Native American storm victims receive AARP grant

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Within hours of the May storms, the American Association of Retired Persons put together an Oklahoma relief fund, exceeding $650,000, to support storm victims.

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference was given a large donation.

"This gift of $24,000 will help those families get their lives back together," said Sean Voskuhl, State Director, AARP.

More than 50 Native American families were affected by May's twisters, including Carole and Henry Willis.

The couple, married for nearly 60 years, raised their family in Moore.

It's hard for them to look at the empty slab where their home once stood.

"I was grateful we got a cellar, some years back," said Carole Willis.

"I knew we were going to lose everything we had," said Henry Willis.

Now more than two months later, the Willis' will see some financial help. The AARP has a fund that has reached $674,000

Half of the money came from members and the other half, the foundation matched.

The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference is one of 11 different organizations that will receive money to help with long-term recovery efforts, including housing and rebuilding efforts.

For Carole, accepting help has been challenging.

"You'll readily help somebody else, but it's difficult, you have to prepare yourself to receive," said Willis.

Assistance, however, that will help them get back on their feet.

100 percent of the grants will be used for direct assistance in Oklahoma, none of the money will be used for administrative costs.

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