Members of a Southwest Missouri community come together to address a growing problem. A group of ministers in Monett met today with city leaders to discuss homeless in their community, and what they can do to help.
Members of the Monett Ministerial Association say they’re still in the information gathering and planning phase, but hope to eventually have a program up and going to help the homeless in Monett. To that end, they met today with city leaders and representatives from shelters in Joplin and Springfield. And while many people in Monett may not realize there is a homeless population in the community, First Baptist Church Pastor Brian Schoffstall says last night’s weather only served to underscore the issue.
“The last thing we wanted was for people to sit out in the cold while we have this facility and were able to host them,” says Brian Schoffstall.
Schoffstall says one couple in particular stood out to him.
“They had no idea what they were going to do. They knew this weather was coming, but they didn’t have any options, and the reality is these people, they were great people,” says Schoffstall.
Monett Ministerial Association President Raymond Haught says instances like that, where someone has fallen on hard times and simply needs help getting back on their feet is the driving force behind the community based approach to homelessness in Monett.
“We know and recognize that we have homeless people that are living amongst us, and we’re trying to address that issue. Kind of have a brainstorming session today,” says Raymond Haught.
Monett Police Chief George Daoud was one of those at the session, and says homeless has several different faces in his town.
“We have the ones that are not sheltered, they don’t have a place to stay, whether it be permanent or temporary,” says Chief George Daoud.
Daoud says those folks may find shelter under a bridge, or in some other way. But there’s another part of the population that may be less obvious.
“Which is the displaced that don’t have permanent housing, and they’re either in a shelter type situation or in temporary housing from a friend or family member or someplace that they can find,” says Chief Daoud.
Haught says Wednesday’s meeting may just be a first step towards helping those folks, but it’s an extremely important one.
“Just kind of like a twelve step program, first thing you’ve got to do is recognize you’ve got a problem, and admit that you have a problem, and so that’s why we’re here, we admit that we have a problem,” says Raymond Haught.
And he says the key to success is making sure it’s a true community based program.
“Our overriding thought on this is to not solicit government funds. We think this is a community problem, and so should be addressed by the community,” says Haught.
Schoffstall says he’s hoping that this program can become something that he says will give traction to families trying to get back on their feet.
“The reality is there’s so many people out there that do want to kind of push the restart button, or that do want to get going, and they just can’t,” says Brian Schoffstall.
Haught says the hope is to eventually have a program up and running that will offer temporary or transitional housing and assistance with finding a job. He says to do that, they’ll work to form partnerships with other nonprofits and businesses in the Monett area.