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  • Examiner Enterprise

    Bartlesville's homeless mission faced bureaucratic hurdles but plans to open this summer

    By Andy Dossett, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise,

    11 days ago
    • 'B the Light' homeless mission, founded by Keith and Christy McPhail, is nearing final construction stages.
    • The mission hopes to open its doors by August.
    • Additional environmental testing required by DEQ is scheduled for June, with results expected in July.
    • The mission plans to house 20 men and six women each night, offering essential services and shelter.

    'B the Light' homeless mission, founded by Keith and Christy McPhail, is nearing the final stages of construction and hopes to open its doors by August.

    The mission, which aims to provide essential services and shelter to those in need, has been working diligently to meet the requirements set by various regulatory bodies.

    The McPhails faced bureaucratic roadblocks in opening the mission due to complications related to the building's prior purpose.

    The building in question, once a testing facility for the National Institute for Petroleum and Energy Research (NIPER), was remediated in the late '90s for commercial use by Ascension St. John Jane Phillips Hospital, then gifted to 'B the Light.'

    Oklahoma's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was concerned with possible contamination and required additional testing before they would sign off.

    The testing, necessary to meet both DEQ and city standards, is scheduled for June, with results expected in July. The McPhails expressed confidence that the results would be favorable, allowing the mission to open in August.

    "We're almost done with construction, and we have a lady who used to work for the DEQ helping us with the required testing," Keith McPhail said.

    A pivotal moment for 'B the Light' was a recent meeting with DEQ officials, attended by a representative from Senator James Lankford's office.

    "Their involvement helped us get clear answers and a plan of action." Keith McPhail said. "It was great having them because it just gave us an extra set of ears to hear and understand stuff that we don't."

    With not being able to open until testing is complete, the need for the mission is pressing, with increasing calls for help each week.

    "The Light House is always full, so there's a huge need right now," Christy McPhail stressed. "We have to open these doors."

    Despite the urgency, the mission aims to ensure all safety and security measures, including fire detectors and a security system, are in place before opening.

    The mission has recently seen significant upgrades, including a new roof funded by the Lion Foundation and the Parsons Foundation.

    "Got the roof replaced, so no more leaks and the guttering came with the new roof, so it's all looking great," McPhail noted.

    When asked about the anticipated demand, Keith McPhail predicted a swift influx of residents.

    "Within the first week, we'll be full," he said, acknowledging that not all who seek help can be accommodated immediately. The McPhails plan for the mission to house 20 men and six women each night, where they can shower, have a fresh change of clothes and two hot meals.

    Anyone staying at the mission will first meet with a care coordinator to find their level of need and start them on a path to purpose, according to the McPhails.

    In addition to financial donations, the mission seeks community support for essential items and services. The Red Cross has also shown interest in making 'B the Light' a designated site for people to come during emergencies.

    For those wanting to help or needing assistance, 'B the Light' can be reached via their website at, their Facebook page, or by calling 918-288-0009.

    "Everyone deserves a hand up," Keith McPhail said. "I know what it's like to struggle with addiction. I'm a former cocaine addict. I know what it's like to be homeless. I lived in my car. I know loss. We lost our son 13 years ago."

    The McPhails said 100% of the money goes to the mission, which is fully run by volunteers like them.

    "No one is taking a salary; we are all volunteers," Christy McPhail said.

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