Rev. Dan Campbell stood in front of his congregation and asked a very hard question, “Would the community miss us if we were gone?”
That was the breeze that sparked the flame for this small Methodist church in Holiday to close as a place of worship and re-open as a full-fledged 501(c)(3) charity called the Joining Hands Community Mission (JHCM).
“Too many families in Pasco County are in crisis,” says Dan, who serves the charity’s CEO. He also serves as president of the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County. According to Dan the number of homeless families (with at least one child in public school where the data is collected) doubled from 2008 to 2009, from 1,124 to 2,400 respectively. “There are also 14,800 homes currently in foreclosure in the county. Because families are living together, there is a potential for another 150,000 people to be homeless in the near future.” He adds that utility companies are charging enormous deposits, making it more difficult for families to live on their own after foreclosure.
“We have families with children living in their cars by a 24-hour Walmart so they can use a bathroom. With no emergency family shelters in the county, we have nowhere for them to stay. Sadly there are now about 40 to 60 camps set up in the woods.”
A man of calling and action, Dan set out to join ministry and social services together. He now hosts churches like Generations Church in Trinity who use his program as a mission field for youth and adults. Any organization can contact Dan about helping.
“Younger people want to help with money, but also with their hands,” so JHCM welcomes volunteers from all walks of life who want to work directly with families.
“We encourage teenagers to volunteer during the holidays making crafts with children of our clients so they have a gift for their parents.” People can also volunteer to be personal shoppers with the families who come for food and toy donations, and he needs a lot of both.
The personal shopping experience was designed to give some dignity to the process, especially for the dads who often have a difficult time getting help from someone else so they can provide for their children. Clients are pre-qualified and then given a shopping appointment where they can select food and toys that fit the family. Donations are accepted from November 2 to December 24.
Clients receive more than material goods. Staff and volunteers with JHCM do their best to offer hope along with support services that can help them improve their situation.
To learn more about Dan, his mission and their holiday giving event, go to www.joininghandsmission.org