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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 rdowdell@fcsok.org.

Family & Children’s Services Welcomes Students From Israel

Family & Children’s Services along with OU-Tulsa welcomed students from Israel this week during a lunch at Women In Recovery.   Staff from F&CS and OU-Tulsa hosted students and faculty from the Haruv Institute, Hebrew University, Israel’s leading authority on child abuse and neglect.  Students participated in a four- day exchange study program discussing topics and services related to child maltreatment. The Haruv Institute, established by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and OU-Tulsa have formed an international student exchange program. The students visited various community agencies, and traveled to Tahlequah , Oklahoma City, and Norman. The visit allowed students and faculty to discuss, compare and study issues of child abuse and neglect in each other’s countries as well as services, solutions and practices to address these problems.

To learn more about our child abuse services, click HERE.

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Help Support F&CS – CareCard 2014

Family & Children’s Services kicked off the CareCard 2014 season with a merchant event on October 16th. Many of the 200 merchants offering discounts via CareCard were on hand to celebrate the 16th year of the fundraiser. CEO Gail Lapidus was proud to announce that CareCard has raised one million dollars for the agency over the years. News On 6 Anchor, Terry Hood had the pleasure of once again emceeing this year’s kick off at Utica Square.

Click HERE to learn more about the event and CareCard.

Click HERE to purchase your CareCard.

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Photo: F&CS Associate Director of Development Rochelle Dowdell, News On 6 Anchor Terry Hood, F&CS Director od Development Susan McCalman

F&CS CrisisCare Center Turns One!

The F&CS CrisisCare Center has been open for one year! Read about the life-changing services offered at the CrisisCare Center in the Tulsa World by clicking HERE.

The Family & Children’s Services CrisisCare Center provides critically-needed psychiatric beds and new, innovative crisis respite services 24 hours a day. Services include:

  • Screening, Triage and Assessment unit
  • Crisis Respite unit (Up to 24 hours)
  • Crisis Stabilization unit (3-5 days)
  • COPES Mobile Crisis Response

CrisisCare Center

1055 S. Houston Ave. West

Tulsa, OK  74127

918.744.4800

 

 

Fall Harvest & Festival to Benefit F&CS

Justin Thompson Restaurants & the McNellie’s group are joining forces to bring our communities, farmers and families together by hosting a fun filled event for all, in celebration of the arrival of Fall on Sunday, October 12. The Fall Harvest Festival and Feast is an all day event located in downtown Tulsa at the corner of 3rd & Elgin, right outside of Juniper Restaurant & Martini Lounge and Fassler Hall.  The festival will offer multiple contests, activities, and food & beverages for members of our community, of all ages, to enjoy.From 10 am to 4 pm, families and friends are invited to come and celebrate the beginning of our favorite time of year with fun filled kid friendly activities such as Pumpkin Painting, Pony Carousel, Petting Zoo, Face Painting and a Moon Bounce, all free!

In addition to the kid’s corner, the festival will include live music, contests with prizes, trophies and gift certificates to all of the Justin Thompson Restaurants and the McNellie’s Group Restaurants.  Some of our favorite local farmers will be on site selling their freshly harvested and hand made goods, including a pumpkin patch so you can get the fall decorations done while enjoying time with family and friends.

Marshall Brewery will be on hand in our Beer Garden pouring a special brew made just for the Fall Harvest Festival & Feast. Food stations will be selling some of Fassler and Juniper’s favorite festival snacks and goodies too!

As the family friendly activities wind down, the Fall Harvest Festival & Feast will feature a wine and beer tasting from 4 pm – 6 pm.  And as night falls on our city, we invite you to join us for a Feast out under the stars.  The chefs of Justin Thompson Restaurant Group will present a wine dinner with fall favorites like Braised Short Ribs, Butternut Squash, Kale Salad, Roasted Cauliflower, Spicy Mac & Cheese, and of course, Juniper’s famous Cobbler!

The daytime Festival is free to enter.

Beer & Wine tasting – $20 per person or free with purchase of a wine dinner ticket

The Fall Harvest Wine Dinner – $100 per person (all taxes and gratuity included)

CLICK HERE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

This event will benefit Family & Children’s Services of Tulsa.  Bring a canned good or lightly used coat for our clothing drive and take home a grocery tote bag with our logo.  All canned goods and coats will go to families and children in the Tulsa area in need of your contributions.

Tulsa County’s New Integrated Domestic Violence Court Enhances Domestic Violence Victim Safety

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Family & Children’s Services is proud to announce a brand new program dedicated to combating domestic violence in our community.  Victoria Lowe, F&CS Case Manager, explains this new program called Tulsa County Integrated Domestic Violence Court (“Tulsa County IDV Court” or “IDV Court”).

Q: Why did the program begin?

A: The program was created for Tulsa County District Court to assess its current approaches to domestic violence cases.   Through a collaborative effort with its stakeholders, the Court will focus first on misdemeanor domestic violence cases between intimate partners as well as any related protective order cases.  The hallmark of the program is systematic judicial monitoring of DV offenders in partnership with local agencies and providers.

Q: Is this new to Tulsa or a continuation of partner efforts?

A: The IDV Court is a new program to Tulsa pursuant to a grant awarded in 2013 from the U.S. Department of Justice,  Office of Violence Against Women.

Q: Who are our partners?

A: Partners of the IDV Court are Family & Children’s Services, Family Safety Center, and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department.  The Planning and Development Team includes those listed above as well as  to the Tulsa County District Attorney, Tulsa County Public Defender, DVIS, Tulsa Police Department and a member of the private defense bar.

Q: Who is on staff for the program?

A: I [Victoria Lowe] was hired as the IDV Court Case Manager and began the position on September 22, 2014.  My responsibilities include collecting data for tracking and reporting purposes to improve case accountability, monitoring offender compliance of court orders, and providing background information to the judge about DV cases.

Q: Where will your office be located?

A: At the Tulsa County Courthouse in Suite 607.

Q: What is the program goal and a little more information about what you will be doing?

A: The Tulsa County IDV Court will operate as a specialized part of the Tulsa County District Court.  The IDV Court is dedicated to the idea of streamlined processes for victims, offender accountability, and due process for all litigants.  The IDV Court was designed to enhance victim safety through case consolidation of eligible cases and case coordination.  The IDV Court’s objectives are to:

  • Promote informed judicial decision making by obtaining comprehensive and up to date information on all issues involving the offender and family
  • Promote victim safety through the elimination of conflicting orders and diligent monitoring of offender compliance with court orders
  • Encourage a coordinated response and greater collaboration among criminal justice, child welfare agencies, and community-based groups who offer assistance and/or services to DV victims.

Learn more about protective orders HERE.

Learn about warning signs of Domestic Violence and what you can do to help yourself or a friend HERE.

DV Ribbon

Suicide Prevention Month: Fact vs Fiction

The recent high profile death of Robin Williams may have thrust suicide and depression into the forefront, but the reality is that the calls for help occur each day. September is Suicide Prevention Month and to help separate suicide fact from fiction, we turned to Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services (COPES) Program Director Amanda Bradley for answers.

 

What is COPES and how does COPES work with the CrisisCare Center?

Family & Children’s Services provides 24/7 crisis support and stabilization services customized to individual needs.

COPES, Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services, is a telephone and mobile crisis service that responds around the clock to children and adults experiencing a severe emotional or behavioral disturbance or psychiatric emergency.

CrisisCare Center provides critically-needed psychiatric beds and new, innovative crisis respite services 24 hours a day.

If you are in crisis call 918.744.4800.

- See more at: http://www.fcsok.org/services/crisiscare-center-2/#sthash.2gPT7TPZ.dpuf

COPES, Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services, is a telephone and mobile crisis service that responds around the clock to children and adults experiencing a severe emotional or behavioral disturbance or psychiatric emergency.

CrisisCare Center provides critically-needed psychiatric beds and new, innovative crisis respite services 24 hours a day.

- See more at: http://www.fcsok.org/services/crisiscare-center-2/#sthash.2gPT7TPZ.dpuf

COPES, Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services, is a telephone and mobile crisis service that responds around the clock to children and adults experiencing a severe emotional or behavioral disturbance or psychiatric emergency.

CrisisCare Center provides critically-needed psychiatric beds and new, innovative crisis respite services 24 hours a day.

- See more at: http://www.fcsok.org/services/crisiscare-center-2/#sthash.2gPT7TPZ.dpuf

COPES is a 24/7  telephone and mobile crisis service that responds around the clock to children and adults experiencing a severe emotional or behavioral disturbance or psychiatric emergency.  COPES rapid response can save lives and keeps those in crisis safe. Last month alone, COPES received 586 calls.

To address the critical need for psychiatric beds and new, innovative crisis respite services, Family & Children’s Services opened the CrisisCare Center, 1055 South Houston Avenue West, in October 2013. Adults who are experiencing emergency psychiatric needs may can receive short-term crisis stabilization in a safe, secure environment.

If you, your loved one or someone you know is in distress, we are here to help. Just call 918.744.4800.

 

According to the Tulsa Police Department, to date this year, Tulsa has recorded 24 homicides compared to 58 suicides. The new Zero Suicide Initiative hopes to dramatically change this statistic. Can you explain what is and tell us if zero suicides is attainable.

To answer your last question first, yes. I do believe zero suicides is achievable. Now, Family & Children’s Services is partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) to implement the Zero Suicide Initiative. This new model of care includes a shift in perspective from thinking that suicide is inevitable to every suicide is preventable.

 

I thought that once a person decided to commit suicide, nothing could reverse that decision.

Many people mistakenly believe that is the case, but we have proven time and time again that we can prevent suicide. We talk about being safe for now. We immediately address the issue of getting them through this day and that’s instilling the hope that tomorrow will be better. Helping them understand that there will be ups and downs, that this is not a simple, quick fix, but we can help them discover the one thing they can do to make this a little bit better. We figure out what is the one thing is you can do right now to make things brighter that will keep you safe for now.

 

Why is it that suicide often catches many of the people closest to the individual off guard? You often hear, “He seems to being do so well- like he had turned a corner. I didn’t see this coming.”

If you aren’t trained to see the signs you would just think that the person has turned the corner and is doing better. Many people don’t want to question the dramatic change in behavior because they think “Today was a good day. Why would I question it and take him back to a bad place?”  What we must consider is why is it now so dramatically different- what has changed? The reality is that, often, the decision has been made and the individual is at peace with it. In fact, you will even see someone who has made the decision to commit suicide actually be very forward thinking and finishing things, such as paying bills.  It’s called “The Amazing Reversal”.

 

Is it true more people commit suicide around the holidays than any other time of year?

In Tulsa and nationwide, statistics prove the opposite to be true. November and December are the months that traditionally have the fewest number of suicide.  We know that during the holidays people have support systems and they stabilize, to a degree. It doesn’t mean the problems go away, it just means that during the holidays, families help quiet them.

 

I’m not a trained professional, but am worried that someone I know is really in a dark place. How can I help?

People think that asking the question, “Are you thinking about suicide?” will introduce the idea. That is simply not the case. It is important to ask that question and be prepared to follow through with resources when the answer is “yes”. You can remember QPR. It stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. Ask the question, persuade the individual to give information and then refer to the correct resources. Our suicide helpline is answered 24/7 and that number is 918.744.4800.

Also, Family & Children’s Services offers free training for the public. I really encourage churches, schools, businesses and community organizations to take advantage of this resource and become familiar with QPR. Once you have a better understanding of the signs and how to apply QPR, it’s not as scary. For more information, contact 918.587.9471.

 

Tell us about the ripple effect of suicide. 

Suicide’s ripple effect is far-reaching. Figure that the number of people intimately affected by a suicide is six and then multiply that and the circle of impact grows and gets wider and wider. You have to understand the suicide becomes a piece of the fabric that the person is made of and it impacts their life forever.

 

Let’s talk about hope…

Right now as we talk, the COPES team is working 30 cases. That’s 30 people we are talking to, visiting, following up with and 30 people we are helping right now. I believe in what we get to do. It’s truly a gift to get to walk through the darkest times with these individuals and help them, connect them with the resources that keep them alive.

World Suicide Prevention Candlelighting 9.10.2014

COPES and CrisisCare Center employees stand in support of the Zero Suicide Initiative.

 

 

Family & Children’s Services is the place to call

when you feel lost, lonely, trapped or have no one else to turn to for help.

918.744.4800

 

Day of Caring Makes a Difference in Tulsa

Family & Children’s Services was a flurry of activity on Friday, September 5th as nearly 100 volunteers participated in the 23rd annual Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW) Day of Caring. CEO Gail Lapidus welcomed enthusiastic volunteers from seven area companies by introducing them to Family & Children’s Services and explaining how the nearly 90 year old agency  works to heal traumatized and hurting children, strengthen individuals and families and provide hope and recovery for those battling mental illness and addiction.

“I am reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill who said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ On behalf of the more than 100,000 people we serve each year, I thank you,” said Lapidus.

The TAUW Day of Caring introduces community volunteers to TAUW partner agencies. Across the Tulsa area, a record 5,500 volunteers worked on more than 400 projects across the Tulsa area. “We are grateful for this tremendous response, making Tulsa’s Day of Caring one of the largest in the nation,” said Mark R. Graham, President and CEO. “I can’t think of a more visible example of our community’s philanthropic spirit hard at work.”

Family & Children’s Services volunteers completed a host of projects including; maintenance and beautification of agency grounds, facilities and vehicles, teaching clients basic sewing techniques, putting together agency intake folders and collateral, and helping with upcoming fundraising events such as Card Card Tulsa. In just one day, the volunteers worked a total of 375 hours. “The work that these volunteers do each and every year is vital to our operations,” said Carrie Little, Community Relations Manager. “Volunteers provide support that would take staff days to complete and they do so with smiles and generous hearts.”

AstraZeneca employees Lisa Davis and Sheldon Jackson teamed up to assemble hundreds Care Card signs which will be distributed to participating merchants in October. Davis learned about Family & Children’s Services and our mission when she worked as a nurse and referred patients to our services. “That’s when I gained a firm understanding of how your services impact the community,” said Davis. In addition to volunteering for Day of Caring, she also regularly donates clothes and other household items to Family & Children’s Services. Jackson explained that AstraZeneca employees love to volunteer and get their hands dirty. “It’s easy to give money, but harder to give time,” said Jackson. He believes that giving a little something can make a big difference. A theory proved correct on Day of Caring.

Family & Children’s Services Participating Day of Caring Companies

  • AstraZeneca
  • City of Tulsa
  • Pennwell
  • Tulsa Community College
  • Schnake Turnbo and Frank
  • Williams

Learn more about the Tulsa Area United Way 2014 record-setting goal of $26,200,000 which is the largest goal in its 90-year history.

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Photo: Carrie Little, Sheldon Jackson, and Lisa Davis

Remembering Herb Fritz

Statement from Family & Children’s Services CEO, Gail Lapidus

 

“Tulsa lost one of its finest architects yesterday with the passing of Herb Fritz, Fritz Bailey Architects.

His friends at Family & Children’s Services mourn his loss as longtime agency friend, supporter and architect of four Family & Children’s Services facilities, many award-winning.

 

He uniquely guided the architectural process, knowing that buildings can be much more than just bricks and mortar, but healing spaces that evoke good feelings and inspire hope.

Thousands of Tulsans who have walked through the doors of Family & Children’s Services seeking help have been positively impacted by Herb’s talent for thoughtful, purposeful and therapeutic design.

 

Fitzgerald Funeral Service will be handling the arrangements and updates will be posted on their website www.fitzgeraldivychapel.com.

Please join Family & Children’s Services as we offer our condolences to the Herb Fritz family.”

 

 

F&CS Strives For Excellence in Services

Recently, staff at Family & Children’s Services received this note from a client.

“I have been coming to Family & Children’s since 2009. The slogan is “life-changing,” and the services really are. Everyone, not just some people, who I have met over the years has been nice and warm. I don’t know how Family & Children’s chooses their employees, or what kind of interview questions they ask, but they’re doing something right. Everyone I’ve talked to has been nice, even the people up front behind the glass at every office. I don’t do well with people who act ugly due to my abuse in the past. If people treat me ugly, I won’t come back for the services I need. At F&CS I can feel that everyone from their heart wants to help me.”

Family & Children’s Services offers 49 programs and serves 1 in 6 Tulsans.  We routinely conduct client surveys to determine our level of client satisfaction. We are proud to report that when clients are surveyed, 95% of respondents rate our services as excellent or good.

If you are in need of our services, please do not hesitate to call us. We will serve you with the utmost dignity and compassion.

Learn more about our 49 Programs by clicking HERE.

Request an appointment by clicking HERE.

 

Kids Who Care: 7th Grader’s WIR Project

In less than a month, Olivia Butkin will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah. Mitzvah is a Hebrew word that means an act of kindness or a good deed. As her Mitzvah project, Olivia is supporting the Women in Recovery (WIR) program — a successful, cost-effective alternative to incarceration for nonviolent female offenders. WIR embraces the belief that family reunification, despite hardship and substance abuse, is attainable.

When asked “Why WIR?”, the well-spoken and well-informed 7th grader said, “When you learn about the numbers and the data, it’s more than you imagine.” According to the U.S Department of Justice, Oklahoma leads the nation in incarcerated women per capita with more than 2,600 women in prison. Seventy-five percent of the women in prison are serving time for nonviolent offenses, primarily drug-related infractions. Olivia also learned that more than 7,000 Oklahoma children have a mother in prison.

One woman who could have been included in these shocking statistics is Leslie. The mother of two was facing 21 years to life in prison for endeavoring to manufacture meth, but rather than serving time in prison, she was accepted into WIR. She credits the program with bringing her family back together and changing her life. “Without WIR, it would not have been possible for me to get full custody of my children after fighting for them for 17 months. My oldest son excels in math, my youngest son helps me cook and has won awards in school for helping and star behavior. We are a happy, healthy bonded family and my kids will be a success in life.”

Olivia’s project will provide backpacks for the children of mothers who are participating in the program. These backpacks, filled with age appropriate books, games and interactive activities, will give mom and child materials to supplement their special time together during visits.

Often, when the mothers first get to visit with their children, they don’t have games, toys or books for the children. For Leslie, the WIR backpacks are a blessing. “The kids were so excited to have something to play with and knew it was specially picked out for boys their age. The boys felt proud carrying the backpacks,” she said.

When asked how she thinks the backpacks help the families Olivia said, “I think it means growing a relationship with people they know they are related to by blood, but might not feel emotionally related to or connected to yet. So, I feel like that’s really helping them connect, and I think that’s really important.”

Leslie says the contents inside the backpacks opened up new possibilities for her family. “It had been a while since we had been able to play together and it made our time together special. It helped me put into practice everything I was learning about how to communicate with the boys, understand their feelings, play together and bond and taught us all more about each other and how to be a family. ”

To date, Olivia has spent dozens of hours on this project and collected more than $5,000 in donations. She said, “I’m very lucky to have what I have, so it’s important to give back to others.”  Calling Olivia’s efforts “impressive” and Leslie hopes the 12-year-old will understand the impact she is making. “She is making a difference for our families. I would tell Olivia that she has taken on such a major role for improving lives, has a big heart and such dedication to children.”

 

WIR Olivia Backpacks

To learn more about Family & Children’s Services 49 programs and how you may get involved, please contact Susan McCalman, Director of Development, at 918-560-1119 or email smccalman@fcsok.org.