OKLAHOMA - An Oklahoma woman is on a mission inspired by a message at church and her own child’s birthday.
"She does this every lunch break,” Stephanie Smith said. “ Every time off work."
Stephanie Smith and other coworkers of Natalie Kinsey take notice.
"Every minute of every day is trying to help others,” Smith said. “Then she found out about these kids who are in the shelter not by their choice or their mother's choice. They're in a rough situation."
It is a situation Natalie has never been in herself.
For her, seeing what some women and children go through is eye opening, and it has opened her heart, as well.
"She felt the need that these kids needed some kind of normalcy in their life,” Smith said.
Often women and children are ripped from their homes, fleeing abuse and sometimes hiding for their lives in women’s shelters.
The locations of shelters are confidential. Victims are isolated for their own safety and from even the most basic of things like birthdays.
So, with the help of her church family and friends, Natalie throws parties for those children, giving them a brief escape from a reality no child should have to endure.
"She bought their presents and would do all these parties,” Smith said. "That's why I nominated her."
Along with First Fidelity Bank and NewsChannel 4, Smith paid it 4Ward to Natalie.
"Natalie, NewsChannel Four has a program called Pay It Forward, and I've been watching everything that you've been doing for all the kids at the shelter, and I'm so proud of you. And so on behalf of NewsChannel Four and First Fidelity Bank here's four hundred dollars,” Smith said.
"We have a party for a little boy who's turning eight, and there are actually two moms who are celebrating a birthday, and we've never done birthdays for the moms and included them so this will be really nice. I'm going today at lunch to actually pick up food for the party,” Natalie said. “It started a little over a year ago. I was in church and our pastor talked to us about ways we could reach out into the community. It just kind of came to me. When I was doing my daughter's birthday there are probably kids who don't have birthdays."
Natalie searched for women’s shelters and stumbled upon the Women’s Resource Center for Domestic Violence in Cleveland County. She’s been volunteering ever since.
"I just googled women's shelter, because I thought moms are going to be the ones who have the kids,” she said. “I reached out and they said they'd been looking for someone for three years."
It is a need that is finally met, and now Natalie is helping meet needs that many of us might even give a second thought, not only for children but now for their mothers, too.
"One needed a curling iron. I mean something as simple as a straightener for your hair she didn't have,” Natalie said. "It's just so rewarding."
Click here if you’d like to help.
Pay it 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.