Their name is reminiscent of a reality series, but the Oilfield Wives of Williston (OFW) are nothing like the self-involved drama queens on TV. It’s quite the opposite. Women join OFW to enjoy normalcy in a setting that tends to focus more on work than family life. Plus, they find purpose by working together to support worthwhile causes.
“I don’t know if I would get out much if I didn’t have this group,” says Heidi McCormick, current director of OFW, who replaced founding director Jamilyn Teske, who is moving out of Williston. “Having the group gives me a reason to get out and enjoy myself. It’s not just for wives but also for girlfriends, sisters or moms who find themselves here in the North Dakota oil patch and want to be a part of something.”
They organized in 2009 when Teske and other women started an informal walking group. They joked about being oilfield wives and started planning regular events — coffee on Monday afternoon, Friday playgroup for families with young children and girls night out every other Friday. In the beginning they held baby and wedding showers to mark momentous occasions. But as the group grew, micro-groups and friendships formed, and 15 to 20 core members recognized that as a group they could do more to contribute to the community.
Awareness grows contributions
They created a Facebook page to make women aware of their group and posted a description. Part of it says: "The single requirement to be a part of the group is a desire to positively represent the industry and our families in the community. Joining the group is very simple. Let us know you are coming to an event (so we make sure we connect with you) and show up!"
Besides bringing women together socially, the OFW supports two organizations. “There’s more to life than just getting oil out of the ground,” McCormick says.
The group recently raised $3,475 at a charity ball and plans to add more money with a raffle to support their Relay for Life team’s contribution to the American Cancer Society. On May 11, members will donate baked goods for a sale at Williston’s Band Day to raise money for the May 18 three-mile March of Dimes March for Babies walk in which OFW members will participate.
“Raising money has been a positive thing,” McCormick says. Besides the women working together, many of their husbands also get involved by helping set up for the ball, for example. Some of the men have also developed friendships — and at least a little bit of a social life.
“It’s all good for families. The emotional support is important,” McCormick adds. “It’s hard because most of our husbands work long hours. We have that in common. It can be stressful, especially with small children, and you need contact with other adults who understand.”
OFW recently received nonprofit status and doesn’t plan on going away anytime soon. Every day new women move to Williston, from all over the country. OFW is there to welcome them into safe, social friendships.
To find out when and where events are held, go to Oilfield Wives Williston, N.D., on Facebook.