Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center
Mentees: Residents of the Center

Bryan and Ida Mae Wheeler are retired community volunteers. They have been providing mentoring support to the Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center for more than two decades through the Kairos Torch program and as individuals.

“As mentors, Bryan and Ida Mae have steadfastly and continuously served the youth through weekly individual mentoring sessions and monthly group mentoring meetings,” shared Volunteer Services Specialist Kelli Mahanay. “Were it not for their continued dedication over the last twenty years, more than a thousand youth would not have been provided a spiritual foundation upon which to build a new and productive life. They even stepped in during the pandemic to provide video church services to our youth when they were not able to attend in person.”

During weekly mentoring sessions, the young men being mentored were able to play board games and dominoes with Bryan and Ida Mae. Constructive and meaningful conversations took place during this time and the young men were able to share their worries and concerns in a safe environment.

One program mentee shared, “Bryan and Ida Mae had a positive influence on me. They gave me a positive direction and taught me how to correct my mistakes.” Another mentee shared, “The Wheelers taught me how to be happy and take responsibility for my own happiness.”

About the Program: The Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center is a medium-security state facility operated by the Office of Juvenile Affairs. The center houses 60 young men between the ages of 13-19 who have been adjudicated by the courts as juvenile delinquents or youthful offenders. Many young men at the center come from disadvantaged or chaotic homes and have had few if any positive male role models in their lives. Mentors can meet with the young men one night a week from 7-8 p.m. Many mentors come as individuals and some participate as groups, such as Kairos Prison Ministries and the Christian Motorcycle Association. In addition, church groups regularly volunteer to provide Sunday services and faith-based activities and offer support and encouragement to the young men at the facility.