SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- The Connecting Grounds Church in Springfield is making a change starting November 1.  

The church is being converted into an emergency family shelter, housing up to four families at any given time. 

One of the group’s volunteers, Amanda Garretson, is paying it forward. 

“I don’t want to see another family have to suffer the way that I did. I don’t want to see another family have to navigate resources that just aren’t there or that are hard to find on their own.” Garretson said. 

Struggling is something Garretson is all too familiar with. 

“It’s ironic, thinking about a year ago today, a year ago, I was eight months pregnant, living in the back of my car, scared to death,” Garretson said. “I was afraid they were going to take my baby away. I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t know what resources were available. I didn’t know. I didn’t know where to go. “In Springfield, there’s no emergency shelter for families.” 

The church will have no in-person church services until April. 

Garretson will spend time at The Connecting Grounds during those months, helping families who are staying there temporarily if other shelters are at capacity. 

“Any person who fills these beds, I want to be here to support them, to help them, to love them,” Garretson added. 

More people connected to the church say a shelter was something the area desperately needed. 

“We’re facing a very, very, very long winter and we’re facing potentially some very, very cold days.” Holly Madden said. “What’s been really heartbreaking is that most of our resources that are working with families that are at risk and vulnerable in our community are operating at capacity all the time.” 

“The reality is that we have experienced enough church as a verb to understand that this place is not just a church as a place. It’s more than that.” Member Dr. Shurita Thomas-Tate added. 

Garretson, like others, says she hopes this effort with catch on with other churches. 

“This is something that this community really, really, really needs, something that’s very lacking. And I’m hoping that it can be a stepping stone to something bigger.”