Amber Hyland, public relations and communications manager for NSO, helps assemble a jigsaw puzzle with Miss Mickey, a longtime resident at Palo Duro, in the building’s spacious activity room. Neighborhood Services Organization. The nonprofit operates a dental clinic, a WIC clinic, housing for homeless mentally ill and transitional housing for homeless among other things. Oct. 4, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

In the Oklahoman:


Published: Mon, November 12, 2018 5:00 AM

It’s been called the granddaddy of Oklahoma City nonprofits.

And even though Neighborhood Services Organization is not quite the oldest local charity, it quietly has provided aid to overlooked and impoverished populations for almost 100 years.

It also has served as an incubator for numerous other nonprofits that trace their roots back to NSO including the Regional Food Bank, Latino Community Development Center, the Detox Center, Mobile Meals and Positive Tomorrows school for homeless children, said Stacey Ninness, NSO’s president and CEO.

“We’ve always served people where services haven’t been provided. Our mission has always been in serving the most critical needs here in Oklahoma City, and always wanting to serve the most vulnerable populations,” she said.

Besides a brand-new, low-cost dental clinic located in NSO headquarters at 431 SW 11, the nonprofit operates the state’s largest independent Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, clinic serving 54,000 in 2017.

NSO also offers transitional housing for up to two years for homeless pregnant women, homeless families with multiple children and young men who are 18 to 23 years of age through its Martha’s House, Gatewood and Carolyn Williams Center housing units.

“We are always full,” Ninness said. “We turn away about 300 moms per year.”

And through its Palo Duro program, NSO provides 36 apartments for homeless, single adults with a mental illness. The housing is permanent, and many residents have lived there for more than a decade.

“This is my home,” said “Miss Mickey,” a longtime resident at Palo Duro. “This is my family. We watch TV together. People like to come to my apartment for coffee in the morning. It’s just wonderful.”

Serving the most vulnerable

NSO was founded in 1920 by a handful of Methodist women who were concerned about impoverished, often immigrant families living in the Riverside neighborhood south of downtown.

Initially, it was called the Wesley Community House, and it “had its own 1,400-volume public library, a music department for 25 children, choirs, Blue Bird and Camp Fire clubs for girls, a mothers’ club, literacy and citizenship classes and numerous activities for children and youth that kept them safe,” according to the NSO website.

In 1946, the group founded a second location in northeast Oklahoma City called the Bethlehem Center, which served the primarily African-American neighborhoods with similar programs for children, families and the elderly.

For the next two decades, Wesley Community House and Bethlehem Center thrived. However, in 1969, the two facilities merged with Neighborhood Centers, a nonprofit with several locations, and the organization became Neighborhood Services Organization.

As for the next 100 years, Ninness said she sees all of the NSO programs expanding.

“We’ve been here 100 years, but we’re just scratching the surface as we plan for the future,” Ninness said. “We try to serve where no else is serving. We’re collaborative, we’re innovative. I can only imagine when the next century will bring for NSO.”

Previously the Grant Compliance Specialist for It’s My Community Initiative, Emily Carmichael will bring her legal skills and her experience in nonprofit programing to further NSO’s mission as the new Chief Compliance Officer.

“The Chief Compliance Officer will be responsible for examining, evaluating and investigating business and program compliance with laws, regulations, grants, contracts and industry standards,” said Stacey Ninness, President and CEO of NSO. “With this new position, NSO can continue to implement best practices, as well as grow our much-needed housing and health services. We’re very excited to have Emily on staff.”

Carmichael attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas graduating cum laude and earning her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. Afterwards she attended Oklahoma City University School of Law, where she participated in the University of Oklahoma Center on Child Abuse and Neglect’s Multidisciplinary Program on Child Abuse and Neglect and completed a summer course in International Humanitarian Law in The Hague, Netherlands and Freiburg, Germany.

Carmichael earned her Juris Doctor and passed the bar in 2009. She is one of approximately 200 Certified Grants Management Specialist (CGMS) in the United States. Carmichael practiced law as a worker’s compensation defense attorney for several years before changing careers to work in the nonprofit sector. She is also a newly graduated member of Leadership Oklahoma City’s LOYAL Class XIII.

Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma City, she enjoys traveling, Bikram Yoga and spending time with friends, family and her beloved dog, Mr. “Bearister” Bear Jangles.

The $40,000 goes towards the NSO Dental Outreach Program

Neighborhood Services Organization is extremely proud to be awarded an iFund Access to Health Care Grant for $40,000 that will go directly towards the NSO Dental Outreach Program.

President of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Nancy B. Anthony, presented a check to NSO on Monday, June 26.

“Providing dental care to children is one of the most beneficial preventive efforts that we can do,” said Anthony. “We appreciate NSO’s commitment to this program and their partnership in serving those who might not otherwise have access.”

NSO’s Dental Outreach program met and exceeded all goals set for 2016. Through free dental screenings, preventative procedures and grassroots outreach, NSO’s dental hygienist saw over 10,000 individuals in 2016. That number includes over 4,500 children from Oklahoma public schools.

“NSO is so thankful for our partnership with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation,” said Stacey Ninness, President and CEO of NSO. “Without their support and generosity, we could not continue to offer this free program to so many at-risk Oklahomans. With our numbers steadily rising, the NSO Dental Outreach program is aiming to reach 6,500 children in 2017. We are grateful that OCCF shares in our vision and mission for providing such crucial services here in Oklahoma.”

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 16) – Neighborhood Services Organization is welcoming its new board members and
officers, including new Board Chair Sue Alberti, on July 1, 2017. NSO’s new board members include Brian
Bakeman (Finance Chair), Dr. Kay Holt, Trey Petty, Angela Powell, Lisa Putt and Casey Sanderson.

Sue Alberti is Senior Vice President of Marketing, Supply Chain and Strategic Planning for Devon Energy.
In addition, she was a United Way allocation panel volunteer in Texas for six years, the last three as
Chair of the Youth Development panel. She has served on the NSO Board of Directors since 2013.

Brian Bakeman is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church and is semi-retired, currently
serving as the Executive Director for the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Kay Holt is the Associate Director and Professor in the Graduate Program in Nonprofit Leadership at
Oklahoma City University, having served as adjunct professor in the program since it began 7 years ago.

Trey Petty is an Assurance Senior at Ernst & Young and has been with the company since 2014. He also
earned his Masters’ of Business Administration from the University of Oklahoma.

Angela Powell is a Senior Health Care Strategist for the Chickasaw Nation and a native Oklahoman. She
has a Bachelor of Arts and Masters’ in Business Administration from the University of Tulsa.

Lisa Putt retired from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma after 22 years, where her past position
was Senior Vice President of Marketing and she was a member of the Executive Leadership team.

Casey Sanderson is a member of BKD National Financial Services Group, with more than five years’
experience providing audit, accounting and consulting services to public and private financial institutions
as well as manufacturing and distribution entities.

Officers for the 2017-2018 fiscal year include:
• Board Chair- Sue Alberti, Devon Energy
• Vice Chair – Lauren Decker, OG&E
• Finance Chair – Brian Bakeman, South Central Jurisdiction of the UMC
• Board Secretary- Steve Ford, ZFI Engineering Co.
• Past Chair- Brian Knight, Eide Bailly

This article can also be seen in the Oklahoman at

United Methodist church women bearing wrapping paper, candy, cookies and bows recently descended upon a small building in south Oklahoma City like elves anxious to get to their North Pole workshop.

The “Santa Operation” had officially begun.

Methodist women from across the state wrapped gifts, filled jars with candy, stuffed stockings, created holiday cards and baked cookies — all to be delivered to individuals and families served by the Neighborhood Services Organization (NSO).

Stacey Ninness, the nonprofit’s president and chief executive director, said Neighborhood Services Organization was founded and operated by Oklahoma United Methodist Women for many years. Although the two entities are now separate, the women’s group has continued to help support the nonprofit, which is now a United Way agency, she said.

The annual Santa Operation, a half-day Christmas service project, provides the women with an opportunity to offer aid in a personal and fun way, Ninness added.

Many of them wrapped, stuffed and baked holiday items at the office, 431 SW 11, while others traveled to decorate the agency’s supportive living centers to provide a bit of Christmas cheer to the residents.

“Not only are we getting ready for Christmas festivities here, but we’re also connecting people to our mission,” Ninness said.

Nancy Koplowitz, a member of McFarlin United Methodist Church in Norman, baked chocolate chip cookies in the NSO kitchen so that other volunteers could fill gift boxes with the sweet treats.

“We come every year to help them get ready for Christmas,” she said. “It’s one of the things that we do as United Methodist Women because our aim is to to serve.”

Christmas at the door

Ninness and NSO communications director Amber Brooks said the Santa Operation brings Christmas literally to the doorsteps of individuals and families participating in the agency’s programs.

These include: Martha’s House, which provides temporary housing for homeless families; Gatewood, a transitional living program for single mothers who are pregnant or have a child five or younger; the Carolyn Williams Center which provides a temporary home for young men 18 and older who have aged out of the foster care system or living on the streets; and Palo Duro living centers for adults with mental illness.

In addition to the gifts, candy, cookies and stocking that were to be distributed at the agency’s annual Christmas party, some United Methodist Women members spread out into the community to add garland, ornaments and wreaths to decorate the living centers for the holidays.

Chris Massey, a member of Chapel Hill United Methodist, said she was part of a group that decorated at Palo Duro.

“We decorated the tree, and we put wreaths on the windows,” she said. “It was amazing. I don’t think you can do something like this without being touched.”

Glenda Gilpin, of Hooker Methodist Church in Hooker, will be the new president of Oklahoma United Methodist Women come Jan. 1.

During the recent Santa Operation activities, she sat with a group of women filling stockings for young men living in NSO’s Carolyn Williams Center with items like men’s cologne and shower gel, trail mix, socks, hand towels and hats and gloves.

She said many of the winter wear items were hand made by United Methodist Women while others items, such as children’s coloring books and toy cars for children’s stockings, were donated.

Gilpin said Neighborhood Services Organization was started in 1920 when a group of Oklahoma United Methodist Women decided to pass a hat around to gather funds for needy families in the community.

“It was women seeing the need and stepping up,” she said.

Not much has changed since then, she noted, as busy women all around her filled boxes with cookies, placed gifts in bags and made Christmas cards designed to bring holiday cheer to the recipient.

Santa Operation 2016 — mission accomplished.