Hope on the horizon
For years, Rick was a healthy, active man with a full life. He worked at the Walmart Auto Care Center in Branson and enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. In late 2018, he left work early one day, feeling a little bit under the weather. He didn’t think much of it and planned to return to work when he felt better.
Unfortunately, Rick was diagnosed with pneumonia and several other medical complications. During his recovery, he was diagnosed with COPD. He tried to go back to work, but the physical labor was too difficult. Rick lost his job in 2019. After the funds from his temporary disability ran out, he felt
completely lost and alone. He had trouble paying bills, and because he couldn’t pay his rent, he was evicted.
Rick was hopeless—and he needed help. One evening, in a moment of despair, he called 911. The operator connected him with Elevate Branson, formerly known as Jesus Was Homeless. The organization offers a wide range of services and partners with Ozarks Food Harvest to provide meals for individuals seeking food assistance in Branson.
“They helped me get food and get to the doctor since I didn’t have a car. They advocated for me so I could pay the bills, and they got me a social worker,” he shared. “If it wasn’t for them, I’m not sure that I would be here today.”
The onset of COVID-19 created a new set of problems for Rick. He began relying on an oxygen tank last year, and because of his underlying medical conditions, he was fearful to leave the house, even for groceries.
“It’s scary to get out in public and be around people for me. I still feel so young, and I would really rather be working than dealing with this,” he shared.
In the spring, Elevate Branson provided him with sack lunches, and the organization helped him get food from a local food pantry. They also helped him apply for food stamps.
He now has several friends from Elevate Branson that help him get to the store and shop for groceries. They also helped him locate his stimulus check several months ago.
“They check up on me, and they make sure I’m taken care of,” Rick said.
Bryan Stallings, co-founder of Elevate Branson, shifted the organization’s focus at the onset of COVID-19 to help people like Rick. While addressing homelessness, he also meets immediate needs in the community like food insecurity, filing unemployment claims and providing transportation for medical services.
“We learned that there’s a delay between when the need arises and how quickly they can receive government assistance,” he said. “For instance, we saw about a six-week gap between the shutdown of employment and the time the stimulus checks and additional unemployment benefits were received.”
Because of organizations like Elevate Branson, Rick—and others who suddenly find themselves in completely unexpected situations—can find support.
“The future looks brighter for me now. I don’t have any more debt to pay; it’s such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I can take care of myself, and it’s because of the people at Elevate Branson,” Rick shared.
This is only one of the many transformative stories of hope from our 270 hunger-relief partners. Thank you for your continued support of our mission. Because of you, people like Rick have hope for the days ahead.