Any way you look at it, 2017 was quite a year for Jesus Was Homeless. In its final twelve weeks alone we,
- Moved into our new 17,000 square foot campus on Gretna Road;
- Increased the number of sack meals we deliver every Thursday;
- Set a record for volunteers working at our annual Love Your Neighbors Thanksgiving Day Dinner;
- And saw big increases in the number of kids and families who attended this year’s Pajama Movie Night and Affordable Toy Store.
Talk about setting the bar high as we charge into 2018! Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing.
While the calendar is changing to 2018, the problems confronting the people we serve here in the Branson area remain just as serious as ever. But there is new opportunity in 2018 as well. In fact, it’s going to be a year of exciting change. Let me tell you some of what’s in store.
Our chief goal is to become known for providing next steps to people, transforming lives, and providing a quality workforce to employers here in the Branson area. We will do that through our highly successful Jobs for Life program and complementing it through our Jesus Was Homeless Rewards program where people can work at our campus to earn points. Not only does that enable them to buy things, the things they truly need, it also teaches them the dignity and value of work, which they can then carry with them into the workplace.
In fact, Jobs for Life will increasingly be the focus of our efforts in the new year as we work to move more people toward full-time employment. Why is that so important? Because it always comes down to having a job.
You see, the people we serve live in various types of poverty. Some face financial poverty, which is a lack of money. Other have relational poverty, meaning they don’t have a network of friends and relatives to support them. Still others live in spiritual poverty, with a void stemming from the absence of a relationship with God (which so many times they futilely try to fill with alcohol and drug abuse).
Having a job is where all those problems intersect. Getting a good job is the first step in climbing out of poverty and moving forward in life. Holding a good job is essential to restoring a person’s sense of dignity and self-worth.
That’s why I have set an important goal for this time next year. When New Year’s Eve 2018 rolls around, I want to be able to say that 80% of our Jobs for Life graduates have gained meaningful and sustained employment. I want us to be known as an organization that provides not only outstanding service to the people we serve, but also to our community by helping address its insatiable workforce needs.
We say Jesus Was Homeless is “not just for the homeless.” We’re for hurting people who want to see a change in their life. Time and time again, that change begins with finding a place in the workforce. And everyone at Jesus Was Homeless is working to make that happen for an even larger number of people in the coming year.
I wish you and yours the very best of everything in 2018, and will keep you posted as we progress toward achieving our important goal. In the meantime, Happy New Year!