It's a story that spans decades and it's a personal one for the author. She was a Tulsa newspaper reporter who met a priest for an article. Forty years later, that article is now a book: "Dan's War on Poverty," about a man once called the conscience of our community.
As Ann Patton autographed copies of her book Sunday, she was quick to remind readers to celebrate Father Dan Allen.
"His words and his actions created change in that era and a lot of that change still exists today," she says.
News On Six anchor Clayton Vaughn profiled Allen for CBS News back in 1968.
"In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a unique program to give incentive to the poor to help themselves has developed from small beginnings…" Vaughn says as the documentary outlining Allen's Neighbor for Neighbor project opens.
From his church in North Tulsa, Allen was a civil rights crusader who said he saw the beauty of South Tulsa, built on the backs of the poor in North Tulsa and knew that wasn't right.
"The facade is beautiful but the guts - the guts are full of cancer," Allen said at the time.
Outspoken, witty and sharp, he raised awareness at time when very few people wanted to view poverty as a problem.
"I felt that church was useless if it would not take its stand with the defenseless," Allen said.
His grassroots group Neighbor For Neighbor promoted philanthropy with a twist: if someone needed help, he'd help them. In return, that person would volunteer to help others and gain self respect in the process.
Through Neighbor For Neighbor, Allen opened a free health clinic and the area's first food bank. He fought to desegregate the schools--ideas that were quite radical, even controversial, during the volatile 1960s.
"The most important lesson of this story is that ordinary people can do extraordinary things," Patton says of Allen
His was a life dedicated to giving a voice to the voiceless, a legacy that will inspire the next generation through the words inside a book.
Patton's book is on sale now. It is available through one if its publishers, the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice.
That group hopes to create a lesson plan for Patton's book so local teachers can use it in their classrooms.