VP of Strategic Partnerships, Elevate Branson
What challenges do people face in your community?
Most of the population that we serve is within walking distance. They live in some of the extended stay motels and have found themselves there without the resources – whether through information or connection or relationship – to move forward. The lack of affordable housing in our community and the abundance of frontline jobs keeps people in a state where they don’t know how to move forward.
How do health inequities impact health?
What happens to many of the neighbors that we serve, is health becomes a crisis before it is addressed. This creates a drain on a community, because they typically use the emergency room and wait until a problem has exacerbated because they don’t know what else can be done. So we seek to address those needs as we try to prepare people to reenter the workforce
They are often not aware of the resources that exist for where they are, because they don’t have health insurance, they don’t have employer-offered health insurance because they are unemployed. They don’t realize there are other resources. So sometimes problems are much more expensive to treat, because they wait an extended amount of time before they seek treatment.
What is the most immediate need you help to address?
The area that is most important is the one that is immediate, and often times nutrition is not that important. They simply want to be fed.
That can create - for those that have diabetic problems - insulin problems, because they don’t have access, or they’re not aware of their blood sugar – they’re simply trying, it’s a survival mindset, going from day to day. So they come here with chronic problems and we have to go, “Ok, what’s the next step to help them.”
What role do partnerships play in serving your neighbors?
One of the things that I think is so unique about this program is that we don’t replicate services. I mean there is a tremendous amount of waste, unfortunately, that comes from services that are replicated over and over again within a geographic area. So when it’s not something we do, we refer them. We have partnerships with 108 different agencies that we simply will refer to, and we have established relationships. That partnership allows us to effectively case manage what the problem is without every place they go reassessing. Because of the relationship, because of our meal delivery program, they feel less inhibited to come and seek that out. So as we can direct them to someone who specializes in that, so we don’t recreate the wheel, it has been proven very effective and a good use of resources to effectively manage what their need is at the time.
What is your mission at Elevate Branson?
I’ve probably never seen a more wholistic approach to poverty. We are about the restoration of dignity in a person’s life, and that begins with valuing that person and recognizing what success is - and it’s not some arbitrary standard for everyone.
Success is defined by Elevate Branson and its founders Brian and Amy Stallings as the next right thing for them. So we need to figure out where they are, what their current need is, and how to move them along, and in the meantime, build that relationship that allows us to come beside them as we seek to walk with them through that journey.
We’ve graduated over 250 people through our work program, and we’ve seen thousands of people who have been given hope. This is a faith-based program. We don’t require that from anyone here, but I often say, "Where there is vision, the people flourish." When people begin to see not what life was, or is, but what it can be, it gives them hope to take the next step.
So we don’t overwhelm them, we just walk with them and say, “Here’s what we need to do next.” And they trust us enough to tell them things that perhaps can be difficult to hear, or they’re scared to say.
VP of Strategic Partnerships