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Bringing Change to South Oak Cliff

By Ryan Brown
Buckner International

(DALLAS, Texas) – High crime rates, low school retention rates and low employment rates are a part of life in South Oak Cliff and many families are looking for someone, somewhere to bring them hope. Wynnewood is that place.

“It matters to somebody every day on this property that we show up,” said Cheryl Williams, director of the Wynnewood Community Services Center. “Change happens to them. They get jobs; they are empowered to become better parents. In some area of their life, they change and that’s what we want to provide here.”

The Wynnewood Community Services Center, a ministry of Buckner International, continues to serve inner-city, low-income children and families in South Dallas through an after-school program, food pantry, counseling services, GED/ESL classes, job readiness training, senior citizen activities, spiritual enrichment and much more.

[caption id="attachment_1202" align="alignright" width="250" caption="The Wynnewood Community Services Center, located in South Oak Cliff, has continued to provide programs, classes, seminars and more for this low-income community. "][/caption]

Williams became the director of Wynnewood in 2009. Building on the programs already in action, she has continued to provide new programs like empowerment classes, nutritional seminars and more.

“I tell people all the time: I’ve gotten too old to be impressive, it’s time to be impactful,” Williams said. “I want to impact this community as much as I can with what I have.”

Williams recently stepped into the shoes of former director, Rev. Johnny Flowers, who built the foundation for the Wynnewood program and remains an icon in the community.

“Mr. Flowers had an approach with people that made them feel comfortable and Miss Cheryl is following in his footsteps,” said Markesha Beal, administrative assistant at Wynnewood. “They are really big hearted and have a heart for the people, so I see that same spirit in both of them.”

From job services and parenting classes to senior programs, Wynnewood reaches out to people of all ages. But its pinnacle program continues to be for children through after-school care. Beal, who has been at Wynnewood for many years, has continued to see this program bring widespread change for children in this community.

“There has been an increase in enrollment,” she explained. “I see these kids with a new hope that I had never seen before. Different groups and organizations offer fun activities for the kids and offer trips for the kids to go to places that show them that there is a bigger world outside Oak Cliff.”

Williams believes the program has become a safe haven for children as the parents and grandparents have begun to see that it’s not just a daycare program – their children are changing.

“There was a gradual change in my granddaughter and I had to see for myself who was speaking into her life,” said Ruby Sam, local resident and frequent volunteer at the center. “So once I saw how this place was making such a difference in her life, I soon found myself becoming involved in the services offered here as well.”

[caption id="attachment_1203" align="alignright" width="250" caption="The after-school center, which has been recently remodeled, is furnished with a computer lab, classroom, library, game room and more to provide the children in the community a place to go to. "][/caption]

Sam feels that Wynnewood’s programs have brought “newness” to the neighborhood as the center that Rev. Flowers help to flourish is now being built upon by Williams.

“I can say that she’s taken a lot of thought in doing things not just better but smarter,” Beal said. “In a way, she is making sure that we are good stewards of what we have been blessed with.”

Known by most people in the community as the “Make-a-Difference Center,” Williams acknowledged that if you’re going to have that type of name, it comes with a great responsibility. “Either you do that or change your name,” she said.

And under Williams direction, everyone says the name is still a perfect fit.

“I know first-hand that this place is a blessing, as these services helped me to start my life over. So we attempt to do the same thing to all those who walk in that door,” Beal said.

For more information on how to volunteer at Wynnewood, contact Cheryl Williams at cawilliams@buckner.org or (214) 948-5153. To make a donation, call Buckner Foundation at (214) 758-8050.


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