Christmas is Busy Time for Catholic Charities

A Contributing Writer

FOOD PANTRY: Shelves at the Catholic Charities food pantry are stocked for easy distribution. Catholic Charities offers free food to about 13,000 households.

Tatyana Norborg for GTR Newspapers

“This time of the year, we have Christmas toy distribution and will give about 1,000 food baskets and toys to 300 families,” says Quentin Henley, associate director of Catholic Charities, located on 739 North Denver street in Tulsa.

Another Catholic Charities project is collecting coats for distribution. Yale Cleaners and TV Channel 6 provide support for the project that distributes about 10,000 coats.

Most Catholic Charities’ services are free. “We are amazed by peoples’ generosity,” says Henley. “Almost all funding comes from donations of Catholic and other communities. We have about 300 volunteers helping throughout the year.”

Catholic Charities offer free food and clothing. Every month they donate clothing to about 17,000 households and food to 13,000 households.

Catholic Charities have several buildings in different locations in Tulsa and other towns to hold the clothing and food as well as residential homes for programs that support individuals and families with special needs.

Families who need support to get back on their feet can live in St. Elizabeth Lodge. Seven families live there presently, but it can accommodate up to 12 families. Madonna House is a program for women in crisis. Most of the women living there are expecting. It has eight rooms with usually six or seven filled at a time. St. Joseph residency is for people infected with HIV. The residents of the St. Joseph home are provided with 24-hour care. There are currently 12 residents with a capacity of 13, and there is a waiting list.

Xavier Clinic is a free medical clinic supported by the Catholic Charities. It is a joint program with Saint Francis hospital. Doctors and nurses from the hospital volunteer their time to help people without health insurance. Patients can consult with therapists once a week, take pregnancy tests, and attend a once a month diabetic clinic.

Catholic Charities provided 1,400 hours of counseling for individuals and families, and helped families adopt 12 children through their adoption agency in 2004.

Marina Williams, a refugee resettlement and immigration coordinator of the Catholic Charities, works through an agreement made between the U.S. government and the Charities about financial, immigration and housing help for refugees from other countries. Williams told about incidences where she and Catholic Charities were able to help. Fifty-two welders from India came to Oklahoma to work for an American company. But the company violated their contracts. They were paid only $2.00 per hour, and the owners of the company held their passports and did not allow them to leave the factory. So Catholic Charities helped the welders fight for their rights and get permanent residency in the United States. “There are many people coming to the U.S. from the war zones.” Williams says. “For example, an Armenian refugee from Azerbaijan came here recently. When the military conflict in Nagorny Karabah between Azerbaijanians and Armenians started, she left everything to escape. She and her son arrived in the United States without a home, job or even passports. Catholic Charities helped them with everything. They got Social Security numbers and immigration papers so she could find a job. They lived in the St. Elizabeth lodge and the Catholic Charities paid for their utilities, food, clothing, transportation and health screening.” Williams is now helping the Indian welders to bring their families to the United States.

In addition, Catholic Charities also operate a social service in Sallisaw, Okla., and a Hispanic Helping Center in Tulsa, where all

Updated 12-18-2004

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