Christian Action Ministries in Branson: Neighbors Providing Hope
“The biggest thing we want to do is bring hope to people,” shared Michele Dean, the executive director of Christian Action Ministries (CAM) in Branson – and they work very hard to do just that.
However, CAM aspires to do much more for the people they feed. Michele says meals are important, after all, it’s what brings neighbors to their door. But as a ministry, CAM wants to learn how to best help people improve their lives. The ministry wants to “sit down and talk face to face and understand what people need.”
Michele shared a story about a man named Ben. He received food from the pantry for several months. Late one spring, Ben called Michele. He was upset and worried; Ben explained he had lost his ride and couldn’t come to pick up the food he needed. No problem, she assured him, and brought the food to his home. When Michele arrived, she found that Ben lived in a low-income, under-served housing complex. After that realization, she arranged a mobile distribution for the residents there.
Next month, at the mobile distribution, Ben approached her. He was agitated, confused, and waving a letter. He gave it to Michele and told her he couldn’t read – it was an eviction notice. She arranged to come out the following day to help him. Michele returned to her office that night and looked at Ben’s file. She saw that he had received help from numerous agencies, but no one had ever noted that he was an adult with disabilities. He didn’t have a case worker or anyone to help him manage his affairs. He had slipped through the cracks.
Food insecurity brought Ben to CAM and allowed Michele to build a relationship with Ben to understand what would help him. She talked with him, connected him with the resources he needed to stay in his home, and found him help with his disabilities. Michele explained, “sometimes you don’t know how to help someone until you get to know them.”
Providing food assistance to neighbors in need is the key to helping people get to the next steps that improve their lives. Michele says that’s why working with Ozarks Food Harvest is so valuable. “It is what allows us to be able to serve our community. Not just the food and financial help they provide, but the resources and mentorship. The Food Bank’s team has walked alongside me and given me a greater understanding of all the services that are available. We couldn’t do this without them. They are the backbone to allowing us to impact our community.”
Less than two years ago, CAM served just over 2,000 individuals a month. They didn’t have the space they needed – especially freezer space – so it limited the amount of food they could order, and thus distribute. Since then, they’ve moved to a larger facility, and with a $50,000 grant from Ozarks Food Harvest, they purchased a walk-in cooler and freezer. Since the pandemic, they’ve more than doubled the number of people they serve. This is a trend most hunger-relief organizations are seeing as neighbors find themselves in need now more than ever.
Michele shared that the “whole purpose is to provide hope and show people that you care,” and we couldn’t agree more. Ozarks Food Harvest is honored to be a part of the inspirational work Christian Action Ministries Branson is doing in Taney County.