Staff and Volunteers participate in Poverty Simulation Training

Earlier this month, many of our staff and volunteers took part in a “Poverty Simulation Training” put on by the OSU Extension Center. Participants took on Acknowledgment roles of various family groups and had to provide for them over the course of a month, (made of 15 minute “weeks.”) As unexpected expenses added to the stress of paying for utilities and groceries, many of our families found themselves having to prioritize which bills to pay, struggling to provide the weekly groceries, or even having to seek shelter when they were unable to make the rent. The walkthrough simulation was an important reminder about how many variables can hinder a family from escaping poverty, even when helping organizations are there to assist. Child care, unexpected illness, and transportation difficulties were just some of the situations that compounded into greater frustrations and stresses as each family tried to provide for themselves.

Lorena, who works with us as a Translator in our Immigration Legal Services, said of her participation, “I felt so stressed out being a college student and having a part time job, having a 1yr old son, and not having enough money to pay for child care…”

Another staff member shared her own real life experience, saying, “I was in a very bad situation when my husband lost his job, with 3 children, 2 of them teenagers.” While she was able to get through that hard time with the help of family and friends, many clients don’t have a network of friends or families with the power to help.

MaryLynn Lufkin, Director of Eastern Oklahoma Outreach reflected on the training and said, “I took away from this activity a new realization of what our clients go through…this simulation reminded me that there are many circumstances that people who are in poverty and struggling have to deal with on a daily basis.  They have issues with not having transportation, low paying jobs, or no jobs, no family support, health issues, time constraints, not having enough money to take care of their families’ needs,  having to wait in long lines, and a host of other problems. This causes a lot of frustration, feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, failure, stress and anger.  Many are downtrodden when they come to our Centers and campuses for help.

With all this in mind, try to show a little more love, because that might be the only bright spot in someone’s whole day.  Try to help them in a timely manner, because they probably have time constraints and need to get somewhere else to get their families’ needs taken care of.  Please treat them as if they were your own family member – and that can help us go the extra mile.  We really are blessed in our various roles, because we have opportunities every day to actually be Christ’s merciful love to those who suffer.”

Grieving mother heartbroken over broken urn

Recently, a distraught young woman came to Catholic Charities for food and clothing assistance. When she shared her story, it was revealed that her child died shortly after birth. The infant’s remains were cremated and placed in an urn gifted to her from the hospital. Later, the child’s father became angry and damaged the urn. When the woman shared this story and the hurt could be seen in her eyes, Catholic Charities was pleased to be able to supply her with a brand new vessel to hold the remains of her beloved child. We thank all those who support Catholic Charities as we strive to be Christ’s merciful love to those who suffer. Your donations, time, and prayers are what help us provide way more love, hope, and help to our clients when they are in need. Our prayers go out to this young woman and all grieving parents.

Sallisaw client receives wheelchair as fast as a golf cart!

Meet Harvey. He’s been a client of our Sallisaw Helping Center for a long time. Last year, he had to have his leg amputated, and our Catholic Charities helping center was able to connect him with a wonderful woman, Belinda, who volunteers with us. Belinda is a great resource in helping clients with equipment for disabilities. She helped Harvey with his first wheelchair last year, and a men’s group built him a ramp.

Recently, his wheelchair became too worn out to be of use. Belinda worked with the Mid-America Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans to secure Harvey a brand new, motorized wheelchair. It goes as fast as a golf cart, turns on a dime, has lights front and back, and a horn!  The seat reclines forwards and backwards and will lie all the way down, if needed.  It’s ‘finger-tip’ controls allow Harvey to drive with ease. He does not have any transportation, so a wheelchair is a must. Upon receiving it, Harvey said, “‘Thank you so much, this is far out!”

We depend so much on the generosity of our Eastern Oklahoma community and fellow helping organizations to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in need. Thanks to all who donate to Catholic Charities, those who volunteer at any of our helping locations, and those who get to know and advocate for our clients to help them receive the assistance they need.

Learn more about Eastern Oklahoma Outreach.

Poteau woman helped with hearing aids

LindaWe met Linda last fall through our Poteau Helping Center. She desperately needed hearing aids, but did not know where to look. After working with her to research several leads and writing referral letters, we found a place that could help her. She finally received a set of wonderful hearing aids! We were so excited for her.

We ran into Linda recently, and she was thrilled at how well she can hear these days. She thanked us very much! We love what we are able to accomplish for our brothers and sisters in need when our generous Eastern Oklahoma community comes together through Catholic Charities and other helping organizations.

Learn more about our Eastern Oklahoma Outreach.

“On days like this you truly realize that you are working for the Lord.”

BeckyBecky, who is currently serving as guardian of three grandchildren, was out of money for rent while waiting for her HUD house to become available. Catholic Charities Poteau Helping Center was able to assist Becky and the children with an interim place to live. In response, Becky broke into tears and turned to say to her grandchildren, “Look kids, Jesus just helped us!”

It is through the love and generosity of our Eastern Oklahoma community that we are able to work toward our mission to be Christ’s merciful love to those who suffer.

MaryLynn Lufkin, Director of Eastern Oklahoma Outreach said, “On days like this you truly realize that you are working for the Lord.”

Learn more about our Eastern Oklahoma Outreach Centers

Learn more about Emergency Assistance on the Tulsa campus

Retreat community comes together to help Catholic Charities volunteer

Jo Ann80 year-old longtime Catholic Charities volunteer, Jo Ann, is a recent convert to the Catholic faith who attends the Church of the Madelene in Tulsa. She is recently widowed, and lives on a very tight budget.

Jo Ann recently revealed to those with whom she volunteers that her hot water heater had stopped working. She had contacted the utility company to reignite the pilot light, but they said the tank was extremely corroded and unsafe to light. She would need a new water heater.

On her limited budget, Jo Ann could’t pay for the water heater, and concluded she’d do without hot water.  In addition to this, she was two months behind on her “almost paid-off” home mortgage.

Her friends at Catholic Charities knew that her situation wasn’t something that could be solved with our resources, so they reached out to women with whom she had attended an ACTS retreat. ACTS stands for Adoration, Community, Theology, Service. We were blessed at Catholic Charities to have a front row seat to the community and service demonstrated by this retreat community as they worked to help their friend in need.

Jo Ann’s retreat sisters collected donations to help her catch up on mortgage payments and purchase a hot water heater. Two retreat team members brought the situation to the attention of their husbands, Calvin and George, from St. Joseph in Bristow. These two men delivered and installed the water tank in Jo Ann’s home for her at no charge.

What a wonderful team effort with the women’s ACTS team of Saint Benedict and the Knights of Columbus-Saint Joseph, Bristow. We love to witness others coming together to help our brothers and sisters in need.

Traveling through the storm to a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat

Traveling through the storm to a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat: a reflection by Mary Lee Weaver

StormLast night, dark somber clouds filled the evening sky and resulted in strong winds and rain.  In Eastern Oklahoma, that can mean hail, trees being blown down and perhaps a tornado. For some, the storm is like the winds of anguish felt inside after an abortion.   Then there is an invitation and they hear the offer to attend a retreat for healing….and wonder, “Could I make it? Could I really attend a retreat after all of these years and deal with all of this?”  It’s an invitation and reminder of what God has to offer and how He will provide everything needed to get through this storm. “Will I simply trust Him?”

On each retreat, God brings those whom He has been calling. He lovingly touches each wound and embraces each person as they discover their voice and often share what no ears have heard before.  Some have been away from the Church and their faith, and others have been hiding their pain in secret in the pews.  With sharing and tears, each woman and man will find a transforming and radiant light and peace. They will see new hope. The storms after abortion have driven them to the retreat, complete with hail and winds of anger, pain, or regret, that have been carried inside for so long.  At the retreat, this is left behind as forgiveness of self begins. The winds calm and the radiant light shines through.

-Mary Lee Weaver, Coordinator of Healing after Abortion Services

The next Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for healing after abortion is September 29 through October 1. Register now:  or contact Mary Lee: 918-508-7142,