In a nondescript building on the northwest side of Oklahoma City is a safe haven for the HIV/AIDS community called Other Options. Since 1988, Other Options has worked to provide fresh food, services and dignity to an oft-ignored part of our city. Other Options was started by Cookie Arbuckle, a legendary social worker, who saw the carnage of the AIDS epidemic and refused to stand by silently.
"She had the heart to do something so special and most of the time she didn't get a paycheck," said Mary Arbuckle, Cookie's daughter.
Cookie's influence is only half of the story. After Cookie passed away in 2011, her daughter, Mary Arbuckle, stepped into her place as Executive Director of Other Options. Growing up with Cookie meant a lot of long hours and paychecks caring for other people and Cookie continues to live on through Mary's work ethic and fierce desire to stay out of the limelight.
"This is their organization, not mine. I'm just here to do the paper work, the grants and the fundraisers. I love that they have taken control of this pantry and run it as theirs," said Mary.
Mary's heart for the HIV/AIDS community pushed her to grow her mother's annual Thanksgiving meal to an even larger audience. In 1999 Cookie partnered with Scotty Irani to serve 34 meals. This year with the help of Robert Painter, Aly Branstetter and an army of volunteers, Other Options plans to deliver 750 full Thanksgiving meals and then serve 250 more meals to the food-insecure community at Sunnyside Diner.
Like her mother, Mary won't take no for an answer, so go ahead and sign up to help prepare and deliver Thanksgiving meals here.