Tulsa-based Williams has become the first major corporate sponsor of the Reed Community Foundation’s capital campaign to renovate and reopen the Ben Hill Community Center in the Greenwood District.
Toward the project, the energy company has pledged $100,000 annually for five years.
“The donation from Williams is like a breath of fresh air and it will be a game-changer for the Reed Community Foundation,” Reed Community Foundation Founder Keith Reed said in a statement. “I’m so happy Williams chose to work with us, and we look forward to more community partners joining us in changing lives.”
The community center at 210 E. Latimer Place reportedly closed in 2002 but hosted off and on programming until more than a decade ago. In 2012, it and eight other recreation centers were targeted for demolition at a time when the city considered them too far gone to refurbish. Crews demolished the center’s pool in 2013.
Established in 2014, RCF is a place for local children to come after school for mentoring, tutoring or a hot meal. It supports the work of “Coach” Keith Reed and his calling to be a positive role model and instilling self-discipline, self-esteem and confidence in at-risk youth.
RCF is scheduled to open the Ben Hill Community Center in conjunction with the commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in May 2021.
The financial support from Williams will help RCF with its capital campaign goal and operating costs over the next five years. In appreciation of the support from Williams, Reed will name the STEM lab after Williams.
The Williams STEM Lab will educate children in the elements of STEM, including science, technology, engineering and math. Williams employees will also volunteer with the students, providing mentoring experiences and STEM career guidance.
“The Ben Hill Community Center and the important work Reed Community Foundation is doing in North Tulsa is right in our backyard,” Laura Creekmur, president of the Williams Foundation, said in a statement. “Our employees were passionate about getting involved with this center that was a beloved resource to families for many years.
“We are committed to preparing the next generation for leading jobs with employers in STEM fields — including Williams — and we are proud to support our neighbors in strengthening our hometown.”
Dave Staudt (left) and the Rev. Gerald L. Davis, both board members from the Reed Community Foundation, look at the shuttered community center at Ben Hill Park, 210 E. Latimer Place, during a revitalization announcement in 2019.