Pathway of Hope Comes to Tulsa
By: Brooke Turbyfill
This is part of the series featuring the USA Southern Territory’s implementation of the national initiative, Pathway of Hope, which aims to help families escape homelessness permanently.
When Arletta Robinson heard about Pathway of Hope, it hadn’t even been released nationally yet. Robinson, social services director at the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Center of Hope, heard about it in 2014 at the social services conference in Florida, understanding it was being done only in the Central Territory. Yet she knew the Tulsa Center of Hope would be an ideal fit for it.
After hearing about the push nationally and learning that the USA Southern Territory had chosen Tulsa as one of its initial 11 pilot launch sites, Robinson – along with Majors James and April Taylor, area and associate area commander, and Tara Ricketson, one of four Pathway of Hope case managers – said the team was very excited.
While not completely dedicated just to Pathway of Hope, the four caseworkers who work with POH clients in Tulsa understand how unique their funding sources and setup in Tulsa are. Because of some other programs, the Tulsa Center of Hope was able to wrap POH alongside some other housing opportunities with funds being pulled from HUD supportive housing grant, Rapid Rehousing, Pathway of Hope and matching funds from an independent foundation. These funding sources, combined with the fact that the Tulsa Center of Hope is housed in a building alongside Morton Clinic and Family and Children’s Services, a mental health facility for all ages, makes for a creative and collaborative base for clients enrolled in Pathway of Hope.
Just like with any POH site, clients are interviewed and assessed to make sure they qualify and are a good fit; they’re transferred in from other programs such as the Supportive Housing Program and a network of four Tulsa area shelters that work alongside The Salvation Army with referrals; and, as a family, they have to be willing to attend life skills classes, work and go through the process with a case manager so that recidivism rates are reduced and sustainable housing is reached.
The Austin family is one such example; they came to the Center of Hope at a time when most are considering how grateful they are for the blessings in their lives. Around Thanksgiving 2014, dad Raphael had lost his job, his wife was sick and they had four young children. He felt hopeless to support his family, even though as a trained cook, Raphael was willing to work.
Case manager Kelley Maricle told Raphael about an open position in the Center of Hope kitchen and he was soon working again. It turned out that his wife’s illness was a sign of new beginnings – they were expecting their fifth child. After being accepted into the Supportive Housing Program and being eligible for an apartment in the Center of Hope’s SHP tower, they moved towards gaining self-sufficiency. Part of that process was applying for the Pathway of Hope initiative and setting up an achievable but realistic case management program that included learning about budgeting, how to appeal if their credit history showed false debts, how to balance a checkbook and set and follow a budget. They even learned ways to cook that would save them money at the grocery store.
Their older children, Syesha and Samaria, took part in the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club summer day camp last summer and even after their newest child, Jeremiah, was born, POH connected them with Emergency Infant Services to help them with supplies they needed.
Since August 2015, wife and mother Kamilah has been working at a local childcare center and they’ve been renting a home with the help of Pathway of Hope. They’re on their way to long-term self-sufficiency and POH has 15 other families currently enrolled alongside them.