Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Catholic Charities Diocese of Tulsa

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Catholic Charities Diocese of Tulsa

Article excerpt

After 50 years of steadfast operations across eastern Oklahoma, Catholic Charities decided to consolidate nine north Tulsa sites into one central complex.

Two years ago it completed that move into a $22 million, 72,000- square-foot complex emulating a traditional Southwestern mission. While that 2450 N. Harvard Ave. complex upgraded the nonprofit's capabilities in a number of areas, paid for without government or United Way aid, the effort still drew some negative repercussions, from its target audience.

"We found that we really had to start over and begin to earn trust," said Executive Director Kevin M. Sartorius.

The new home helped accomplish that by banding together a wide variety of services under one set of linked roofs.

"Sometimes it seems a bit of a zoo, but other times I would say that it feels like a community, a little microcosm of a community," Sartorius said.

The assistance unit, where people in need often come first, may see 75 individuals a day, Director of Emergency Services David Hamel said. It averaged 57 families daily in April. Such numbers mushroom around major holidays, which may involve toy and food basket programs.

"We serve over 1,000 people on those days alone," Hamel said.

About 41,000 people were aided last year by Catholic Charities' food pantry, clothing warehouse and display center. A volunteer staff of 35 dentists and 98 hygienists help Catholic Charities' Blessed Mother Teresa Health Care Center provide free dental care for almost all patient needs.

"We're actually looking to expand," Hamel said. "We have a couple of more rooms here, so we're going to open those up so that we can have two more operatories. So we'll have five total."

With the financial aid of the George Kaiser Family Foundation and others, Hamel said the center provided $750,000 in work last year, operating five days a week plus Tuesday nights.

Catholic Charities' St. Elizabeth's Lodge provides eight two- bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom unit as rent-free transitional housing for homeless, rehabilitating or otherwise struggling families. Hamel said they have but one requirement, that one of the adults hold a working job. …

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