For more than 20 years, Carthage Crisis Center in Carthage, MO, has been helping needy and homeless individuals through difficult times. The center helps men, women and children and has the capacity to house about 45 individuals.
In 1996, members of Grace Episcopal Church committed to take action and help the homeless in southwest Missouri. After the church united forces with 16 other churches who were interested in making an impact, Carthage Crisis Center was born.
Jim Benton, executive director of the center and his wife Judy, who serves as the operations director, came to the crisis center four years ago. In the past, they served in similar programs in New Jersey, Florida and Springfield, MO.
“Our main form of assistance is to provide housing and accountability to those who stay with us,” Jim said. “In addition, we provide opportunities for job readiness, chores around the center and weekly group meetings to facilitate spiritual and personal growth.”
Currently, Carthage Crisis Center partners with Ozarks Food Harvest to receive food directly from local retail stores at no cost. A staff member picks up food from Walmart three days every week, and much of that food helps sustain the Center’s feeding programs.
“We serve daily meals to seniors during our lunchtime and we open our doors to anyone in need to join us for supper. We usually serve about 100 meals every day to our residents and those in need,” Jim said.
Carthage Crisis Center provides a safe environment for people to grow and change in. Jim believes that it’s up to each person that comes into the center to accept that gift and take advantage of it.
He recalls a story about James, a veteran who has been staying at the center for a few months:
“James was so desperate for a drink that he was willing to beg, borrow and steal. There was a liquor store not far from his apartment and he had been caught stealing many times from this place. But on one particular day, James was so desperate he walked down to the store and made a plan. He would grab the closest bottle he saw, break it open and begin chugging it down. James dashed into the store, grabbed a bottle of vodka, smashed the top off, and began guzzling the clear liquid to ease his pain. Before he was thrown out he cut his face severely with the glass shards as he was trying to drink. Now he was bleeding and only a little inebriated as he stumbled out of the store…that was five years ago. James has now been sober for more than five years. Today James is a free man! He is free from alcohol, free from the court’s system and free to live a new life!”
Ozarks Food Harvest is grateful for the life-changing work Carthage Crisis Center is doing in the Ozarks. To learn more about the center, visit carthagecrisiscenter.org.