3 Amazing Women Who Care For Tulsa's Homeless Citizens
Sara Framel, Alyssa Boyd, Kendra Morgan work with three different nonprofits, each with a mission to end homelessness.
Sara Framel, Alyssa Boyd, Kendra Morgan
Framel remembers being in middle school and seeing a person her age passed out on the street and wondering where the kid’s parents were. “I learned that my great family and upbringing were simply luck of the draw, and that could have been me passed out on the street if I had been born into something different,” she says.
As outreach director of Youth Services of Tulsa, Framel helps youth like the one from this memory. She oversees runaway and homeless services: the youth shelter for ages 12-17; the transitions programs that offer case management, employment and education services and housing; street outreach services, which provide showers, hot meals, laundry and computers; and T-Town Tacos, a social enterprise program that partners with the local food bank.
“We joke that the more challenging youth are, the more we love them, which is kind of crazy, but most of the time, the most difficult youth are the ones everyone else has given up on,” Framel says. “We want to do our best to let them know that when you come to Youth Services, we’re not going to give up on you.”
As director of women’s ministry at John 3:16 Mission, Boyd says one of the most important facets of her job is “helping women find their self-worth.”
John 3:16 has offered the Refresh Day Program for women since 2007, but in June the mission launched the Renew Recovery Program, a one-year residential program for women who are homeless and under-resourced. Although John 3:16 has long offered a shelter for men, Renew is the organization’s first time offering overnight accommodations for women.
Boyd says the program “focuses on the whole person” and includes individual counseling sessions, Bible studies, work therapy and more. One of the women in the program who has history of addiction and abuse said to Boyd: “For the first time, I am realizing that people love me, and I can love people back.”
Growing up in Oklahoma, Morgan experienced homelessness with her mom and sister due to domestic violence and was later an unaccompanied homeless youth.
But, “my life didn’t stay stuck,” she says. “My life turned a corner, and I had the opportunity to reach back and give other people a helping hand.”
Morgan is executive director of Family Promise of Tulsa County, a multi-faith organization affiliated with National Family Promise. The organization, which began this summer and welcomed its first family into the program in July, works with local congregations to provide shelter, meals and support to homeless children and their families.
“Family homelessness, I think, goes unnoticed or unrecognized because it’s not often you see a family on a street corner or with a sign,” Morgan says. “They’re usually hidden — they’re couch surfing, they’re staying in their vehicles, they’re multi-house sharing, often in bad conditions.”