LAWTON, OK (KSWO) –The Marie Detty Youth and Family Services Center is gearing up to celebrate a big birthday.
The center has been providing counseling and shelter to battered and abused men, women and children in the Lawton area for 45 years. Their birthday celebration will give the community a chance to make sure they can provide that help for years to come.
The organization was founded in 1971 by a social worker who wanted to do more to help kids in the community, so she opened the first ever youth services center in Comanche County. For 45 years, the social worker's self-titled organization Marie Detty has grown and now offers programs and services for first-time offenders, domestic and sexual assault victims and youth intervention programs.
Dianne Owens, the executive director of Marie Detty, shared a scrap book that showcased many of the wonderful things the organization has done for the community throughout the decades.
"The community had no services for young people. When they would pick up an adolescent, they would actually house the juvenile in jail, which really was against the law. So, we wanted some place for temporary time out for kids and temporary detention. It initially opened up as a detention center," Owens explained.
However, the detention center turned into a group home through the years, which is still used today and located on Southwest 17th Street.
Owens says counseling is the cornerstone for all their shelters and programs, because many people come to them battered inside and out.
"We have taken them to the hospital. Some of them have broken bones and we make sure they get the correct medical treatment," Owens said.
Owens says programs like these in the community actually provide hope in life-or-death situations because many of their clients are trying to escape an abuser.
"In the women's shelter, we would have a mother with five or six kids that decided now that she had enough and she's not going to go back. They can stay at the shelter for three to six months, if necessary, to gain employment and gain housing," Owens explained.
Counselors say for those who leave Marie Detty, they often return to share the positive changes they've made in their lives.
"They come back to actually thank the staff," Owens said.
With five different sites, Marie Detty helps more than 5,000 families and youth across Comanche County each year.
The center is among several Lawton agencies struggling with the state budget cuts, so next week's fundraising dinner is more important than ever. It's called 'All that Jazz' and it will be held Feb. 20 at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Tickets are $45 for an individual, $75 for a couple or $500 for a table. The entertainment includes a jazz saxophonist and a silent auction. Tickets are available at the center on Southwest 'C' Avenue in Lawton.