn to play ball and have fun.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.
Benjamin and Traci Cummings are the house parents of Vammen Cottage. Benjamin and Traci are native to Northeastern Oklahoma and have lived in the Oaks Community all of their lives. They have been house parents at Oaks Indian Mission since August, 2011. Ben and Traci have been married since September 9, 1998. They have three girls and one boy. Both knew the need of the Mission for dedicated house parents to love and care for these children as their own. So in August of 2011 when they heard the Mission needed full-time house parents, they both felt a huge desire to give back to their community. The Cummings’ have based their family foundation on spending quality time together. They all enjoy ballgames, movies, and playing board games. With the boys involved in so many different activities they’re always having fun and on the go. Traci knows all too well how easy a busy day can fly by here at the Oaks between doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, laundry, dinner, house work, and homework. Understanding the unique backgrounds each of the boys come from, Traci instills love and plants the seeds of faith and let’s God do the rest. One of the most treasured times for the Cummings is the Christmas party. “Seeing the joy on those kids’ faces when they received a gift was priceless,” Traci said. Even with some long days, there are always priceless moments to cherish. The Cummings’ attend church with the boys every week at the Ebenezer Lutheran Church and value faith and prayer in their home and have hope that each one of the boys will become a positive, productive member of society. They both are learning to be patient and understanding. Both Ben and Traci love spending time with the boys and helping them learn to respect themselves and each other. The Cummings’ love and care for their family at the Vammen Cottage every day and have hope that each day they have the opportunity to show the love of God to each boy.