News release - 3.8.19 - Tulsa leaders celebrated the one-year anniversary of A Better Way, which provides individuals experiencing homelessness an alternative to panhandling by offering participants a day’s wages to beautify the community while connecting them to essential services.
Inspired by a groundbreaking employment program in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mayor G.T. Bynum introduced A Better Way program to Tulsa.
“The Better Way program has far outpaced my original expectations,” Mayor Bynum said. “The participants in this program are making the choice to work instead of panhandle and I want to thank the many employers for their support of our participants. I’m proud to say our work in Tulsa is now a proven model and can be replicated throughout the country.”
For the past year, A Better Way has provided 802 individuals experiencing homelessness an alternative to panhandling and close to 22,000 pounds of trash has been collected from city parks and facilities.
A Better Way has secured full-time competitive employment for 66 individuals and contacted close to 250 employers. The program also helped 14 participants move from the streets into a safe place to live.
“I’ve witnessed the power of A Better Way first-hand and walked away inspired and excited about the more sustainable employment opportunities awaiting participants in the community,” Michael W. Brose, MSW, CEO of Mental Health Association Oklahoma said. “While serving the needs of our hard-working participants, I’m thrilled A Better Way is fulfilling a needed public service and supporting the community by serving employers and reducing the need for panhandling activities throughout our community.”
As part of the one-year celebration event, A Better Way Participants received a business style backpack containing items essential to successfully gaining employment, provided by Bank of America.
A Better Way Tulsa is made possible through a collaboration between the City of Tulsa, Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy (TARE), Mental Health Association Oklahoma, Tulsa Area United Way and the Maxine and Jack Zarrow Family Foundation.
About a Better Way
Through roving van outreach, A Better Way makes stops citywide in areas within Tulsa that are known for panhandling and homelessness. Three employees help operate the program: a van driver, employment specialist and service navigator.
The Tulsa Area United Way provided a Social Innovation Grant to fund an employment specialist for participants and during the workday, participants are connected to an array of services in the community, such as: shelter, housing, mental health and addiction treatment and other more sustainable employment services.
At the end of the work day, workers were paid $65 in cash and provided an opportunity to receive program support from the A Better Way staff. A service navigator linked participants to customize resources to address specific barriers to employment. The employment specialist worked with participants to develop employment opportunities.
The Better Way van is in operation three days a week. Mondays and Fridays are randomized pick-ups throughout the city, with the van starting its journey at 7 a.m. On Wednesdays, participants will meet at 8 a.m. under the Better Way sign at the Denver House, 252 W. 17th Pl.
For more information about A Better Way, visit: www.abetterwaytulsa.org or support A Better Way by texting “ABW” to 898211.