Kay County churches come together for "CarePortal" to help those in need

February 15, 2024

Church leaders across Kay County, including several from Blackwell churches, met in Ponca City earlier this month to celebrate the launch of CarePortal.

This new umbrella will allow area churches to better provide for families in need with two gatherings scheduled for February 22 at the Northeast Baptist Church in Ponca City and the Immanuel Baptist Church here in Blackwell at 2 p.m.

Registration can be completed at 111project.org or by contacting the churches.

Over 55 people, ranging from Oklahoma Human Service social workers and pastors across Kay County, gathered in the recreation building at Marland’s Place to celebrate the launching of CarePortal – a fast and effective way for agency partners to connect with local churches and community members around the needs of children and families they serve, according to Chelsea Weeks, press relations for CarePortal.

“The church cares,” 111Project Executive Director Chris Campbell said. “The community cares. It's just sometimes we don't have those connections to get together and CarePortal is helpful to bridge that gap.”

CarePortal provides an array of opportunities for the local church and community to serve families in crisis across the whole spectrum, whether that’s in preventing the removal of children, supporting foster families or reunifying families.

“All across the board there are diverse opportunities to engage,” Western Director Kristin Langrehr said. “There’s a way we can all step in.”

Kay County has 96 children in foster care as of Jan. 1, according to monthly numbers released by the OKDHS.

“Can we, church, wrap around 96 kids in our county?” Langrehr said.

Churches enrolled on CarePortal for the initial launch include Immanuel Baptist in Blackwell, House of Prayer in Blackwell, Blackwell Methodist, Braman Community Church, Northeast Baptist, Oak Grove Baptist Church in Kaw City, Glad Tidings and Newpoint Church.

111Project is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission to mobilize the local church so every child has family. The organization's initial goal is to mobilize 1,000 churches across Oklahoma that can serve at least one family a month on CarePortal and recruit and support a foster family every year.

If 1,000 out of the 6,200 churches in Oklahoma commit to recruit and support one foster family a year, and serve one family a month on CarePortal, the state will move closer to having more than enough help for children and families in crisis.

“God is described as a father to the fatherless,” Melton said. “His heart is for people.” Melton said he’s the grandfather to children who were adopted out of fostercare.

“As a church leader, we're saying to you today that we want to make sure that we’re loving as Christ loves you,” he said. “We want to come alongside you and partner with you so on those difficult days, you’re not alone. We're committed to come alongside and help you carry this burden as we should have been this whole time.”

A promise that was upheld only 20 minutes later as Melton and Nellie Jackn with House of Prayer in Blackwell committed to meeting the first CarePortal request of cleaning supplies.

“In the midst of these challenging times, a resilient family of three teenagers – aged 14, 9, and

13 – finds themselves navigating the heartbreaking journey of their mother's terminal illness,” the CarePortal request stated. “The weight of caregiving responsibilities makes it increasingly difficult to attend to the simplest needs, like purchasing essential cleaning supplies. Adding to their struggles, the vacuum has recently broken.”

By committing to meeting this need, Northeast Baptist Church and House of Prayer in Blackwell helped strengthen this family.

OKDHS District Director Karol Daniel said she’s so grateful that CarePortal is being launched in Kay County.

"This program is the best way to connect what is needed with the people that want to help,” she said.

Community Gatherings are scheduled at noon Feb. 22 at Northeast Baptist Church in Ponca City and 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Blackwell. Visit the 111Project event page to register for the events here.

CarePortal has opened doors for meaningful support from churches to families in need throughout the state. Any churches or individuals interested in learning more or getting involved can visit 111project.org.