LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - After youth services of Stephens County closed their doors, OJA looked for immediate solutions.
They began hosting meetings with community members, and decided to ask Marie Detty to take over the OJA services in Duncan.
The Clinical Director for Marie Detty said the move to Duncan started slow, but things sped up after they received feedback from the OJA community meetings, and could choose their focus areas.
“The main needs that we heard at those meetings were mentorship and substance abuse treatment, and those are the two areas that we are focusing on," said Linda Griffith-Lambert, the Marie Detty Clinical Director.
Immediately after that OJA meeting, they hired two mentors in Duncan.
One mentor said it didn’t take long to learn how emotionally challenging this job would be.
“It’s been pretty eye opening, but hopeful because there’s a lot of people willing to help, bit it’s definitely hard to see the kids in dire straits, and coming out of certain situations,” said youth mentor Clayton Wright.
Wright said that when the services stopped last year, many of these kids lost people they depended on.
Now in his first month, he said he’s just learning how to build relationships from scratch.
“Especially with some of the circumstances they are coming out of, you have to get past the awkward of not knowing each other, build that rapport, and try and make this a place they will open up to,” said Wright.
Griffith- Lambert said the other big community need taken from the meetings is still a work in progress.
“We are working on getting our substance abuse program going. We’ve started in LAwton, and as soon as we are able, we will open the satellite office in Duncan,” said Griffith-Lambert.
Wright said that he had no idea these services ever existed, or knew how many families needed them.
Now, he said as the organization expands, they want the community awareness to expand with it.
“We want to be able to be a face of the community, and let people know we are here to help. We want to have the biggest footprint possible in Stephens County,” said Wright.
While Marie Detty has taken over OJA services for now, they haven't been chosen as the permanent solution.
OJA can decide to keep Marie Detty, or open up another Youth Services agency in Duncan.
The final decision will be based on feedback from community members.
Right now, there’s no timeline for when that decision will be made, but the options will be discussed at OJA meeting on Tuesday in Comanche.