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Editorial: Workers braving dangerous weather to aid homeless people deserve award

Editorial: Workers braving dangerous weather to aid homeless people deserve award

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Housing Solutions

The City Council and Mayor G.T. Bynum on Monday honored the outreach workers who braved last month’s snowstorms and subzero weather to help homeless people find safe, warm shelter. City Councilors Lori Decter Wright, Kara Joy McKee, Jamye Fowler and Crista Patrick presented the outreach specialists with a proclamation recognizing their work at a ceremony at Housing Solutions. Pictured, from left, are Josh Sanders, Kyle Browning, Danger Geist, Alisha Fletcher, Caiti Dittmeier, Maria Tatum, Tyler Parette and Coemelita Melendez, all of Housing Solutions; and Shawn Kline, Jennifer Rivera, Amanda Pippen, Ashley Gunnells and Kyle Wagner, all of Mental Health Association Oklahoma. Not pictured are Sarah Grounds, Katie Gleason, Zak Bates and Elaina Fees of City Lights and Evan Dougoud of Mental Health Association Oklahoma.

As area temperatures dropped to deadly depths, a team of Tulsa workers hit the streets to save lives.

The sub-zero conditions coupled with ice and flurries at the end of February put the already vulnerable population of people who are homeless into serious danger.

About 40 homeless outreach workers and specialists braved the weather to find as many people possible and get them to shelter.

They represent the best of humanity, putting aside their own needs to ensure the safety of others. Their efforts brought 415 people into motel rooms, which were rented through donations from Tulsans.

Tulsa city councilors recognized their life-saving actions by declaring Friday “Homeless Outreach Workers Day” and presenting a key to the city to Tyler Parette for coordinating the response.

Other workers with Housing Solutions, Mental Health Association Oklahoma and City Lights were also recognized by city leaders.

This isn’t a one-and-done emergency effort. It is a start to getting hundreds of people into permanent housing.

Tulsa has a tradition of groups coordinating efforts to reduce homelessness in the city; the latest natural disaster highlighted how well that works.

The city two years ago developed a long-term affordable housing plan with a goal of making homelessness “rare, brief and nonrecurring.” The plan has specific actions from prevention through housing supports.

The emergency gave outreach workers a chance to connect with most of this population within a few days. It helped build trust to work on individual stable housing plans.

This could only be accomplished through the generosity of Tulsans, who gave more than $1.4 million for motel rooms and related costs. About $600,000 more is needed to secure permanent housing for those put into shelter during the storm.

We encourage all Tulsans to continue the financial support at housingsolutionstulsa.org.

The full hearts and hard work of people like the homeless outreach workers make Tulsa a special city with a reputation for philanthropy.

We join the city councilors in giving our thanks to the people who risked much to protect others.


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Best known to the public for his four years in Congress from eastern Oklahoma's 2nd District, Carson has legitimate academic credentials. He grew up in Jenks, earned his bachelor's degree at Baylor University with Phi Beta Kappa honors, attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. He is currently on the faculty at the University of Virginia, teaching courses in national security and the public sector.

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Shrum is a public college and Oklahoma higher education success story, the editorial says. A native of Coweta, she did undergraduate work at Connor State College, Northeastern State University and the University of Arkansas. She earned her medical degree at OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. She also has completed executive leadership and management training programs at Harvard University and Stanford University.

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