Bart Brown: Collaboration is Key

December 12, 2017 in Bart's Hope Notes Get Involved

Poverty continues to be a challenge for folks who live in our community.

Wages in the Ozarks are much-lower than the national average, and in Springfield, wages are at just 60 percent compared to what people are earning nationally.

It’s heartbreaking to think about the folks in our community who face obstacles securing housing and transportation because of low-wages, causing them to take on debt just to cover the everyday costs of living.

But thankfully, we live in a community who doesn’t turn its back on our neighbors.

The latest Community Focus Report released this fall shared that although our wages put us on the low-end of earning, our community donates to nonprofits at a higher rate than the national average.

This report continues to highlight poverty as a red flag, but collaboration and volunteerism are two areas where our community has earned a blue ribbon.

We know our community faces challenges, but I believe we’ve proved that we care enough to do something about it. The report card commends area agencies for working together to address this problem.

At Ozarks Food Harvest, collaboration is at the heart of what we do. As you know, our food bank acts as a distribution point to provide millions of pounds of food to 270 food pantries, feeding sites and programs.

It’s by working together that we’re able to reach more than 261,000 people each year with food assistance.

And another critical collaborator is you, our donor. Thousands of you respond each year to our requests for donations of food, funds and time. We hope you understand that without your compassion, Ozarks Food Harvest and its 270 member pantries wouldn’t be able to meet the pressing need for food assistance.

We recently spoke with our friend Heather, pantry manager at Good Samaritan in Waynesville. She shared that she’s always had a passion for service and helping people set goals to move away from needing resources.

“Most of them, they come in for food, but they don’t know the resources,” Heather said. “They’re stuck, and they don’t know which step to take to get them through the next level to get on their own.”

Thankfully, organizations like Good Samaritan are there to help.

“There was a military mom that came in and she had been feeding her kids popcorn for four days. She didn’t know that there was a pantry that could help her,” Heather shared. “The volunteer bagged up her things … and came back in and he had tears in his eyes. He said, ‘I’ve never had an experience like that where the kids saw the groceries and were like, Mommy, does this mean we don’t have to eat popcorn anymore?’”

Poverty is a heartbreaking challenge for too many families, and with poverty comes unstable access to food. It’s because of people like you that those children that Heather told us about are eating a hot, nutritious meal.

Your gifts of generosity are meeting needs today, and breaking cycles of poverty for the future. Thank you for your support, and happy holidays from our family to yours.

Bart Brown is the president/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest.