Building Friendships Without Judgment
No cliques, just chicks.
That is the idea behind the Oak Cliff Ladies Club, a Facebook page with an aim to be a safe, honest forum and a “friendship building place” for the many women of Oak Cliff who live close to each other but do not know each other.
Started by Oak Cliff resident Katrina Whatley, she posted six years ago, “If you are a non-judgmental woman and have an open mind, we want to hang with you!”
She feels that Oak Cliff is a small town inside a big city. “Girlfriends make life so much richer!” Her page invites female residents with a cheerful tone to “get together, find friends to lean on, be a shoulder to be leaned on, encourage one another, bitch about life with each other, talk about love, kids, and no kids, (maybe) get tattoos, and celebrate each other without judgement.”
Born in San Diego, California, Katrina was raised by a single mom in North Texas. She attended Nimitz High School and remembers it wasn’t for her. “I hated school,” she admits with a laugh. But even so, she attended Dallas County Community College and Seattle College. She worked as a cocktail waitress for three years, and later worked in schizophrenia research as a research coordinator at UTSW.
“I loved research and the good we were doing, but my heart was pushing me toward becoming a Realtor.” She says. “I used to research the housing market and go look at houses for no reason! And I even dreamed about houses! So, in 2006 I took a big chance and left research to try my hand at becoming a realtor.”
Her favorite thing about being a realtor is getting the chance to help guide people through one of the biggest events in their lives. “It is so rewarding to give the keys to a first-time homeowner or to see that big check go to a seller when they cash in on their investment.”
Life in The Cliff
In her home in Oak Cliff, she lives with her three cats, Numa, Quacker, and Madame President. Although she’s happy, she says, “In 2015, I thought that I needed more friends. I decided to create a Facebook group for the women of Oak Cliff that might also be looking for more friends. And the Oak Cliff Ladies Club (OCLC) was born!”
Katrina was happy when she hit fifty members. Now the group has over 3500 members.
“So many friendships have been made since 2015,” Katrina says, “It has really been wonderful to meet each other in real life when we have outings around Oak Cliff.”
Doing Good By Helping Others
The Oak Cliff Ladies Club has two fundraisers each year to help others locally. One is a sale of custom Oak Cliff Ladies Club items like a T-shirt or coffee mug. This year Katrina sold coffee mugs to raise funds for The Promise House charity located in the area. The mug is a tangible way for the ladies to start each day remembering their friends in Oak Cliff – but also to help local teens without a support system.
More than 70% of homeless youth reported experiencing childhood abuse according to the Child and Youth Services Review. All youth enrolled in Promise House programs meet with a licensed therapist and attend individual and group counseling during their time there. The home’s environment helps youth heal from past trauma and not be defined by it.
Katrina’s relentless advertising of the of the 2021 Oak Cliff Ladies Club mug helped her sell nearly 200 in a week, raising over $800 for Promise House.
“We also have our ‘Holiday Giving’ in November and December,” Katrina explains. “I put a call out to the group for members who are in need of holiday gifts or help with bills. We don’t turn anyone away. Last year we raised over $5,000 and were able to help 10 families! This year, I hope to raise even more to help other OCLC members. It is truly an honor and a joy.”
Katrina also helped with a one-time fundraiser after that terrible winter “Snowmaggedon” storm in February. The group raised over $8,600 for members that had storm damage to their homes. Katrina said humbly, “I was only involved on the side lines on this,” but is proud of what her group raised and how they helped local residents in need.
Before Oak Cliff
Before moving to Oak Cliff, few of her friends know Katrina lived on a tiny island called Sark in the English Channel for 4 months. “The island is one mile by three miles – really tiny. And no streetlights or cars allowed.” She moved after that to work in a Scottish fishing village for another four months. Then she traveled to South Africa for, again, another 4 months.
Looking back, she says, “It was the best year of my life!”
The toughest time of her life was when her first husband, that she met on that tiny island, began to develop schizophrenia. “That is why I later got into research.” But today she’s researching crypto currency for fun and has been buying it when she can. “I have had good luck so far. It is really fun!”
Meanwhile, Katrina will stay connected with her fun friends on her Facebook page as she did during the year of Covid and the “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” guidelines. Her page encourages women to be themselves: “No pretense, no power trips, just women being natural,” she says.
“I wanted this to be a place where we are all equal and valued for the women that we are. The job we have is not important. Neither is race. Or religion. And if you are not a jerk, we want you here. An open mind and a diverse group will help us all become better, happier, and more interesting people.”
And to learn more about Promise House, see http://promisehouse.org/contact-us/