Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

May 25, 2013

Power in working together:

NORA representative addresses Chamber

CATOOSA —

Executive Director of Zoe Institute Rhonda Clemons-Hill spoke to Claremore Chamber of Commerce members Thursday about Northeastern Oklahoma Regional Alliance, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to leveraging resources between Northeast Oklahoma communities, implementing regional plans for growth and prosperity.
Clemons-Hill told her story about how she was inspired to help single mothers after she lost her husband to cancer years ago. At the time, as a single mother of four children, including a newborn, she said she wondered how women who were worse off than she was handled the stress.
“I began to ask myself, ‘how do single spouses who are mistreated, working for minimum wage and who don’t have anyone, become happy and successful?’ I thought about this all of the time.”
As a successful grant writer and business woman, Clemons-Hill became interested in teaching non-profits how to treat their organizations more like a business to better assist people who were struggling.
About that time, George W. Bush pushed for faith-based organizations to receive more grant opportunities, she said.
“I got some friends together, began to brainstorm and decided I should start my own non-profit. That’s when I established Zoe Institute.” 
She said Zoe is Greek for abundant life.
The institute began as a place where single mothers could go to become empowered and learn new thinking skills, such as financial literacy and the value of education. 
“I didn’t know what the actual results would be at first, I just knew I didn’t want Zoe to be a crisis agency,” she said. “Eight years later, the results have been amazing.”
This year Zoe Institute received a six figure number in incoming grants and is now offering a large community warehouse where offices distribute food, clothing and furniture to those in need.

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