US Census Bureau reports the current poverty rate of Stone County at nearly 15 percent and Taney County at 17 percent. Based on those percentages, almost 15,000 people in the area live below the federal poverty line–$12, 140 for a household of one or $25,100 for a family of four.
Over several months a total of 18 leaders of businesses, agencies and ministries met to determine what it would take to get started on an effort to address the systemic issues attached to poverty.
“We know that not one person, ministry, or institution can accomplish this feat. Only in unity, will our community move the needle on poverty,” said Elizabeth Hughes, executive director of Christian Action Ministries.
The challenges of poverty are easily identified, but to date, there is not a comprehensive report to gauge areas indicating and/or contributing to poverty in Ozark Mountain Country. The question is “How can you know what to address without truly knowing your weaknesses and strengths?”
What resulted was a proposal to conduct a 24-month community assessment of poverty and health in Stone and Taney counties. Missouri Foundation for Health granted the request for this crucial self-study. In September 2018, the Community Assessment on Poverty began.
Phase one of the study includes collecting and analyzing existing data of Ozark Mountain Country. From this information, the coalition and research firm can begin to pinpoint areas of concern and gaps in information.
In the second phase, the assessment will gather community input from across Stone and Taney counties, as well as look at other communities from across the nation that have implemented innovated approaches to address poverty.
In phase three, the coalition assisted by the extended community will examine everything learned and begin to compile a report that reflects the state of Ozark Mountain Country.
The result will provide a comprehensive look at indicators of poverty in Stone and Taney counties, as well as recommendations on how to move the needle on poverty. The intention is to create a baseline measurement tool and strategic plan from which to work, while keeping Christ at the center of any effort.
Moore Strategic Consultants, out of Brentwood, Tennessee, is contracted to assist in this evaluation. The Moore firm has facilitated numerous similar projects across the nation, including some reliant upon the leisure and travel industry.
“For generations, God has used the Ozark Mountains as a beacon of hope and a ‘light on a hill.’ We see Him, again, at work in our land,” states Elizabeth Hughes, Executive Director for CAM.
Organizers of the initiatives welcome the community to get involved three ways initially: 1. By bringing awareness to the issue of poverty and its effects in Stone and Taney Counties; 2. By supporting existing agencies and ministries doing good works on the front lines today; and 3. By joining the initiatives in their efforts as they identify needs.
For more information or to become a part of this project, please contact Teresa Huddleston, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 417-334-1157.
Phase 1 September-December 2018 (Data Collection & Analysis )
Phase 2 January-March 2019 (Community Input, Site Visits)
Phase 3 April-October 2019 (Direction & Action Planning)
Phase 4 November 2019-September 2020 (Final Drafting of Report, Final Report Presentation)
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Jesus Was Homeless, Branson-Completed
College of the Ozarks, S. Truett Cathy Poverty Summit-Completed
Forsyth Boys & Girls Club-Canceled
Forsyth Senior Center-Completed
Reeds Spring Boys & Girls Club-Canceled
Branson Manor-February 27, 9-11 am
Christian Action Ministries Forsyth Pantry-February 28, 1:15-3:15 pm
United Methodist Church Kimberling City-Thursday, March 7, 5-7 pm
Bridge of Faith Community Church-TBA