The Council of Churches of the Ozarks (CCO), is a faith-based 501©3 serving Southwest Missouri since 1969. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of our most vulnerable neighbors by doing together what can best be done together in the name of Jesus Christ. With wrap-a-round support services available through nine outreach programs, the Council meets community needs affecting infant to elder. As an extension of churches from a variety of denominations and backgrounds, CCO has been inspiring hope for families, children, seniors and adults for more than fifty years.
The Compassion Campaign
Currently, the Ozarks is at a pivotal tipping point with poverty. The recently released Community Focus Report indicates that nearly 26% of Springfield residents’ income is below the poverty line – which is nearly double the Missouri state average. The current rates of child abuse and neglect in Greene County remain much higher than Missouri state averages and nearly 55% of Springfield public school students qualify for free and reduced lunches. Some of our Springfield schools have a staggering number of children in poverty at over 75%! There is an urgent need for overnight shelters and a number of homes falling in disrepair.
The Council of Churches of the Ozarks’ Compassion Campaign brings together caring hearts and hands to provide life-changing services to people in need in our community. An unrestricted gift in support of the Compassion Campaign (CCO’s annual campaign) helps to ensure all nine outreach services will continue to meet basic and emerging needs in our community.
Ambassadors for Children
Founded in 1999, Ambassadors for Children are renewing hope for abused and neglected children in foster care, through programs that meet critical needs and self-esteem.
Ambassadors for Children served a total of 1,884 kids though the Kid’s Closet, Prom Closet, Pack-a-bag, Foster Support and Christmas programs. Through the Foster Support program we provided more than $16,000 worth of goods and services to children in need. The outcomes provided through our services are to keep children safe, keep siblings together, reunify families, preserve foster placements, stabilize youth aging out of the system and build self-esteem. Through our Kid’s Closet program we served 841 foster children with brand new clothing, meeting a critical need and building their self-esteem. We are excited to announce the launch of our Mobile Kid’s Closet coming soon. This vehicle will deliver critical resources to foster families throughout Southwest Missouri who cannot access our Kid’s Closet in Spring eld. This is just a start of the many wonderful things we look forward to in 2017.
–Keke Rover, Director
Child Care Food Program
Since 1980 the Child Care Food Program has provided monitoring for healthy meals in license in-home daycares.
Child Care Food Program (CCFP) provides reimbursement for meals and snacks for in-home licensed and registered family child care providers. CCFP targets higher levels of reimbursement to low-income areas, and to day care providers and children most in need. The reimbursements make the cost of day care more affordable for many lower income families. Health and safety standards, training, and monitoring make CCFP an important component of quality child care, especially in family day care homes.
–Ashley Carlew, Director
The One Stop for Early childhood
The One Stop for Early Childhood is “the” clearinghouse of information in Greene County for families and caregivers of young children. Services offered include a community referral service based on needs, as well as, education and ongoing support for families and children. Our ultimate focus in on kindergarten readiness and school success.
–Nicole Piper, Director
Crosslines of Springfield
Crosslines has been providing food and services for families in crisis since 1969. As the first outreach service of the Council of Churches, Crosslines is the largest food pantry in the Greene County.
It was a busy year at Crosslines. The poverty rate has more than doubled in the last 10 years, which means that the need for food assistance is increasing at a steady rate. In 2017, Crosslines served a record-breaking number of hungry families and individuals providing food assistance to more than 71,000 neighbors in needs. The 2014 Poverty Commission reported a need for a network of case management professionals who would assist individuals and families in taking sustainable steps out of poverty. Thus, in June 2016 we added a new case management position at Crosslines: Rachel Moore joined us as our Community Resource Specialist. Since that time, Rachel has made great strides in making connections with several pastors and staff at our Member Churches, and providing direct assistance for our neighbors in need who come to the church door seeking assistance.
– Tom Faulkner, Director
Connections Handyman Service
Since 2001 Connections Handyman Services have been providing essential home repairs for low-income seniors in Greene County.
Connections Handyman Service (CHS) provides repair services for seniors that own their own home. Over the last 12 years a lot of things have changed, including prices, age of our clients and income.
The price of the components (toilets, faucets, water heaters) continue to go up each year, with water heaters leading the way by almost doubling in price over the last 12 years. On average a contracting professional costs about $85 per hour and the cost of labor is continuing to rise. CHS has been very fortunate to retain the cost of service around 80% of market labor cost for the last 8 years.
CHS is able to provide the installation of grab bars and handrails regardless of age or income thanks to a private grant. We provide grab bar service to about 20-30 households a year.
–Richard Virnig, Director
Daybreak Adult Daycare
Daybreak Adult Day Care has been providing medically-monitored hand-over-hand adult day care since 1998.
Daybreak Adult Day Care provides the highest quality of services to people who are frail elderly and people with disabilities. We are enthusiastically committed to providing a “self-directed” meaningful, joyful and stimulating day to our program participants. We accomplish this goal by partnering with participants to create activity calendar events of their choosing, going into the community frequently and responding to spontaneous requests as much as possible. We support both the learning of life skills and the maintaining of skills depending on the needs of the individual. We tap into current interests as well as expose participants to new experiences. We are truly blessed to have the privilege of touching the lives of people who bring so much joy to our world. We laugh, love, sing like no one is watching and cry in times of sorrow with one another. We provide services but in our hearts the program participants of Daybreak are family.
–Paula Gronniger, Director
Long-term Care Ombudsman
Since 1978, Council of Churches Ombudsman Program has been advocating for the rights of long-term care facility residents. In that time they have worked with over 1.3 million elderly individuals in Missouri.
It is very important to get to know each person who lives in the nursing home, especially those with dementia. Ombudsman staff and volunteers talk and spend time with each resident in order to learn about their preferences, their past, what they enjoy doing and their goals and wishes for the future in order to assist them should a problem and/or concern arise.
–Connie Payne, Director
In 1974 RSVP began working with senior citizens, connecting them to volunteer opportunities in the community. Currently RSVP organizes the Reading Buddy Program connection seniors to children in the school system that need literacy help, as well as organizing senior citizens to grocery shop for homebound seniors in the Ozarks.
RSVP senior volunteers provide social support and grocery delivery to homebound seniors, mentoring and literacy support to help bridge educational and relationships gaps for at-risk elementary students, and disaster education and emergency preparedness to a neighboring community. Through the RSVP Reading Buddy Program, 580 students were given 1,234 new books to take home and practice reading to improve their literacy. Because of the dedication and commitment to service by volunteer seniors age 55 or older, many community needs are provided to the most vulnerable children and seniors in our community. A RSVP volunteer just told us, “ All my life I have gotten paid for the work that I do, but volunteering for the Homebound Shopping Program is the best payment I’ve ever had”.
– Kristy Frans, Director
Safe to Sleep
In 2011 the Council of Churches opened a women’s overnight homeless shelter in Springfield.
Safe to Sleep is a low-barrier emergency overnight shelter. Since October of 2011, we have provided a safe place to sleep to over 1900 individual women. Because of the generosity of Pathways United Methodist Church and over 70 volunteers willing to stay overnight and watch over the women as they sleep, we are able to be open every night of the year. We are privileged to provide safety, snacks, hygiene products and many other services to our guests. To address the deeper issues of homelessness – poverty, medical needs, mental health and lack of low-income housing options – we will add a full time case manager in 2018.
– Romona Baker, Safe to Sleep volunteer