Source: The Stockton Record
Exactly a year ago, Oasis City Center Executive Director Heather Green and her team established a drive-thru food distribution center at Oasis Cares, 848 E. Hammer Lane.
After 12 months, they’ve collected and delivered over 1 million pounds in pantry products to 250,000 community members.
Because of her work, Green was recently named Woman of the Year for District 13 by State Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua.
“Oh my gosh! I was shocked!” said Green. “I think I was shocked the most because I know this is not all me, and what we (Oasis) are doing could not have been done without a team of people,” she added.
Oasis Church – the organization behind the center – received their food bank certification and started Oasis Cares with a 5,000-square-foot area sectioned at the center’s building back side.
Operations started with food pantries for children – the center’s original focus – on Feb. 26, 2020. However, soon after they had to pause their work when the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic reached Stockton.
Oasis City Center had to close – as gyms and recreational centers did – but Green and her team “flipped on a dime,” sorted their logistics and opened the Oasis Cares division again, this time helping the community at large.
"The donations that we started receiving were not so much for kids, but to keep feeding our community,” said Green. “We were able to really able to do that (help the community) because we are the community center of Oasis Church.”
The Oasis community came together in a time of need, donating supplies and monetary gifts between $10 to $30 a month. “We were able to receive a handful of grants from organizations like United Way and The Community Foundation, but it was the small dollars that really helped us keep going,” she added.
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Every pantry delivered to families is about 40 to 50 pounds worth of products: a mix of food, water and household supplies.
As a certified food bank partnered with Second Harvest in Manteca – a member of Feeding America – Oasis Cares further partnered with a network of providers to collect supplies.
Green and her team try to provide families with well-rounded meals. Groceries include produce, frozen meats, fish, vegetables and some longer shelf-life lasting items.
The variety of products not only aims to provide families with a balanced supply, but also for the pantries “to last them a little bit of time,” said Green.
“We know it’s been hard for a lot of families this last year,” so with well-stocked pantries, families can make it to their next paycheck or other financial help, she said. “Oasis is really here to ignite hope in tangible ways and for our food distribution, it’s food.”
Green was born and raised in Stockton. She moved to Las Vegas for college and lived there for seven years. She was visiting her parents on one occasion when she fell in love with the vision for the Oasis center and wanted to be a part of it.
During her time in Vegas, she worked five years with the Make-A-Wish Foundation before returning home. She started as an intern and over time became the Southern Nevada Chapter’s senior manager of development.
Oasis Church Pastors Jennifer and Joe Steelman met Green through a family member of theirs. They were in the process of building the Oasis City Center and “we were just looking for the right person that was going to come in and be able to oversee and run it,” said the Rev. Jennifer Steelman.
Green “just has such a great gift to lay structure, to lay foundation, to bring her gift for nonprofits into the arena,” Steelman said.
Green started working with Oasis in 2018 and has been able “to come in and lay such a phenomenal foundation for Oasis Cares that the way we began to distribute food during the pandemic was second to none,” added Steelman.
While helping manage Oasis Cares through the center, Green also had a baby in the middle of the pandemic. “I had an incredible team that jumped in and helped out,” said Green. Having a child did not seem to stop Green from continuing with her passion.
“Her love for people, her love for meeting the needs for people is evident, it’s powerful, and she has a passion for what she does,” Steelman added. “Working with somebody who has a passion is something that you just can’t put a price tag on.”
Because services couldn’t be held for a long period of time, much of the church staff was reallocated to Oasis Cares “and Heather (Green) took the lead at reorganizing everybody,” said Steelman. “We’ve fed a lot of people throughout the pandemic because of Heather's skillset.”
“She just has a great passion for people and that’s something you just don’t get to see often,” Steelman added. “So, when you see it in somebody, it is wonderful to recognize it and that’s why I am so excited for her to receive this award, because I can’t think of a person more deserving.”
“I am just someone who is very fortunate enough to work for two visionaries (Joe and Jennifer Steelman) that allowed me to join a team of leaders to really ignite hope for our city,” said Green.
“I am honored that I was the one able to receive it, but I am excited that I get to share it with the team because of their hard work and their determination, their willingness to not slow down when our community needed us the most,” she added.
“My name might be on this award, but it is not just for me. It recognizes all of the women behind me, the women that are leading me.”