R.J. Livoni learned about Wings of Freedom, a faith-based sober living program, from a fellow inmate.
“I was into drugs real bad for most of my life, in and out of prison several times,” Livoni says. “The fourth time I went to prison I was here in Oklahoma, and my family, they were done with me, so I ended up going to Wings of Freedom, and it’s the best thing I ever did for myself.”
Livoni graduated from the six-month program in 2017 and now rents an apartment from Wings of Freedom.
“If you need a place to go and you’re trying to change your life, this is the place,” he says.
Dixie Pebworth started the Tulsa-based Wings of Freedom in 2001 after serving part of an 80-year prison sentence and then ministering in prisons. He says the program is designed to help clients stabilize their lives.
“It’s a hand up, not hand out,” he says. “We’re trying to teach people to fish. We don’t want to give them fish.”
Wings of Freedom, which has seen 1,100 graduates, includes Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-step program; Christian education; peer accountability; church services; and mentoring.
In July, the organization acquired the former America’s Value Inn at 10117 E. 11th St., which was once the Saratoga Motor Hotel, a Route 66 icon. The building will soon provide at least 100 efficiency apartments for clients in addition to the 107 housing units Wings of Freedom currently operates across four Tulsa apartment complexes.
Pebworth says the building renovation should take 8-12 months and will include remodeling and reopening the restaurant on the motel property. In the next 18 months, he hopes to open a culinary school to create jobs.
“It’s going to double our capacity, double our opportunities to help people,” Pebworth says of the former motel.
Wings of Freedom will host an alumni reunion and support banquet Oct. 22 to raise funds and introduce master plans for the renovation. Contact 918-584-8879 or visit facebook.com/wingsoffreedomtulsa.