In northeast Springfield, there is a haven for those in need called Council of Churches of the Ozarks. A place where compassion flows freely. Every day, people from all walks of life came through the doors, each with a unique story to tell.
One morning, a woman named Sarah entered CCO’s Crosslines Food Pantry, her warm smile belying the challenges she faced. Sarah was hard of hearing, and she navigated the world through sign language and pen and paper. As she approached the pantry counter, her struggle to communicate was evident.
Watching Sarah’s determination touched the heart of Mary, a dedicated volunteer. She knew Sarah deserved the same dignity and respect as anyone else, and she set out to make a change.
That day, after her volunteer shift had ended, Mary sat down at her kitchen table with newfound purpose. She had made it her mission to learn sign language and bridge the communication gap that separated Sarah and others like her from the rest of the world. With determination and perseverance, Mary immersed herself in books, online resources, and instructional videos, mastering the basics of sign language one step at a time.
Days turned into weeks as Mary honed her newfound skill. She was eager to put her knowledge to use and make a difference in the lives of the pantry’s guests, especially Sarah. One day, an opportunity arose for Mary to tour the new CCO facility, where Crosslines is located. She eagerly accepted the invitation, curious about the expanded operations and new opportunities it would provide to the community.
As she explored the CCO facility, suddenly, the door swung open, and in walked Sarah, her pen and paper at the ready to express her needs. Mary’s heart leaped with joy as she locked eyes with Sarah. With newfound confidence, Mary stepped forward and, using sign language, asked, “Hello Sarah.”
A brilliant smile lit up Sarah’s face, and tears of gratitude welled in her eyes. For the first time since needing resources, Sarah felt truly seen, heard, respected, and understood.
After receiving resources, Sarah left the CCO facility, she couldn’t stop beaming. She felt a renewed sense of dignity and belonging.
Mary continues to volunteer at Crosslines, using her newfound sign language skills to help others like Sarah. The food pantry didn’t just provide sustenance; it nourished the souls of its visitors, showing that small acts of compassion could break down barriers and change lives for the better.