Submitted to Branson Globe
Elevate Branson, the organization formerly known as Jesus was homeless, has responded to the tremendous health and economic impact of COVID-19 within the Branson community in a variety of ways. During the past three weeks, it has provided essential services for 175 households, 79% of which were new for assistance.
“Community is even more important in times like these,” said Bryan Stallings, co-founder of Elevate Branson with his wife Amy. “We draw strength from one another and during this time of forced social isolation, our neighbors in and close to poverty need us even more. When one person struggles, the rest of us need to be here to help them up again. We must support, love and accept one another through this crisis.”
Partnerships with other local agencies and businesses in the community have helped meet the growing needs in this area, without missing or overlapping services. Elevate Branson has helped people file their unemployment claims, find necessary transportation, receive housing assistance, secure rent support and access telemedicine services. Meal deliveries to the area’s recently unemployed and working poor more than tripled and went from 350 once a week to almost 500 twice a week (1,500). Organizations including Christian Action Ministries (CAM), Bridge of Faith Church, The Caring People, The Branson Loop, Convoy of Hope and others have worked together to meet the growing need.
Stallings, Elevate Branson staff and volunteers serving on the front lines of this pandemic, have been especially touched by the children they see during the bi-weekly food deliveries they initiated in response to area school closings.
“We knew kids wouldn’t be getting the daily, nutritional meals they depended on, so we upped meal delivery to nearly three times what we were doing before the virus,” Stallings said. “Lots of the children wait outside, eager for us to arrive. They are our cheerleaders, our fan club and the reason we keep doing what we do.”
Elevate Branson provides families with a simple, nutritious meal in a bag, along with smiles, something to look forward to, assurance that someone cares and a little bit of kindness in a crazy and uncertain world.
“Our service is only possible because of support from this community, our many donors and volunteers. Doing this for the last 10 years has prepared us for a crisis few could have predicted,” said Stallings. “We know that food is essential, but so is hope and love for folks who are struggling, right here in our community.”
For additional information, volunteering opportunities or to make a financial contribution, go to ElevateBranson.org or call 417-335-9915.