Coffee with moms: supporting families of special-needs children

Kaley Conner
Staff Writer

On Saturday, Dec. 21, two Texas County mothers, Hope Coen and Shanda Oden, hosted a "Coffee with Moms" event to provide companionship and a place for open discussion to mothers of special needs children. This event is only a piece of Coen’s and Oden’s goals for the Panhandle—behind Coffee with Moms lies a much bigger movement.

Coen herself mothers five adopted children, some of whom have extra needs. She, along with Oden, recognized a lack of resources in the Oklahoma Panhandle for parents like herself and took initiative to begin creating local services.

Oden mothers eight biological and adopted children, some of whom have special needs ranging between behavioral, physical, and intellectual disabilities. An employee of Oklahoma Family Network (OFN) based in Oklahoma City, she rallied support from the organization, along with others, to back efforts toward bringing similar organizations to the Panhandle. Oden states that “it’s not just two moms; we have connections, agencies, and a whole group of other moms working together to expand reach to the Panhandle. Together, we have the voice to do it.”

The initiative started in 2017 with the founding of the Oklahoma Panhandle Resource Center (OPRC), which will bring services similar to those offered by agencies like the OFN closer to families in the Panhandle.

The goal is to encourage local families of children with special needs to stay in the Panhandle. Oden was advised to move away when her daughter was diagnosed as deaf, but she chose to stay—she states: “We live in the best place on earth, but when you’re raising kids with special needs or anything ‘extra,’ it’s a long, lonely road in the Panhandle. We want to bring resources together to make the road less lonely. With one united voice, we can access services that are not necessarily right here and connect with agencies downstate to bring resources here.”

Additionally, the OPRC is working with the Lucas Project, founded by Jess and Ryan Ronnie, to open chapters nationwide, with Guymon being the location of the first.

In addition to Coffee with Moms, Coen, Oden, and the OPRC have a plethora of future events planned for the Oklahoma Panhandle, including "Special Gameday," a cooking class, and a silent walk.

This is only the beginning of Coen’s and Oden’s movement to establish local resources. In the coming years, the two mothers plan to shape the community into one in which families of special-needs children can find the support they need right at home.


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