By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The public is invited to celebrate the 35th year of WildCare Oklahoma’s dedicated work by attending its first-ever dinner fundraiser and silent auction themed “Keeping It Wild in Oklahoma.” Honoring their landmark 100,000th animal helped, the event will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 20 at Sooner Legends Hotel, 1200 24th Avenue Southwest, in Norman.
The organization has also announced that its co-founders Rondi Large, who served as executive director and O.T. Sanders, the facility director, are stepping down to “begin their next adventures in retirement.” The organization is welcoming Kim Woods as its new executive director.
Named to WildCare’s top position on June 3, Woods is the former Deputy Director of the Homeless Alliance. a non-profit organization dedicated to ending long-term homelessness in Oklahoma City.
“WildCare, like all organizations, including non-profits, go through stages” said Large. “As the Founder, I was there in 1984 as the vision of helping wildlife grew to actually doing it. These were our ‘start-up’ years. As more people needed our service we transitioned into the ‘growing’ years. Thousands of animals arrived each year. Staff was added, policies were developed, fundraising was attempted, but our primary focus was on our mission.
“Today, WildCare is in its ‘mature’ years,” Large added. “While the mission is what guides us, it is our responsibility to ensure WildCare’s sustainability. Kim Woods will lead WildCare in this stage.”
According to Large, Woods’ hiring comes as WildCare implements a plan of strategic growth in programs, development, outreach and corporate sponsorship.
“As I retire, I could not be leaving WildCare in more capable and compassionate hands,” Large said.
As a sixth generation Oklahoman, Woods graduated from the University of Oklahoma’s School of Social Work with a bachelor’s degree in 2006. An alumna of Leadership Oklahoma City, she spent fifteen years working in homeless services, particularly program implementation and management. Serving as its deputy director for six years, Woods provided operational oversight and leadership.
An avid outdoorswoman, Kim is passionate about wildlife conservation and protecting Oklahoma’s natural resources. She has a special affinity for raptors and corvids, (Corvidae), and stout-billed passerine birds including the crows, jays, magpies, and ravens.
Located in Noble, WildCare Oklahoma’s goal is to release healthy animals back into the wild.
The WildCare facility features the Golden Family Rehabilitation and Education Center, a 5,200 square foot building which includes admissions, an education room, veterinary clinic, commissary, office space, dorm rooms, isolation suite, reptile room, and separate nurseries for birds of prey, predatory mammals, small mammals, raccoons, songbirds, and cottontails.
The outdoor area includes 13,400 square feet of mammal enclosures and 26,100 square feet of aviaries situated into WildCare’s natural Oklahoma habitat.
“We’ve decided these milestones cannot go uncelebrated so we’re hosting our first-ever dinner fundraiser and silent auction on Saturday, July 20th at Sooner Legends Inn & Suites in Norman,” the press release stated. “You won’t want to miss this celebration as we’ll share stories from the past 35 years, play WildCare trivia, raffle off some great prizes, and host a silent auction full of wonderful items.”
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with appetizers and bar available starting at 6 p.m., followed by a dinner buffet at 7p.m.
The event will include a BBQ buffet provided by Sooner Legends (vegan options available on request), a silent auction, raffle prizes, wine and beer pull, and spin-to-win prize wheel. WildCare is now accepting donated items and services for the silent auction.
A ticket for one drink from the bar is included in the ticket price; additional drinks will be available at the cash bar.
For groups that would like to sit together, early arrival is recommended. Sponsorships for larger groups are available.
Individual tickets are $50 and can be purchase online or by calling 405-872-9338. For questions regarding sponsorships, email [email protected]. For “Keeping It Wild in Oklahoma” dinner updates, visit the WildCare Oklahoma event page.
Donations to the WildCare Foundation can be made online, by calling 405-872-9338, or checks can be mailed to WildCare Foundation, 7601 84th St. Noble, OK 73068. To volunteer or for more information, visit wildcareoklahoma.org.