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Volunteers honored for OCWA work

The Oklahoma Christian Women’s Association has supported the university for nearly 60 years, including more than $2 million in recent years to fund various programs.

Former OCWA coordinator Becky Durham and longtime volunteer Carla Merideth played a big role in bettering Oklahoma Christian through this important organization.

The university will honor their support and spirit at Homecoming when Becky and Carla become honorary alumni.

“For more than half a century OCWA has been an incredible member of the OC family,” said Christine Merideth (91), former OCWA coordinator and Carla’s daughter-in-law. “Every one of the women in this organization loves the OC community with all of their hearts. These ladies spend countless hours every year raising funds to enrich students’ lives.”

OCWA began in 1955 when President James O. Baird urged a group of Tulsa ladies to help advance Christian education in Oklahoma.

Originally called Stepping Stones, the group became known as the Oklahoma Christian Women’s Association after the school moved from Bartlesville to Oklahoma City.

Becky’s involvement in OCWA began in 1969, long before her three sons – Jeff (82), Barry (83) and Kyle – came to Oklahoma Christian as students.

“It always seemed like a really important thing to do,” said Becky, who served as OCWA coordinator from 1989 to 2000. “We’ve helped with just about every department on campus, and we’re all really, really happy to do that. It’s also been great getting to know women from all over the state that I wouldn’t have gotten to know if not through OCWA.”

Each year, OCWA collects a “wish list” of projects not covered in various departmental budgets and does its part to meet those needs.

Their longtime support of Eagle Broadcasting makes basketball game broadcasts possible, allowing OC fans to keep up with the Eagles and Lady Eagles when they’re on the road.

OCWA funds helped finance the nursing program and the security department’s recent conversion to a full-fledged campus police department. OCWA has helped redecorate lounges and beautify the campus in other ways.

“Any time we can relieve pressure on OC in any way is valuable,” Carla said. “I care about the school. I believe in the kids. I believe in the teachers. I believe in the whole program. I want to do anything I can do to help the school release funds so some other kid can go there.”

Carla had three children attend Oklahoma Christian – Bobby (91), Kent and Kimberly. She’s always been impressed by the spirit of hospitality and helpfulness on campus: “It’s amazing what OC people will do when they’re asked,” she said.

From bake sales to library books, from scholarships to special events, OCWA and its members have great plans to advance the university and serve the community.

The challenge is to pass the torch and responsibility from generation to generation so the flame continues to burn.

“We’ve always had a hard time getting women right out of school when they’re just starting out with life,” Becky said. “The key to getting it more effective is getting younger women involved.”

From close relationships to the satisfaction of helping the university succeed, they say OCWA is worth the time and effort.

“It’s a payback. If all you have time to do is bake a pie or pay some dues, you can still get involved,” Carla said. “How are we going to go forward if the next generation isn’t involved? Everybody has to do their part.”

Becky and Carla have played a huge part. It’s probably earned them a few more stars in their crowns … along with starring roles at November’s Homecoming Banquet as honorary alumni.

“My life has been incredibly blessed by a wonderful group of women who love OC, its students, its faculty and staff, and, most importantly, the Lord,” Christine said. “These women have influenced my life and been examples in countless ways.”

By Kelly Ferguson (13) and Wes McKinzie (98)