By Darla Shelden
A genuine Oklahoma landmark, the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The hotel, located at the corner of 1 Park Ave. in downtown Oklahoma City, is the city’s oldest hotel and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Synonymous with elegance and innovation, the Skirvin has hosted oil barons, dignitaries, political leaders and Presidents.
Last October, during the hotel’s Centennial Celebration Gala, the Skirvin Hilton Hotel raised $100,000 for two charities. All net proceeds benefited the Foundation of Oklahoma City Public Schools and the Homeless Alliance. The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools was founded more than 25 years ago as part of a collaborative effort to improve the quality of education in the Oklahoma City community. The foundation serves more than 43,000 students in the Oklahoma City Public School District.
With a focus on creating community ownership in the success of every child, the Foundation’s mission is to play a major role in supporting efforts to improve academic achievement and advocating for change in educating the next generation.
“More than 82 percent of our students qualify for free meals, meaning they live in homes whose family income is near or below the federal poverty standard,” said Lori Dickinson, Foundation of Oklahoma City Public Schools Executive Director. “There is no more valuable investment in our community than creating a public education system that prepares our children for success.”
Oklahoma City’s Homeless Alliance was incorporated in 2004.It was initially funded by private foundation grants from the Noble Foundation, the Merrick Foundation, and the Inasmuch Foundation.
Today, the Homeless Alliance is a not-for-profit organization working to improve the system of care for the homeless in Oklahoma City through collaboration with government, faith-based and nonprofit service providers, city government, and local businesses.
Another goal is to rally the community to end long-term homelessness in Oklahoma City by increasing the supply of affordable and permanent housing for those who are currently homeless and those who are in danger of becoming homeless.
“As a means of reaching our goal of ending homelessness, the Alliance envisions a cohesive, collaborative and coordinated system of care, utilizing nationally recognized best practices to dramatically improve the services provided to our homeless population,” said Dan Straughan, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance.
Five generations of Oklahomans and visitors from around the world have passed through the Skirvin in the past one hundred years. First opened in 1911, the Skirvin Hotel is named for its founder, William Balser “Bill” Skirvin, whose daughter, Perle Mesta, became the ambassador to Luxembourg under Harry Truman.
“What better way to celebrate serving in a community for 100 years than to give back to that community,” said Skirvin General Manager, Martin van der Laan.