Each day United Way of Southwest Oklahoma improves the lives of men, women, and children in our community. Through the work of our 18 funded partners and their 26 programs, collectively we are addressing the critical needs in our community and providing the support and resources needed to solve these issues while creating better lives for all. Your funds stay local to help create a better tomorrow right here. Your donations to United Way of Southwest Oklahoma helps individuals in need in our community.
Read below to learn more about how your gift is changing lives.
"Be Prepared," the Scout Motto is taught and repeated at Pack and Troop meetings weekly. In December, Scouts in a local unit were tested on their preparedness. While entering a Scout Ceremony, a guest was injured. While many might simply call 911 and wait for help, our Scouts jumped into action. Senior Leaders of the Troop quickly assessed the situation and started first aid on the victim. With the victim in good hands, older Scouts in the Troop quickly ushered the younger Scouts and guests away from the incident and calmed the crowd with a story and group song. Being prepared to administer first aid and ready with quick thinking to calm a crowd, our Scouts helped in a time of need and calmed the fears of many.
In January of 2018, a sibling set involving a 15-year-old boy and an 8 –year-old girl closed after over 4 years in state custody. CASA was assigned to the case in the fall of 2016, almost three years after the children were initially brought into custody. During their 4+ year journey through the child welfare system, these children changed placement five times, and although they were tribal, DHS did not obtain their Indian Health Care cards until this issue was brought to the court’s attention by a CASA recommendation. For three years, the teenage boy suffered from psoriasis that had a severe negative impact on the child’s self-esteem. SoonerCare (state health care) was provided to the children, but the medication he needed was not. With the assistance and persistence of CASA, DHS obtained Indian Healthcare cards for both children and the needed medication was obtained, effectively clearing up the condition within 30 days. Although a skin condition, such as psoriasis, is not life-threatening, to a traumatized youth in the foster care system, this was paramount to social death. The boy was withdrawn and anti-social, but once the condition was treated with the right medication, he became engaged both in school and outside of school. The children were adopted by an older cousin in January of this year and both children are involved at school and doing very well, but undoubtedly, had CASA not been persistent about getting the Indian Health cards, the boy’s condition would have remained and would have had a very adverse effect on his emotional well-being.
Jessica is a 19-year old, Spanish speaking single mother of one who was referred to the Family Hope program by DHS. Upon entering the Catholic Charities Family Hope program, the case manager worked closely with Jessica to help her regain custody of her son. Jessica received parenting classes and counseling services. Additionally, she obtained permanent housing and enrolled her son in the Early Head Start program. As of January 29, 2018, we are proud to report that Jessica was reunified with her son. Jessica continues to participate in the Family Hope program and is well on her way to accomplishing her remaining goals.
My name is Larry. I live in low-income senior housing. I have $143 left every month after paying my bills. I spend $8 per trip for public transportation to the Center for Creative Living. Unfortunately, I do not have enough money to pay for transportation to get there every day. The Center for Creative Living helped me to get qualified for food from the Lawton Food Bank. I didn’t even know about it and am so happy to have those benefits. Now that Center for Creative Living has started a senior nutrition program on Wednesday, I can have a hot meal. I can no longer cook for myself because of my strokes. The only thing I can cook is a microwaved meal. Most of the senior citizens I know can no longer cook a hot meal for themselves. We are so lucky to have this new program in Lawton.
Karen brought her husband John to the Center for Creative Living because his doctor instructed her to. His doctor wanted her to have a break and do some things for herself at least once a week. John has dementia and was very apprehensive at first. We had her cell number so if he seemed very agitated, we could call her to come right back. After the first two or three visits, John wanted to come every day. John started participating in every exercise class and many of the other classes. John stayed with us for many months but his dementia has now become so severe he is unable to leave home. Because of John’s success, we continue to get referrals from doctors.
My life has been positively impacted by the Christian Family Counseling Center. Upon arriving here for my first appointment, I was so lost, so sad. My counselor has shown me that there is hope for me. I thank God for using you to help me. I am truly grateful.
My family and I came into Family Promise in October of 2017 with nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to for help. Since that time we have been blessed many times over. Because of Family Promise’s structured program, my husband and I were both able to find gainful employment and save money to move into a home of our own. The churches that Family Promise works with are absolutely wonderful. All of them welcomed us with open arms and fed us delicious home-cooked meals nightly. Also, thanks to Family Promise we had one of the best Christmases ever. I thank God for the positive impact Family Promise has had on my life. I will not soon forget the people of this organization.
When I first moved out on my own after being in a shelter for a while, I found myself in need of assistance to pay my utilities. Having never had to ask for help, I was in a bad spot, but Family Promise helped me without making me feel embarrassed or ashamed. They were so kind and understanding. I hadn’t been by myself in fifteen years and they taught me how to manage on my own.
In November 2017, 517 girls from Eisenhower Middle School participated in Be a Friend First (B.F.F.) anti-bullying workshop, sponsored by Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma. The girls discussed and learned how to stop bullying and be a friend first. They shared stories and experiences, learned how to overcome bullying, and how to not bully others.
I was recently a client of the C. Carter Crane Shelter. When I first came to the shelter, I was living in my car, had nowhere to stay and was having a hard time getting on my feet. I was trying to get custody of my 2-year-old daughter. The shelter accepted me as a client, gave me a roof over my head, food to eat, clothing and security. When I came to the shelter, I felt like nowhere was safe and the shelter helped me to get some of that secure feeling back as well. The staff was always great and would help in any way they could, would listen when you needed someone to talk to about work, housing, or anything that was concerning you. There was always someone on staff if you needed anything, and they provided me with hygiene products and a place to shower. By staying at the shelter, I was able to get on my feet again and get back to having my own home to live in. They helped me look for housing and when I did find a place, they were able to help me with furniture and deposits. The shelter was nothing like I had originally expected . . . it was a lot better. It was more like a big family reaching out a helping hand.
A senior citizen, who was well below the 200 percent national poverty level, was treated for Hepatitis C through the MedFund program. This program provides treatment medication (valued at over $33,000) for free to patients who have tested positive for Hepatitis C. the patient was cured of his condition in June of 2017 because of the treatment provided by the MedFund program. This program is provided at the Hearts that Care Volunteer Health Clinic.
Mr. W is a 75-year-old man living in low-income housing. He struggles to survive on his social security check. Receiving food from The Lawton Food Bank allows Mr. W to afford to keep his very old, compact card. This is vital for traveling to and from the doctor, and to church. With money saved on food, he is also able to pay his bills and stay in contact with his doctor.
A youth was placed in the shelter due to neglect by his parents. The young man was upset with the world and just wanted to drop out of school and sell drugs to make some money. While at the shelter the case manager talked to him about life choices and the road ahead, making it clear the pitfalls of a life of crime. She suggested a different route: going to Job Corp to finish school and learn a trade. He had an interview with Job Corp after learning interviewing skills form the case manager and was accepted. He recently left the shelter and is currently successfully attending Job Corp.
I started drinking when I was 17 and started using drugs when I was 24, and when I was 39 I made it to Roadback voluntarily. I was literally dropped off at detox. I did 83 days of treatment, including detox. I got out and went into the YIELD program and into sober living at the Helen Holiday. I was there for six months and then I started working part-time as an RA for Roadback and then I eventually went on to work Full-time as an RA. After a year working as an RA, I have been hired as an administrative assistant. I’m still working on my program and going to meetings. I’ve been sober for sixteen months . . . that’s the longest I’ve ever been clean and sober.
A couple came in need of assistance with their electric bill. Both were in tears not knowing what the outcome of their day would be or if their service would be shut off due to non-payment. Fortunately, we were able to pay what was owed in full, ultimately evading a shut off to occur. Both were elated and thankful we could help prevent a devastating outcome.
Gloria is a new member of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club. She enjoys the club’s homework room where she receives help with her homework and participates in the club's STEM programs. Gloria participates as an after-school and summer member and loves the club where she has made new friends and new mentors through club staff. She is looking forward to summer camp, cheer-leading in the fall, and working with the Torch Club civic group.
Shawn came to the shelter in January of 2017 as a recently released felony inmate incarcerated 18 years at the age of 15. With no real job or life skills. Shawn stayed at the shelter for 9 months and was taught necessary life skills by staff and supervisors. The Salvation Army staff has also worked with Shawn on job-related skills. Shawn found employment with a felony friendly employer and also attained a second job. The shelter set up a prepaid savings account and after nine months he moved into his own apartment. As of January 2018, he was still employed and is attending secondary schooling to learn the trade of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.
A single mother came into the Lawton Food Bank for the emergency food program. During her visit, her children were immediately drawn to our reading area, "Nick's Nook." Her children happily read while she shopped for food. When it was time to go, the children reluctantly put the books back on the shelf. Staff told the children that the books in "Nick's Nook" were part of a partnership with the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma and their Success By 6 Program and that the children were free to take the books with them to have to read at home. As the children celebrated the mother began to cry. The mother told staff that this was a blessing because her financial situation did not allow for the added expense of books for her children. Her children now visit the Lawton Food Bank with her regularly to add to their home library.
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