Menu Icon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

News Archives

Talking to Kids About Tragedy

Children don’t think exactly like adults. When discussing this week’s shooting at an Ohio high school, deadly severe storms or other tragedies with children, it’s important to take special care. Carrie Little, program coordinator/educator at Family & Children’s Services, has tips to help parents talk to their children about tragedy.





Need professional help in dealing with trauma in your child’s life? We can help. Click here to learn more about trauma treatment services at Family & Children’s Services.

New Ideas in Health Care Benefit Clients, Entire Community – By Dianne Hughes, Program Director, Case Management and Special Projects

We hear a lot these days about the poor state of health in Oklahoma as compared to the rest of the nation. Perhaps you’ve also heard the news that people diagnosed with a serious mental illness are at a higher risk of premature death. Earlier this month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Health Resources Services Administration Center for Integrated Health Solutions explained that these premature deaths are “largely due to complications from untreated, preventable chronic illnesses like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which are aggravated by poverty-driven health choices, like poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and smoking.”

We at Family & Children’s Services are acutely aware of this problem. Many of our clients don’t have a regular medical doctor. They use the emergency room for their health care or, sadly, forgo needed medical attention. Through a partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation and Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Family & Children’s Services took a bold step to help improve the health of our clients by opening a medical clinic in October 2011 inside the Sarah & John Graves Center.  

Currently, the clinic operates one day a week and is available for adults receiving mental health services from Family & Children’s Services. Clinic patients may also receive free medication as prescribed by a Morton medical provider. Patients receive treatment for colds and other minor complaints and serious, chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

So, can one day a week really help? By mid-February, 281 clients had been seen during the clinic’s 16 operating days. Over 70 percent of those served said they didn’t have a primary care physician and, instead, used to visit hospital emergency rooms for care. More than 20 percent didn’t seek care when sick. But now, these individuals have a resource for getting treatment and, just as important, managing their wellness.

The direct impact on our clients and their loved ones is evident. However, our community as a whole benefits, too, through less crowded emergency rooms and lower health care costs. 

Mental Illness Impacts 1 in 5 Americans, report shows

A new national report reveals that 45.9 million American adults aged 18 or older, or 20 percent of this age group, experienced mental illness in the past year. The rate of mental illness was more than twice as high among those aged 18 to 25 (29.9 percent) than among those aged 50 and older (14.3 percent). Adult women were also more likely than men to have experienced mental illness in the past year (23 percent versus 16.8 percent).


To read the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s full news release on the study, click here.

Fun & Free Time Together as a Family

Too often, parents find themselves caught in a game of “gimme” with their children – as in, “Gimme this, Mom.” or “Dad, can you gimme a new video game?” However, how much money you spend on your kids matters less than how much time you spend with them.

Tulsa World Blogger Natalie Mikles has some fantasic ideas for spending time together as a family free or on the cheap. We have a few other suggestions:

Have a board game night. Younger children can be paired up with older kids or parents. Reading game cards reinforces language skills, and moving the pawn and handling money helps with mathematics.

Channel Scheherezade, the fabled Persian storyteller. She told a story that lasted 1,001 nights, ending each night’s session on a suspenseful note. Let every member of the family have an opportunity to tell part of the story you create together.

Go dancing without the stars. Turn on some music and cut a rug on your own rug. It’s a great way to get some exercise and is likely to leave everyone giggling.

Stage your own “Chopped” challenge. Set out an array of motley ingredients, start a timer and tell your little chef to create a culinary masterpiece. Plan to be on hand to help younger children with cutting and any cooking required, but let their creativity guide the final product.



Do Your Part — By Carrie Little, Family Life Education Program Coordinator

“He isn’t even trying anymore.”

“She doesn’t care.”


Sound familiar?  If so, you are not alone.  Many couples go through times when one or both feel that they are the only one “working” on the relationship.  It becomes frustrating to reflect on your relationship and see only those things that you do to make your relationship work.  It can become a habit to focus only on those things that your partner ISN’T doing.  When this habit forms it is likely that other bad habits form in its wake, including bouts of escalation when trying to discuss issues with your partner, or starting sentences that begin with, “You never… ” or “You always… .”

Especially if you have children together, it is important to find ways of relating to one another without damaging your closeness.  One way to begin this process is called “Do Your Part.”  This concept relies greatly on your ability to look closely at your thoughts and actions to bring about change in your relationship.  In other words, in every situation, find a way to do the best you can.  Whether that be choosing not to yell and scream, or choosing to do something nice for your partner even in times of irritation. 

This does not mean you can change your relationship on your own.  It takes two to make a relationship work over time.  However, if both you and your partner begin a daily practice of “Do Your Part,” the need for each to focus on the other’s bad behavior will cease.  This involves trust.  You have to trust that your partner is doing everything he or she can to make your relationship and family life work, and vice versa.  This also involves a lot of respect and kindness, both toward yourself and your partner.

“Do Your Part” can change the tone of your relationship.  You will begin to process events in a different way.  Instead of automatically going toward the one thing your partner did wrong, you will be thinking in “I” statements instead.  Like, “What could I have done to make that conversation better?”  or, “What could I do today to make my relationship stronger?” 


If you would like to learn more about “Do Your Part,” and other concepts and skills to make your relationship strong, Family & Children’s Services offers a free class called Forever. For Real. In this class, couples learn together the skills needed to create a lasting and loving partnership.

Calling All Retailers: Clear Your Racks!

Family & Children’s Services is asking local retailers to clear their racks. The agency’s popular warehouse sale fundraising event is just around the corner – and merchandise is needed!

F&CS will host its ninth annual Abersons & Friends Warehouse Sale on March 28-30, 2012, at its central office, 650 S. Peoria Avenue. Proceeds of the sale will help F&CS provide counseling, treatment and support services to children who’ve been abused, families in crisis and individuals faced with overwhelming problems or mental illness.

Local merchants can support the effort by donating unsold stock – including home décor, housewares; women’s, men’s and children’s clothing; accessories and more – to F&CS. The agency will coordinate pick up from stores. Participating merchants may take a tax deduction for any items they donate, will be listed in promotional materials and – best of all! – will have more room on their racks to display the latest spring merchandise. 

Nearly 35 stores and hundreds of bargain-loving shoppers participated in last year’s Abersons & Friends Warehouse Sale. To get more information or schedule a pick up date, contact Rochelle Dowdell, the F&CS special events coordinator, at 918.560.1115 or

Homelessness in Tulsa an evolving problem

Gary Pino Homelessness Story 2015 1

Gary Pino, previously chronically homeless, poses for a photo outside his new apartment. Through its Homeless and Diversion Services, F&CS connected him with housing, paired him with a case worker and is helping him get his Social Security reinstated.


Someone stole his tent while he was in jail, but that doesn’t matter now

Today, Gary Pino is getting treatment and doesn’t need a tent – because he has a home for the first time in decades and treatment to recover.

After decades of homelessness, Pino moved in to a Mental Health Association of Oklahoma apartment in June with the help of his case manager, Homeless Outreach Team member Allison Owens at Family & Children’s Services Salvation Army location, 102 N. Denver Ave.

“They’ve also been helping me with bus tokens to get to my appointments at the other Family & Children’s Services locations, get my medicines refilled and make my doctors’ appointments,” Pino said.

As the mercury climbs this summer, Pino said he’s glad to be in his apartment’s air conditioning and out of that tent, anyway, tucked behind a large shopping center.

He’s also happy to be where meals are provided well away from the critters (“those raccoons were fat,” he exclaimed). He’ll be able to stay in the apartments as long as he wishes for free, and as long as he abides by the apartments’ rules.

Kaitlin Foster

Kaitlin Foster, clinical director, Homeless and Diversion Services, Family & Children’s Services

Kaitlin Foster, clinical director of Family & Children’s Services homeless and diversion programs, said Pino’s story is typical of the area’s chronically homeless.

Housing and Urban Development, which administers numerous programs to fight the problem, defines chronic homelessness as having been homeless for one year or more at a time. About 89 of the 716 homeless counted by social service professionals in January 2015 said they were chronically homeless. Of those 716, 115 had been homeless five years or more, up from 40 in 2011.

Most have been to jail or prison (58.1 percent in 2015), and most (59 percent) have been traumatized in some fashion, and more than 83 percent of them said that event was affecting them today.

“If you have a drug charge, that severely limits your housing options,” Foster said. “Obviously, there’s been an increase in substance abuse throughout the state. That’s just an ongoing problem. People are getting caught now. Once they get that drug charge, their hopes of housing are pretty dim – unless they have enough income to just pay flat out, and most don’t. It’s nearly impossible to live on Social Security if you’re not in some type of subsidized housing.”

A Way Home for Tulsa, local arm of a national effort to provide housing for the homeless, of which F&CS is a partner, aims to eliminate chronic homelessness in Tulsa by Dec. 31 2016.

The effort kicked off in June, and Tulsa is one of 75 cities participating. F&CS, a nonprofit community health center that helps one in six Tulsans, is providing mental health resources in the collaboration, joined by 23 other community service organizations, including Restore Hope and Community Service Council.

Pino came to F&CS after he was arrested at a Tulsa gas station. He began a treatment plan to address his mental illness and help get him off the street. His new apartment affords him prepared meals, and he can be around others who’re making the same strides toward recovery.

F&CS is also helping him get his Social Security reinstated by connecting him with Legal Aid. He has a cellphone now and is working to get his driver’s license back while attending his therapy sessions and staying up on his medication.

“Family and Children’s Services, they do a great job,” Pino said.

Bama CEO meets with potential WIR employers

WIR Womens Council July 2015 2

Bama Companies CEO Paula Marshall hosted Tulsa area manufacturers and nonprofits at our Women in Recovery program last Wednesday, one of several she has hosted to encourage more employers to hire program graduates.

Joining her were Amber Hatten, HR Director, Webco Industries; Bret Baker, COO, Pro Recruiters; Phil Albert, President, Pelco Structural; Isaac Rocha, Community Relations & Development Officer, Bama Companies; Laurie Graves, People Systems Director, Bama Companies; Shannan Drummond, General Manger, Pratt Industries; Richard Haldeman, President and CEO, Southwestern Regional Medical Center at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

We’d like to thank each of our attendees for their time, and encourage them to join other satisfied employers who’ve hired our graduates. Utmost thanks goes to Marshall for organizing the event.

Also in attendance were representatives from Tulsa Technology Center, Workforce Tulsa, Resonance, Tulsa Reentry and Goodwill Industries.

For more information on hiring WIR graduates, go to

Oklahoma Department of Human Services lauds F&CS child support program

Claudia Arthrell Child Support Services Award

Claudia Arthrell, F&CS senior director of professional services, holds F&CS’ award from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Monday honoring the agency for its work for DHS’ Child Support Services’ division, helping parents navigate the child support system while also providing access to classes, resources and other services in the area.

TULSA, Okla. – The Oklahoma Department of Human Services honored Family & Children’s Services this week with a State Coordinator’s Award for its efforts helping parents stay connected to their children after divorce or an ended relationship.

DHS praised F&CS’ Parent Connections program, which F&CS contracts with DHS to provide, as the model for the state, crediting it with numerous advancements among its Child Support Services clients in the Tulsa area.

“This is a huge honor for our hardworking employees in Parent Connections,” said Claudia Arthrell, F&CS senior director of professional services, who oversees the program.

Parent Connections staff help clients with visitation plans, reducing arguing with the other parent, improving parent-child relationships and locating services.

F&CS is expanding the Child Support Services portion of the program, which served 570 people in Tulsa County in 2014, to include Creek and Rogers counties.

Parent Connections also offers parenting classes through F&CS’ central office, 650 S. Peoria Ave., in helping children cope with divorce, cooperative parenting and divorce, active parenting for step families, and surviving conflict.

For more information, go to, or contact F&CS Chief Communications and Development Officer Melanie Henry at 918-560-1128.


About Family & Children’s Services

For 90 years, Family & Children’s Services has been the place to turn for help with problems that seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle alone. The agency restores children’s well-being, heals victims of abuse, strengthens individuals and families, and provides hope and recovery for adults suffering from mental illness and addictions. Today, its life-changing services help one in six Tulsans.

Family & Children’s Services is a partner agency of the Tulsa Area United Way. F&CS is also a member of the following national organizations: Mental Health Corporations of America and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. F&CS is certified with distinction as a community mental health center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. F&CS is also certified with distinction as a Community Mental Health Center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Additionally, F&CS is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as an Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and certified with distinction as a Gambling Treatment Program.

5 ways you can volunteer in the Tulsa area

Ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels?

You know the feeling. At the end of the day, it’s the feeling like you’re just going through the motions. Each bit of free time you have is just time in between stints at work, time filled with TV, Netflix binges or hours spent online.

It leaves you feeling empty and numb. There’s a solution.

Volunteer in your community today.

Research has shown that doing good does you good. Altruism – unselfish concern for the welfare of others – improves emotional well-being and physical health while lessening stress.

It doesn’t have to be volunteering. It can be just doing something nice for someone. But, best of all, it’s free.

Family & Children’s Services volunteer needs are typically met by its employees. But here’s a list of some interesting volunteer opportunities in the Tulsa area, all of which are a great way to make a difference locally.


Community Action Project of Tulsa

The largest anti-poverty agency in Oklahoma focuses on helping Tulsa families become economically self-sufficient, its website states. The organization is accepting volunteers for clerical work, Tuesday tales, events and landscaping, among others.


Domestic Violence Intervention Services

DVIS is the only nonprofit agency in the Tulsa area providing proving comprehensive intervention and prevention services to fight domestic violence. Volunteers work in everything from office duties and shelter assistance to court and hospital advocacy for survivors.


Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless

Tulsa’s 24,000 square-foot homeless shelter provides area homeless services including a health clinic, case managers, computers and other resources to help overcome homelessness in the area, its website states. Volunteers work the front desk, shower desk, clothing room and kitchen, among other areas.


Youth Services of Tulsa

This nonprofit for at-risk youth began as part of an effort to prevent delinquency before blossoming into services including counseling, suicide prevention, Tulsa Youth Court and programs for youth in foster care, among others. Volunteers are needed for mentoring youth and manning Safe Place locations throughout the area.


The Parent Child Center of Tulsa

The Parent Child Center of Tulsa fights domestic abuse in the Tulsa area through parent, child and community education, protecting at risk children through support services, and healing victims through treatment and other services. For a list of its volunteer needs, go here.

For more volunteer opportunities in the Tulsa area, check out the community partners section of our website.



Matt Elliott
Social and traditional media producer
Family & Children’s Services

F&CS’ Women in Recovery, incarceration alternatives discussed on MSNBC during Obama visit

Women in Recovery and, more importantly, alternatives to incarceration, got some increased air time last week thanks to President Obama’s stay in Oklahoma.

In the below clip, Ziva Branstetter, Tulsa-based investigative journalist and editor-in-chief of the Frontier, mentions Women in Recovery during an on-air interview with MSNBC’s Jose Diaz Balart as part of the network’s coverage of Obama’s visit to the federal prison in El Reno.

Women in Recovery is an intensive outpatient alternative to incarceration for those facing long prison sentences because of non-violent, drug-related offenses. WIR organizers work with the criminal justice system and others to give its women the supervision they need, along with substance abuse counseling, mental health treatment, education, workforce training and family reunification to ensure they break the cycle of re-offending.
For more information on Women and Recovery, go to
About Family & Children’s Services
For 90 years, Family & Children’s Services has been the place to turn for help with problems that seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle alone. The agency restores children’s well-being, heals victims of abuse, strengthens individuals and families, and provides hope and recovery for adults suffering from mental illness and addictions. Today, its life-changing services help one in six Tulsans.Family & Children’s Services is a partner agency of the Tulsa Area United Way. F&CS is also a member of the following national organizations: Mental Health Corporations of America and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. F&CS is certified with distinction as a community mental health center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. F&CS is also certified with distinction as a Community Mental Health Center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Additionally, F&CS is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as an Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and certified with distinction as a Gambling Treatment Program.

Former Chicago police officer helps crime victims in Broken Arrow

Barbara Jones VOCA BAPD

Barbara Jones, Family & Children’s Services victim of crime advocate, Broken Arrow Police Department

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Victims of crime in Broken Arrow have an advocate in their corner, and she’s a former police officer dedicated to help victims get the help and services they need.

Barbara Jones, Family & Children’s Services’ victims of crime advocate embedded at the Police Department’s justice complex at 1101 N. Sixth St., brings a savvy to her job born and bred on the streets of Chicago’s Southside, but one also laced with the empathy and understanding only parenthood can produce.

“I think we all have something different in us that we’re either attracted to or is attractive to us,” said Jones, of her desire to help victims.

Jones’ law enforcement career began in Chicago, where she patrolled the Gresham neighborhood bordering one of the worst areas for crime in the country, the city’s Englewood district. She spent eight years in the Windy City, and the experience was an eye-opening one for her.

“I didn’t know people fought in their homes,” Jones said. “My parents argued, but they didn’t fight. So i had never seen any of that. Just going in to homes as a patrol officer, seeing the injuries and how people were responding to it.”

She felt helpless in a way. Cops can respond and take immediate action in such situations, but they often never get to go back and check up on people they help.

“You always wonder, ‘What are they doing now? Did she really move out? Did they really take the kid?’ That kind of thing. I think that was the beginning of this kind of job for me.”

She and her late husband, Albert, had adopted a 2-year-old boy, and the couple was looking for a better area to raise him. They settled on Broken Arrow where she joined the force in 1998. After a year on patrol, she became an investigator in domestic violence and child crimes, and later worked as a school resource officer.

“I just really like the way that they approach law enforcement here,” Jones said. “It’s kind of holistic if you can think of it like that … They just really try to assess the needs of the family.”

But the long hours away from home and late night calls proved to be too trying with her son at home, so she resigned to home school him. She wouldn’t return until 2013, when a colleague at BAPD called about the victims of crime advocate position that was open.

While being a detective was a dream realized, she thought then her entire life had prepared her for the position. She could interface with police officers, a population she understood and knew, and victims, a population she wanted to help, especially parents going through things with which she could identify. She applied and got it.

F&CS had a contract with the city to provide an advocate to connect crime victims to services and resources in the area, everything from getting protective orders and counseling to attending court with victims and driving a sexual assault victim to an appointment with a S.A.N.E. nurse – just about anything else to help victims navigate the legal system to a good outcome. The position is funded through money from the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council.

Jones took the job in September 2013, and her husband died the following January. Dealing with that  loss helps her connect victims with grief counseling. One thing she’s learned: nearly all of the people needing counseling have had some type of traumatic event in their past that is causing them issues today.

“Somebody died when they were seven. Somebody divorced. Somebody gave them up. Somebody left. Somebody committed suicide. Just all of those things … But there’s hope because get better.”

F&CS’ VOCA program has helped 2,840 people since it began in 2012, with numbers for 2015 still in the works.

She hopes to go on ride-alongs with police to provide even more help to victims. But the biggest thing about her job that she loves, she said, is the fact that she gets to support people trying to affect change in their lives, whether that’s making them safer or get someone causing trouble off the streets.

F&CS Care Card nears merchant deadline

Care Card Logo_Heart Only

TULSA, Okla. – The deadline for Tulsa merchants to participate in Family & Children’s Services Care Card is July 31.

Care Card, which shoppers can buy online or in stores, gives cardholders up to 20 percent off at participating retailers. The promotion runs from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8. Customers can buy the cards in stores during that time, but online sales end Oct. 16.

“It is a win-win,” said F&CS Development Director Susan McCalman. “Twenty-percent off for ten days, and it drives customers to stores they’ve never been to before. And most of all, it helps Family & Children’s Services continue to help the one in six Tulsans we serve every year.”

Care Card has raised more than $1 million for F&CS’ life-changing programs since its inception in 1999. Merchants can register at

With no upfront cost, Care Card benefits merchants by listing them in a shopping directory more than 2,000 shoppers receive. Merchants also get web and social media exposure, as well as advertising in the Tulsa World and TulsaPeople listing all the participants.

The benefits don’t stop there. In addition to new customers, Care Card merchants also help keep shoppers’ money local.

“Care Card is a win-win situation,” said Rebecca Joskey, owner of Urban Furnishings, 2312 E. Admiral Blvd. “I’m so happy to co-brand with Family and Children’s Services.”

Merchants already participating include Bruce G. Weber, Hicks Brunson Eyewear, Muse Intimates, On a Whim, The Silver Needle, SR Hughes, Mary Murray’s Flowers, Island Nation, John Daniel Footwear and Susan Sadler Fine Jewelry Design

Care Card is presented by sponsor Don Thornton Automotive.

See the Care Card link above for more information. Follow Care Card on Twitter at @FCS_CareCard and on Facebook at



About Family & Children’s Services

For 90 years, Family & Children’s Services has been the place to turn for help with problems that seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle alone. The agency restores children’s well-being, heals victims of abuse, strengthens individuals and families, and provides hope and recovery for adults suffering from mental illness and addictions. Today, its life-changing services help one in six Tulsans.

Family & Children’s Services is a partner agency of the Tulsa Area United Way. F&CS is also a member of the following national organizations: Mental Health Corporations of America and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. F&CS is certified with distinction as a community mental health center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. F&CS is also certified with distinction as a Community Mental Health Center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Additionally, F&CS is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as an Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and certified with distinction as a Gambling Treatment Program.

F&CS Women in Recovery wins top state health award

Family & Children’s Services Women in Recovery has won the Dr. Rodney L. Huey Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health, the highest honor of the Champions of Health awards given out each year by a large group of state health organizations.

Congratulations to all Women in Recovery staff, including Mimi Tarrasch, executive senior program director.

As part of the award, WIR will receive a $15,000 grant presented Sept. 29 at the 2015 Champions of Health gala at the Cox Business Center. National Baseball Hall of Famer and Oklahoman Johnny Bench will be the keynote speaker.

Founded in 2004, the Champions of Health awards have honored organizations and individuals making a difference in the health of Oklahomans.

Among the presenters of the award are the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma State Medical Association, Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians and the Oklahoma Dental Association, in partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

Tickets are available at 855.628.8642.

How to kick the summertime blues




Sun’s out. School’s out. Birds are singing. You’re not feeling it.

Despite that it may seem improbable for the time of year, a few people get depressed each summer.

Seasonal affective disorder is known to affect people more commonly in winter (estimated to be as many as 4 to 6 percent) – the result of cold days, long nights and fluctuating hormone levels. While it is less common in the summer, it does exist, mental health professionals report.

Symptoms of it are pretty broad – including loss of appetite, weight loss and lack of sleep. There are a number of ways to avoid it, from changing your diet and exercising moderately to seeking therapy.

Far be it from us to refute the wisdom of Eddie Cochran. But even if you don’t have seasonal affective disorder, the easiest way to shake off the summer blahs is to get outside and be in the world.

Follow these tips for an exciting and fun summer in Oklahoma. Note they also don’t cost much money.

Things to do in Tulsa
For a list of cool things to do on the cheap in Tulsa, check out this article in the Tulsa World.

The list includes the First Friday Art Crawl in the Brady Arts District in which art galleries and museums open for artists and music from 6-9 p.m. the first Friday of each month.

It also mentions Second Saturdays at Philbrook Museum of Art the second Saturday of every month. Admission to the museum is free. The museum has a number of works by world-class artists from all over the world, and its gardens are known for their beauty throughout the region.

Also in the World article is a “self-guided art deco tours in downtown Tulsa” and “Jam Nights at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame” every Tuesday night at 5 S. Boston Ave.

If you’re not interested in the self-guided tour, a $10 tour guided by the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture can be found here. Tours take place the second Saturday of each month. Children 12 and under are free.

Another fun kid-friendly activity is the Tulsa Rock, Mineral, Fossil and Jewelry Show, July 11-12, at Tulsa’s Central Park Hall in Expo Square. Tickets are only $6, and kids 12 and under are free. The show includes rare gems, fossils, beads, minerals, crystals and a fluorescent room.

Read more below for other fun activities.

D.A.M. Jam Bicycle Tour

This late summer, family-friendly bike ride is popular among Northeast Oklahoma riders of all shapes and skill and equipment levels.

With tours of 31, 55, 71 and 101 miles, there’s something for every rider looking to enjoy the verdant, gentle foothills of the Ozarks with the safety of strident race support, well-paved routes and stops all along the routes.

Each route passes within riding distance of Lake Hudson. The ride starts Sept. 5 in Pryor and ends at the same location with the Dam J.A.M. Party in the Park with music and food.

Black Mesa Hiking and Birding

The highest point in Oklahoma is also among its most visually arresting.

A 400-mile drive from the Tulsa area to Kenton, this trip is best reserved for a long weekend, but it nevertheless rewards its adventurers with a sweeping mesa vistas, incredible bird watching, petroglyphs and fossilized dinosaur footprints.

For the more adventurous, there’s a trail to the summit of Black Mesa here, an 8.4-mile hike that’s traversable by most relatively fit folks, provided they come equipped with water and food. The hike rewards its finishers with views into New Mexico and Colorado.

Picturesque Oklahoma Swimming Holes

Anyone who grew up in rural Oklahoma remembers spending time at least one of these swimming areas. Be sure you check for flooding-related closures before you travel, however, as record rains have caused flooding in some areas.

Check out these other ideas from TravelOK:

Kid-friendly state parks

Wild buffalo


Happy couple in park

What else? See your local town’s events page for things to do in the area. TravelOK may have a listing for your town, too. Most cities have things going on outside that’ll get you outdoors at cooler times in the day, letting you meet and interact with others, in addition to spending more time in your town.

Summer’s long days give plenty of extra daylight to do fun, easy things in the yard that can leave you feeling rewarded and engaged.

Gardening is known to have a number of benefits on the psyche. Oklahoma’s fertile soil and warm climate are great for a number of flowers – not to mention that vegetable garden like your grandma used to have.

How long has it been since you’ve been to your local library?

Checking out books to read is free, and most of all, you don’t have to hold on to that book after you’re finished with it, so there’s no worry about more things cluttering up your shelves.

If you have pets, just taking them on a walk around your neighborhood can help break the blues, in addition to help get your furry pals some exercise.



Other resources:



Matt Elliott
Social and traditional media producer
Family & Children’s Services

Problem gambling similar to substance addiction



Gambling is big business in Oklahoma, generating about $3.8 billion in revenue in the state in 2014.

Oklahoma has a lottery, three horse tracks, 115 Indian casinos and more than 64,000 electronic gaming machines. Plus, due to technological advances, gambling has spread online and to smartphones. Games such as Candy Crush are known to have gambling-like effects on users’ brains.

Thousands of Oklahomans gamble without suffering any ill effects. But an unlucky few risk becoming problem gamblers.

Of those, there are two basic types: action gamblers, who love the act of gambling, and escape gamblers, those who gamble to “zone out,” said Ashley Whitmire, a therapist at Family & Children’s Services.

The latter are more common in Oklahoma, where the National Center for Problem Gambling estimates that 2.2 percent of adults – more than 63,000 – are problem gamblers (for comparison, substance abuse disorders are more common, but command a disproportionately larger portion of public health resources).

“We’re really seeing people trying to avoid or escape things going on in their lives,” Whitmire said. “And the casino is the way for them to do that.”

In fact, problem gambling is increasingly thought of in the mental health community as a disorder similar to drug and alcohol addiction. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which mental health professionals use for diagnoses and treatments, treats it as such.

In gambling, gains and near losses release huge amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure, in gamblers’ brains. This is broadly similar to how other addictive behaviors, such as cocaine use, affect users’ brains.

Similarities to drug addiction don’t end there. Many report lying to relatives and loved ones to hide how much they spend, how much time they spend gambling, et cetera. Over time, they gamble with more money, finding they can’t stop.

And like many addictive, destructive behaviors, at their roots lies trauma, Whitmire said.

“They’re trying to avoid some kind of emotional pain,” Whitmire said. “That’s what the behavior is that we see. That can be one of several ways that they have of avoiding, dissociating.”

Whitmire and her colleague at F&CS, Jeremy Jenkins, see new patients every week, referred by other F&CS professionals working with those clients.

In addition to trauma, their patients often suffer from crippling depression and anxiety. A few have bipolar disorder.

Jenkins’ and Whitmire’s goal as therapists is to help patients realize what’s at the root of their gambling problem. Once patients realize it, they can address it and recover.

“That usually opens the door for comments like, ‘Well, I like [gambling] because it helps me de-stress.’ I’ll ask, ‘What are you stressed about? Why is there a need to de-stress in the first place?’ Then, they’ll say, ‘That’s because I zone out,’ or ‘I can’t deal with stress.’ When you explore that further and develop their trust, they may tell you about some of the trauma that happened. But first and foremost, it’s important to let them know you’re there to support them and build that trust.”

shutterstock_283345538Whitmire said some describe their casino experience like that of a relationship. Casino personnel bring them drinks. They’ll park gamblers’ cars. They’ll give gamblers vouchers for buffets or a free nights at an attached hotel.

“It’s like a grieving process to help them go, ‘Yeah, but is this the healthiest relationship?’” Whitmire said.

Other similarities to drug addiction abound. Another client reported burning through $10,000 of Social Security back pay. Another lost their job severance pay. Some take on second mortgages or payday loans. Many lose relationships with spouses and other loved ones.

Another commonality with drug addiction is problem gamblers attempt suicide more than those who aren’t. But they also do so at a much higher rate than others suffering from addictive disorders, the NCPG reports.

“We’re here in America. (Money) is just such a part of our culture,” Jenkins said. “We compare ourselves based on income and money … And I think the pernicious thing about gambling is, there’s no saturation point. You’re going to overdose at some point on a drug. And that’s going to be a kind of automatic stop gap for you. With gambling, you can get in as much debt as people are willing to lend you. And I think they just feel there’s no way out, so suicide becomes an option.”

Whitmire and Jenkins also do community outreach, in addition to providing therapy. They’ve visited pawn shops, churches and banks to distribute resources such as brochures and other items on gambling disorder.

Research shows people living within 50 miles of a casino are twice as likely to become problem gamblers as those who live outside that radius, and casinos can now be found in every corner of Oklahoma, Jenkins noted.

The cards are stacked against problem gamblers. People don’t need cocaine or marijuana to live, Jenkins noted, but they do need money. Just having money in hand can be a trigger for problem gamblers. Just going to pay their rent can trigger their addiction.

“The more you understand, the more it helps you being compassionate, and you can educate their friends and family, and the client, too,” Jenkins said.

Whitmire and Jenkins completed their gambling treatment certification training a year ago. Previously, F&CS had just one gambling counselor. They have been extremely busy since, seeing 64 clients since September 2014.

“This is really an issue for people,” Whitmire said.


Problem gambling symptoms

  • Gambling with increasing amounts of money
  • Feeling restless or irritable when not gambling
  • Being unable to stop or limit gambling
  • Feeling preoccupied with gambling
  • Gambling to escape stress or cope
  • Returning to make up losses
  • Lying about time and money spent gambling
  • Depending on others for money due to losses



Get help
Family & Children’s Services
Gambling and substance abuse treatment

National Center for Problem Gambling
Voice and text helpline

Other resources:
Myths and facts about gambling addiction


Matt Elliott
Social and traditional media producerFamily & Children’s Services