Coalition of Charities, Life360 detail new outreach

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Former hospital building to develop as service hub

A major community outreach effort operating under the umbrella of the Coalition of Charities and Life360 Community Services, based at the old Cox Monett Hospital, was outlined by Rachel Luebbering, executive director for the coalition, during a recent meeting of the Monett Lions Club.

Luebbering detailed how the coalition has partnered with Life360 Community Services, which took possession of the former hospital building in mid-September. The building has 91,000 square feet of space, plus space in the adjacent doctor’s clinic buildings, that a wide range of service organizations will use to provide services. She said the coalition hopes to make the hospital a “one-stop shop” for outreach, particularly for hard-to-reach individuals often overlooked by traditional office strategies.

Among those setting up offices in the former hospital will be the WIC program through the Barry County Health Department, the Missouri Job Center, OACAC with nine different programs, the Tri-County Pregnancy Center, music art and creative arts therapy, a family advocacy program, Focus on Prom which offers prom dresses at significant discounts, a hair and nail service, dental care and a daycare service for children from birth to age 5 that has 168 slots. Mental health services will also be available, and respite care for families needing a break from caregiving labors.

Luebbering indicated the coalition sees its service area as the 39th Judicial Circuit, including Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties. One in four people within the area qualify as falling under the poverty level. That territory includes a significant population of foster children, one of the specific populations the coalition seeks to assist. Within the circuit, she said, there are 500 children in foster care, plus an additional 500 children relocated into non-traditional family settings such as grandparents.

Luebbering said the coalition will offer space to churches and even quilting groups needing space for operations. They plan to help people complete their GED to certify completing high school, as well as providing support needed to keep a job. The coalition has devised its own homeless program, reaching out to 20 people to date, providing supplies to help those in need. Housing for the homeless will not be available at the old hospital without changes in city ordinances, she said.

The coalition has access to eight buildings, she noted, that can be opened in a crisis situation. These are facilities approved to accept funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for those services.

Future plans continue to develop, Luebbering said. The daycare undertaking, for example, will change in part on how the Monett school district proceeds with its early childhood program next school year. Other directions of service may include developing a dance program and working with the public defender’s office. A new food program is not envisioned. Life360 will continue its food program to school-aged children and their families through a base at the hospital building. She noted Ozark Food Harvest already has a local program through the Monett Community Kitchen, and will not duplicate that effort through any new initiative.

“Nothing is available for free,” Luebbering stressed. Clients will be able to barter for services, providing labor in return for assistance. At the same time, Luebbering said the coalition will welcome volunteers in any capacity. “If you can swing hammer or push a broom, we will welcome you to our family,” she said.

Karen Standerwick is serving as volunteer coordinator. She can be reached by phone at 417-669-1612 or by email at volunteer@coalitionofcharities.net. Also assisting in the presentation was Jeremy Hahn, Life360 Community Services executive vice president.

Luebbering said the coalition hopes to finish renovations on the hospital building for less than $30,000. The effort already has 2,500 volunteer hours invested.

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