Because of mission, ‘there is always an option,’ says Oakes
By John Rech firstname.lastname@example.org
West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes says he is ready to be the Keynote Speaker at the upcoming 2016 installment of the 8th Street Mission for Jesus Christ’s annual banquet. The mission is taking a new approach to the fundraiser this year, featuring an abbreviated format and a promised 7:30 p.m. finish. Mission Director Larry Brown explained the improved agenda and looked forward to the police chief’s presentation Tuesday, March 15 at the Eugene Woods Civic Center at the West Memphis civic complex. “The doors open at 5 p.m.,” said Brown. “We plan on being over by 7:30. I talked to our caterer yesterday. Food will actually be available when you come through the door. We’ve heard our banquet was too long. We have a lot of seniors that want to hear the program and support the mission, but they want to get home before dark.” Brown had high praise for the man who will deliver the keynote. “I am excited to have Chief Donald Oakes come. I’ve heard him before,” said Brown. “He is a guardian over our city and has sent a lot of guys our way.” Oakes indicated he has had a long involvement with the mission, going back to his patrolman days. He attributed some noticeable community improvements to the work of the organization. “If it wasn’t for the 8th Street Mission for Jesus Christ, many, many, many people that I can remember — we would have had no other option but to take them to jail,” said Oakes. “We had to get them off the street because it was freezing cold and they had nothing to eat. I can remember as a young patrolman taking up a collection among broke patrolmen to get someone a hotel room. Now with the mission, we never have to do that. There is always an option.” Oakes indicated the mission works daily displaying love in action. “You ride around West Memphis, you never see anyone sleeping on a bench or under an overpass because if they are homeless, they are at the mission. If they are hungry, we take them down there to Larry and he feeds them. If you just walk in, they will feed you. A lot of them are parents with their kids. We are so fortunate to have that.” “Love in Action” is the theme for this year’s celebration. Tickets are available at the mission for $50 each or a table of eight for $400, or by calling the office at (870) 735-6010, or Richard Bartchy (901) 412-7696.