SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Stories like Tommy Potter’s are becoming more common in Springfield.
Potter is homeless but is working toward the life he wants.
“There is a lot of us who are trying to do better that want to move forward, that want to get off the street,” Potter said. “When I hit rock bottom, it just that was it. I was tired of the drugs. I was tired of being homeless.”
That’s when he turned to Christie Love, who behind closed doors, has been working on transforming her church and nearby buildings on West Chestnut Expressway into a transition shelter.
“We’ve been able to talk to everyone and kind of clear those hurdles, that project is moving forward now, which we’re really incredibly excited about.” Love said.
This plan initially began in 2022, when she used just one building and turned it into an emergency shelter ahead of the winter.
This time, she’s expanding to the other two buildings to help up to 15 people at a time.
“We’ll have a congregate setting over in what is currently the church building that will be able to house ten. We’ll have a little studio apartment which will be able to house two, and then we’ll have this building which will get converted into a non-congregant house that will be able to house three,” Love said.
One of those buildings is the Family Connection building, but The Connecting Grounds is looking to purchase a place closer to the heart of Springfield to benefit those who need that resource.
Getting into the transitional shelter starts with volunteering at the Connecting Grounds Outreach Center.
“It’s going to require choosing to pursue some sobriety,” Love said. “It’s going to require choosing to pursue mental health care.”
Both are things Potter has already put behind him.
“I told her when I got ready to get in the program, I was like, I’m not tiptoeing in the water. I’m jumping in both feet,” Potter said.
Potter tells KOLR 10 many more people on the streets want that chance to change their lives.
“[Some people] want to get away from the drugs, but without that want and the support combining together, it’s not going to happen,” Potter said. “[I’ve changed] my way of thinking with people believing in me. Now I believe in myself.”
His change has been so consistent, he’s been recognized for it.
“I’m very proud of this,” Potter said as he displayed his award. “It had been probably at least 30 some years since I had gotten an award for anything, so this I’m very proud of. I’m going to get a frame for it.”
Love says her congregation will meet on Saturday nights at the Brentwood Christian Church in south Springfield.