On May 3, the Cassville R-4 School District held a kick-off for the local Bright Futures program. The breakfast event was held at the Cassville United Methodist Church.
"We appreciate you being here," said Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent. "The first step of Bright Futures is getting people involved, and the first piece is the giving of time."
The purpose of the Bright Futures program is to make a difference in children's lives without going to wallets or checkbooks, said Asbill.
"We don't have to reinvent the wheel," said Asbill. "As we learned from the tragedy in Joplin, this program is designed to meet students' basic needs, which in that case was simply asking 'are you alive?'"
Asbill said that the Bright Futures program was in place at the Joplin School District prior to when the tornado hit the city in May of 2011. Due to the fact that the system was already in place, the district was able to use it to meet students' needs.
"We have a certain hierarchy of needs, including food, clothing, water and shelter," said Asbill. "Most of us, in this room, have never truly felt hungry or gone without basic things, like shoes, clothing or a roof over our head.
"We like to brag about how good our school is and how good our community is, and we all know that we are very blessed," said Asbill. "But, even in our district, every day a child is going with basic needs unmet. Children are very good at covering up that they have a need."
Asbill challenged community members to use their time, talents and treasures for the good of the children in the community. This can be done, but simply taking time to have lunch with a child, he said.
"It is really about love," said Asbill. "The one place that some of these children find love is at school. We have a great group of teachers who work not only to educate children, but to love them."
Asbill said Bright Futures will form a partnership between the faith-based community, the school, the business community, parents and alumni to work to meet the needs of children in the Cassville community.
"This is one of those ah-ha moments when we say, 'Why weren't we doing this a long time ago?" said Asbill. "This is going to be one of those things that you will be happy to be a part of.
"We need embrace the relationships we have with the banks, convenient stores and businesses in our community," said Asbill. "We need to embrace the fact that we can't do this alone. We need to embrace the partnership we have with the faith-based organizations in our community.
"God has given us an opportunity and a huge responsibility in this community," Asbill added.
Bright Futures is based on the idea that each individual, church and business has time, talents and treasures to offer children in the community, said Asbill.
"We are not asking for money," said Asbill. "We just want your time."
If the local Bright Futures program is successful it will inspire even more people to want to live in the Cassville community and send their children to the Cassville School District, which will benefit the entire community, said Asbill.
"It will make more people want to be a part of what makes Cassville great," added Asbill.
Community members attending the Bright Futures kick-off event were challenged to find two more community members interested in giving their time, talent and treasures to Cassville kids.
After Asbill's address, attendees met in small groups to discuss how Bright Futures could be used to help area children. Attendees were invited to meet with Cassville School District faculty members to discuss student needs.
The event also offered an invocation by James Weaver, Cassville First Baptist Church pastor, and a short address by Andy Lambel, Cassville United Methodist Church pastor.
The Bright Futures Steering Committee includes: Diane Shiveley, Jon Horner, Jill LeCompte, Mindi Artherton, Melanie Stringer, Weaver and Lambel.