Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 10, 2014

Meridian Tech luncheon builds agency bonds

STILLWATER, Okla. — Agencies and community organizations gathered in the Meridian Technology Center Skywalk for a luncheon aimed at networking.

The event began in 2005 as a way to say thank you to the various agencies that help students in need.

Teri Roberts, career counselor and event organizer, said it has since grown to a large event that all organizations are eager to attend.

“It’s now to a point where agencies want to come so that they can network with each other,” Roberts said. “It’s becoming a huge event for them every year.”

More than 30 organizations were represented with 76 attendees. Everything from organizations that provide scholarships to health agencies were present. All five counties served by Meridian Tech were represented.

“To me, it means they’re finding value in it,” Roberts said.

After lunch, a microphone was passed around for those in attendance to share what services their agency provides and how it helps those in need. Brenda Mutai-Hall, with Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency, said she has learned about new agencies at the event and formed and maintained partnerships.

“It’s really good to see all the familiar faces and see what’s changed,” Mutai-Hall said.

One of the most important things the luncheon does is bring all of the organizations together. By networking with other groups, Mutai-Hall is able to offer referrals.

“If someone comes in and I can’t help them I’m able to refer them to another agency that can help them,” Mutai-Hall said.

However, the luncheon isn’t only a positive thing for the agencies. It also helps Meridian Tech learn about what services are available for students.

Adult students are the majority of students that require help. Roberts said adult students encounter more life challenges that can cause conflicts with their education.

“These agencies are willing to help to keep the student in school so they can actually succeed and actually become a viable part of our community,” Roberts said.

Services include daily necessities, too. Some students get help with gas, diapers and even clothes. Meridian Tech has a partnership with Elite Repeat Resale Shop to prepare students’ wardrobes for job interviews.

“With a reference from me, they can go out there and get clothing they need to go to an interview,” Roberts said. “We had one student that went out there, and they dressed her from head to toe. She came out with purses and shoes. They went crazy.”

Although she now assists COCAA, Mutai-Hall has also been on the other side. She is a former client of COCAA. The support she received helped her go to college, and now she is returning the favor for others.

“There’s a ton of help out there,” Roberts said. “That is exactly why we’re here. We’re here for you. We’re here to help you get through this time so you can move forward. It’s important that you take that on because that’s going to offer you the support you need instead of just feeling like you’re down and out.”

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