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New vehicle drives HOPE and healing for TANF customer fleeing abusive relationship

OKDHS knows all too well how domestic violence can impact the lives of Oklahoma's children and families. In state fiscal year 2020, OKDHS found that over 5,200 children were exposed to domestic violence, representing nearly 25% of the agency’s substantiated child neglect investigations for that same time period.

Domestic violence is a complex issue, and there are often many barriers for victims to successfully escape the violence they and their families are facing, including access to resources, safety and support. For one OKDHS customer, who we will refer to as “Monica” to protect her confidentiality and safety, the services and extra support received through OKDHS provided a pathway to a new life for her family.

After successfully fleeing an abusive relationship that required leaving all her belongings behind, Monica found herself and her two children in a women’s shelter with little resources to make ends meet for their family. She reached out to OKDHS to find services that could help get her back on her feet and stabilize her family, and quickly got engaged in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

The TANF program provides families with federally-funded, time-limited cash assistance. OKDHS collaborates with Oklahoma Works and a network of business and industry leaders and other state agencies to connect people with employment opportunities and promote self-sufficiency through work readiness skills offered by community colleges and career technology centers. However, in addition to the services provided by OKDHS, Monica also now had an extended support system of OKDHS staff who could help her navigate the resources available in her own community. Even with a revitalized sense of HOPE, she could not imagine the transformative gift waiting for her in an OKDHS parking lot.

TANF supervisor, Lindsey Yandell recognized the struggles this young mom was facing and knew she could find more ways to help the family. A former SNAP customer had recently reached out to one of Lindsey’s team members who had helped his family through hard times. He was so appreciative of the temporary, but impactful support his family had received, and offered an anonymous donation of a car to pay it forward to another customer in need. Lindsey knew this vehicle could literally change Monica’s life.

“When we found out about the vehicle and verified we could make this happen, we were so excited to be a part of this amazing gift,” said Yandell, OKDHS TANF Supervisor. “We knew Monica was spending extra time away from her children due to the lengthy wait times for public transportation. She was also walking to the grocery store and missing doctor's appointments for her children. We knew this would be a life-changing gift for her and her family.”

After Lindsey completed some discussions with local leadership and TANF program manager, Paulette Kendrick, to ensure a smooth transfer of the vehicle, the surprise was set. The day before the transfer, local staff member Kristy Glass met with the former SNAP customer to receive the vehicle. Not only was he donating this vehicle to help Monica, but he put on four new tires and had a complete inspection performed so Monica would know this vehicle was safe and ready for her family. Kristy helped him initiate the title transfer with a local notary, and Lindsey worked in the background to help Monica get transportation to the office the next day for the big surprise.

When Monica arrived at the OKDHS office with her two children, she found herself surrounded by the cheers and good wishes from the staff who had so fiercely advocated for her and her family. Though she had become accustomed to using public transportation to and from her TANF work training program, she found out that she would be heading back to her newly-acquired apartment in her very own car. With tears in her eyes - and in everyone else’s eyes for that matter - she spoke of how the services and support she received through OKDHS had helped her family find safety and the chance at a new beginning.

With her own transportation, Monica’s life was instantly made easier. She would once again be able to take her children to their counselor and other appointments, and even just do simple things, like take them to the park. With a shaky voice and bursts of tears, she expressed her thanks to the anonymous donor of her vehicle, a gift that would drive hope and healing for her family.

This past year has brought a lot of change for Monica and her family. With a lot of hard work and perseverance, she will also complete her education in November and is excited for the future opportunities that will afford to her family.

“Every day, we have the opportunity to affect those we serve and provide hope to our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Jerome Prather, OKDHS County Director. “Whether it’s being available when someone calls, pushing through at the end of a long week to ensure a family has food for the weekend or doing the behind-the-scenes work that often gets taken for granted—all of these moments add up to help our clients see the possibility of better days ahead. I am so proud of our team and the amazing work they do to provide the things that perch on our souls.”

OKDHS would like to thank the anonymous donor of Monica’s vehicle, and all of the individuals and organizations in communities across the state who have raised their hands in support of our families. We could not do this work without you.

Roughly one in four Oklahoma women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime. The OKDHS Domestic Violence Council works with community partners and other state agencies to raise awareness about domestic violence and to ensure that OKDHS staff have adequate training to understand the effects of domestic violence on our customers. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, help is available. Call the 24-hour Oklahoma SafeLine at 1-800-522-SAFE (7233) or visit

Last Modified on Nov 06, 2023
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