Just Being Here
Almost every month, I sit down and write a few hundred words about the work you support at CSL. Through words and images, I try to bring our programs to life, so that you have a better understanding of how CSL is working to make meaningful and lasting change in our neighbors’ lives. In 2019, I’ve written about our collaboration with the Stone Church Neighborhood Dinner, how CSL is accomplishing our work in new environments, our commitment to workforce development as the pathway out of poverty, wealth and asset development, our new Farview Food Pantry, and CSL's acquisition of the Next Step KC lending program. Big initiatives with big vision are important. However, it’s important to remember that, sometimes, just being here is enough. So, what does that mean? With the opening of our Farview location, we now have 14 dedicated offices in Missouri, and many other locations where we co-op programs. At these locations, the only constant is the unexpected. While our offices run a variety of intentional and scheduled programs, more frequent is the crisis situation that walks through the door. In my 10 years with CSL, I simply can’t even begin to count the number of people that have said, “I don’t know what I need, but I was told to just come to CSL.” For most of these folks, our neighbors, their world has come crashing down due to job loss, housing instability, divorce, trauma, incarceration, medical emergency, or something big in their life. Thankfully, someone in their life referred them to CSL.
It’s in those times, that we’re here at the right time. It’s not a fancy program, or a big check, but it’s just a smiling face on the other side of a door. A person to listen. Someone to talk through problems with. Annually 16,000 people come through our doors. The average person comes in between four and six times annually, so our doors open almost 80,000 times a year. Over the years, people have come in concerned they will die soon without an important prescription medication they can't afford; we've had many people come in to CSL to escape their abuser; families often come in that are imminently going to be evicted, or just found themselves living on the street. We have lots of men and women that come immediately to a CSL office after being released from incarceration, and have no plans for how they are going to reenter society. We've had kids walk into our offices after a school day ends because they have no home to go to. Victims of fire, flood, tornado, or other disaster come to CSL to rebuild their lives. We shared a story on our Facebook page about a dad and his children passing through town, and how CSL helped them when they were stranded. From a business perspective, there’s a cost to just being here. We have to maintain a staff, several buildings, have accessible hours of operations, etc. Your unrestricted gifts to CSL make sure this is all possible. I want to thank you for understanding how important it is that our communities have places where people can turn. Different causes, campaigns, or issues can come up in our community, but it's critical that we have institutions with the infrastructure available to care for a significant portion of our population. Whether it’s a stranger passing through, or our next door neighbor, thank you for making sure that CSL is continuing its 103 years of work – being here when people need us.