Branson's Jesus Was Homeless expands campus and services

Branson-based Jesus Was Homeless has expanded its building and its services.

Now located on Gretna Road, the new facility is about eight times the size it was when Jesus Was Homeless started about 10 years ago. Organization leaders says the expanded campus helps them better serve those who are hurting.

Anne Duncan is a living success story of the work of Jesus Was Homeless.

"I feel like this is where I belong," Duncan said.

She is now a part-time employee and a volunteer for the organization. However, she once was a drug addict, living in extended-stay motels.

"Once you're there, it's hard to pay that amount then get out," Duncan said.

Unfortunately, Duncan's story is not unique. Jesus Was Homeless leaders say many people are stuck in unstable housing or living on the streets in Branson.

That's why Community Relations Director Ashley Harkness says in order to meet the growing need, Jesus Was Homeless had to grow, too.

"This facility is going to allow us to have a computer lab where we are going to have an after school program, we can have GED classes," Harkness said.

In the 17,000 square foot facility, they now have an onsite thrift store, a bigger space to make weekly meals (which they deliver to area families living in extended stay motels), a thriving church called Gateway Branson, and spacious childcare areas for people to take their kids while participating in programs. Those growing programs include "Jobs for Life," which helps people get long-term employment and invest in their own futures.

"It'll allow us to run multiple classes at one time. We can start them every four weeks instead of every eight weeks," Harkness said.

She says there will also soon be a cafe where they'll host classes for people seeking a career in food services. The campus will also become home to dental, medical, and mental health services. Plus, the "Community Connections" program will help link people to resources and helpful services throughout Branson.

It is all to help hurting people find a home.

"Everybody is treated the same. That's the best part about it," Tina Edwards said.

Support from the community helps make Jesus was Homeless a success. Harkness says a local hospital will donate more medical equipment for the medical portion of the organization. She says they plan to have an open house for the medical services the beginning of 2018.