From prison to professional: Woman discovers “Love Changing Lives” at Mary Martha Outreach

“Mary Martha helped me climb out of the trenches of poverty into a position where I am able to serve my community, the community I have lived in all of my life.”

On the surface, Kristina Edens looks like a successful professional, sitting at her desk and taking care of business. What you can’t see is the struggle Kristina faced at an early age, before she found the staff at Catholic Charities Mary Martha Outreach in Bartlesville who loved her while she was learning to love herself.

Born and raised in the Bartlesville area, Kristina has a checkered past. She was getting in trouble with the law at a young age and had her first felony conviction at age 19. By the time she was 36, she had served two prison sentences. Then, the prospect of living a normal life looked bleak. At a time when she didn’t think she had much going for her, she reached out to Mary Martha Outreach for help. “When I got out of prison, Mary Martha helped clothe me, feed me and furnish my new house,” says Kristina. “They helped me realize I was worth a better life.”

“Not only did they support me materialistically,” she says. “They supported me mentally and emotionally. Because of the love and acceptance they showed me, I no longer felt like just a former inmate with a checkered past, but instead like a person of value despite my past mistakes.” Because of this, Kristina was ready to make some BIG changes in a new, positive direction.

With newfound self-esteem, Kristina decided she wanted to go to college. In 2016, she graduated with honors from Rogers State College with a degree in psychology and then earned a Master’s degree in Addiction Counseling and Mental Health in 2019 from Northeastern State University. At this same time, she worked as a counselor at Youth and Family Services in Washington County. Kristina now spends her days counseling others who are struggling with similar issues to what she herself faced.

She is very grateful for the volunteers and staff of Mary Martha Outreach, who she credits with saving her life. “I want to thank them for supporting me and helping me become successful through their love of community.”

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