Vision to help struggling families at heart of new outreach ministry
Sara Becker, manager of Greater Vision Outreach Center, says the Center is a place of hope and acceptance. “A place like this must be a place where God is lived out before our clients, volunteers and community partners. When we act the way Jesus would act, we become His hands and feet. It’s the way we choose to do everything. It is who we are.”
Mornings begin with the Center’s staff and volunteers gathering for prayer. The team discusses their day –– goals and challenges. Prayer concerns are offered and with the prayer’s amen and cups of coffee in hand, they debark to tackle their day’s first task.
The Bob and Carolyn Tucker Greater Vision Outreach Center is located in Thomasville on the Mills Home campus and was made possible by Shoe Show, Inc. founders and North Kannapolis Baptist Church members Bob and Carolyn Tucker. Groundbreaking for the 10,000 square foot Center was held on June 27, 2016 and the ministry was launched in October of that year. The construction was completed last year and the doors were opened to serve clients on September 17, 2018.
The Center provides assistance to working families who struggle financially and can benefit from one-on-one mentoring on a path to self-sufficiency. The Center assists them by providing direct services, referrals to community resources, and education opportunities that help them on their journey. The ministry also serves the community by being a clearinghouse channeling large donations to non-profit partners for distributions.
“God has made this new ministry what it is today,” Becker asserts. “I feel there are days when I’m just sitting in the passenger seat.”
Last year, individuals receiving food and clothing reached into the thousands. Currently, 19 families a month are served with a total of 77 household members impacted. The Center’s goal is to serve 40 families by mid-March 2019.
The Barkers of Thomasville are one of the families served. Diana and Terry are a blended family caring for seven children – four that live in the home plus three added every other weekend. The couple both work full-time, steady jobs.
Diana works 12-hour night shifts at a local manufacturing plant. “We make what we need to pay our bills, but there is no money for other important things. We struggle to update the children’s clothing as they grow out of them. Birthdays and Christmas can be hard and if something goes wrong –– we have a crisis and money is needed –– things are worse.”
Individuals requesting assistance are often physically and emotionally exhausted as well as economically challenged.
“When you work and try hard,” Terry says, “it can be disheartening –– Greater Vision helps.”
The families who are best served through the Greater Vision Outreach Center usually fall in the gap between qualifying for public assistance and being self-sufficient. They need a hand up.
“The help means so much,” Diana adds. “When you have a big family, a little extra help can mean the difference in a good and bad week.”
Many clients served are unemployed or underemployed and do not meet the standard for self-sufficiency in their county. Some may benefit from educational classes and basic skills classes while others may need help learning to manage their finances.
“We are setting goals and putting money aside,” Terry says. “We need work done on our truck. We are getting close to having the money saved to get it fixed.”
The vision for Greater Vision is grounded in the idea of helping families succeed. When times seem overwhelming, having someone to encourage and work with you through the tough patches can be all that keeps a family from making it or not.
The Barkers are helping families, too. The couple’s friend, a single mom, was sleeping on the floor. A donated bed arrived at Greater Vision Outreach Center that was perfect to meet her need.
“Sara made it happen,” Terry remembers. “I went to the Center, loaded the bed in my truck, and she was no longer sleeping on the floor. That night she had her own bed to sleep in. It felt good helping her.”
There are many reasons why families struggle and need help to achieve self-sufficiency:
• Unexpected crisis
• Financial mismanagement and instability
• The costs of child care, food and medical care
• Limited or no job skills
• Little or no family support
• Unemployment or underemployment
Individuals who meet the following criteria may be considered for services through Greater Vision Outreach Center:
• They must be employed or employable, having worked a job within six months of applying for services.
• They must have dependents living in their home. These dependents may include children under 18, disabled adult children, or disabled parents.
• A total household income must fall below the self-sufficiency standard for their county.
Interviews help determine a family’s viability in the program.
“What sets Greater Vision apart is our commitment to help families move to great