Alicia Bristow, President, O.W.N. Oracle
After 10 years of welcoming visitors to the area, and becoming a one-stop place for information, the Oracle Visitor Center is closing its doors, effective immediately. As many residents know, the Visitor Center in Oracle was a project given life under the umbrella of O.W.N. Oracle, dba Oracle Women’s Network, a community nonprofit. COVID and the lack of volunteers in the community and area have resulted in a weak workforce of volunteers. There are approximately 10 nonprofits in the area, and we all draw on the same volunteers for events and projects, and to carry out the work of the nonprofits.
O.W.N. was a grassroots effort by a group of established businesswomen to help women in business, however, in 2014 the fledgling organization became a 501(C)(3) nonprofit. The board of directors has been a working board, all volunteers. Over the years many projects have been tackled working with the community, Pinal County, and the Arizona State Office of Tourism. As COVID hit, people were unable to volunteer, and as recovery has continued many new residents have built or purchased homes in the immediate area. However, it is difficult to convince new residents who are planning retirement to get involved and continue working as volunteers. Most board members have been on the board for at least 10 years. Finding no one willing to step up to replace working board members has resulted in a decision to close O.W.N. In doing so, it means we have lost the Visitor Center and the O.W.N. office. The Oracle Tourism website, visitoracle.org, will be turned over to the Oracle Community Center in the hopes of keeping visitors and residents aware of our events and attractions.
Since the inception of this organization, many good things have happened in Oracle: new businesses, outreach advertising, successful grants, a new road at the Oracle cemetery, establishment of “Keeping American Ave. Clean,” a master plan for the County Park, the establishment of the Oracle Community Garden, establishment of the Oracle Visitor Center and Oracle Tourism website, and much more. It is with a heavy and sad heart that we say “goodbye” to something so many of us have worked for and loved doing the work. Everything has a season, a beginning, and an ending, and that is what has happened to O.W.N. Thank you to the many volunteers and supporters.