Far too often, people in need are marginalized by a system that cannot meet their real need. A group of people in St. Charles County, Missouri, decided it was time to stop handing Band-Aids to those with broken arms. Instead, in 2013 they formed the Neighbor Helping Neighbor Service Coalition to help avert a deepening crisis in their city.
Supplying funds to pay an electric bill is not the same as getting to know a family and learning why they can’t pay the electric bill. So the goal of NHNSC is to go far beyond meeting one or two immediate needs. The act of providing training in life skills, and connecting people with agencies and resources where they can get help, has the potential to change a family’s future.
For example, “Sarah” and her children were referred to Calvary Church (EFCA) through a counselor at a school in Saint Charles, concerned that the family was homeless. Calvary is a founding member of NHNSC. Sarah was invited to an initial intake meeting with two individuals from Calvary: Matt Miller, the community ministry pastor, and Debi, a trained service coordinator.
Working as a team, they developed a comprehensive “life plan” that incorporated ideas and resources from businesses and organizations such as Lawlor Chiropractic Clinic, Reliable Resumés and St. Francis Community Services. As a result, Sarah was able to find a full-time job, adequate housing for her family, supplemental food, reliable transportation, medical care and child care.
Debi remains in contact with Sarah on a regular basis, and the family has reached a level of stability on several levels. This single mom is now looking forward to the day when she can pay it forward.