4/4/2017 - BRANSON, Mo. – Over the last year, Jesus Was Homeless has transformed a former Branson theater into an all-in-one campus dedicated to changing lives.
Jesus Was Homeless director of community relations, Ashley Lauer, estimates the future home is two-thirds of the way complete.
"It's phenomenal to watch it come together,” she says. “It puts a lot of hope and excitement in us for all the programs and the potential."
Lauer and Jesus Was Homeless founder, Bryan Stallings, gave KOLR 10 a tour of the facility Tuesday afternoon. The 17,000 square foot building is nearly five times larger than their current location.
“This is the kitchen,” Stallings points out while walking through the foyer. “What it allows us to do is cook more of a healthier meal. We're partnered with Ozarks Food Harvest, so a lot of times we can't utilize the [donated] food because we don't have a way to prepare it. Now we do."
The newer and larger kitchen will play an important role in some 1,400 meals the organization delivers each week to people living in extended-stay hotels in Branson.
But the new location will also feature some brand new services.
"This building will allow us to do parenting classes, adult literacy, GED,” says Lauer, “really anything we see a need for."
"If we do the after school program for the kiddos… this will be like where you check kids in," says Stallings while walking through several rooms near the back of the building.
The after school program Stalling is referring to would allow children, many living in hotels, to have help with homework, a hot meal, and an actual playground.
"Their playground right now is [a] concrete [parking lot],” says Lauer. “To allow them to play in a park setting is going to be life-restoring."
The organization will also be able to add classes to its “Jobs for Life” program, which help homeless individuals find permanent housing and full-time employment.
Jesus Was Homeless also plans to add a thrift store, Laundromat and telemedicine room to the new facility. Lauer says while the expanded programs and services are important, the new facility will also help with ease of access for community members.
"We are meeting a need and we are in a perfect location," she says.
Jesus was Homeless has raised $1.5-million of the $2-million needed to finish the building. Lauer is hoping to move into the new campus in July or August of 2017.
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