NORMAN — Members of Norman Mission Ministries want to re-engage with area churches.
“They (churches) need to know more about us. The community needs to know more about us. We would love to have more churches involved,” April Doshier, executive director of Food and Shelter, said.
NMM has been in operation since February 1994. The organization is comprised of about 10 churches in the Norman community and has a mission to fill in the gaps for people who don’t qualify for assistance because of federal regulations or they lack the proper documentation needed to qualify for federal services.
“To the people who come here (Food and Shelter) and are past crisis and are desperate, $250 can be the one little glimpse of hope that can begin the steps to really achieving something great. Just in this year alone, it’s benefited about 87 households,” Doshier said. “So 87 households, hundreds of men, women and children, who because of this collection of church’s investment in them, they have gotten some time to get jobs. They have been able to feel relief for just a few minutes so that they could think and regroup and build a plan and move forward. It reduces the burden on social services. It reduces the burden on all of the community services that would have to pick these folks up and help build them back up from scratch. It impacts our community in a ton of ways.”
The money collected for NMM is made up entirely of contributions from churches. Doshier is quick to add that Food and Shelter does not maintain any of these funds to support its agency as a whole.
“We use all of the dollars for direct assistance,” Doshier said.
Through the partnership, Food and Shelter caseworkers are able to move past obstacles in an individual’s life and pinpoint the problem.
“We really believe that people need more than a check to pay their rent. It’s so hard for church staff to maintain that constant relationship with people as they are working through the obstacles. We really can fill that relationship and maintain a follow-up and provide long-term care for the families that are working through their obstacles,” Doshier said. “Most of the church’s don’t have someone to shepherd people through. ‘How do I manage my funds?’ ‘How do I make good decisions?’ Money is a part of all of that, but here we are confident the money we give is not just used in a crisis situation, but to address the entire situation.”
David Spain, senior pastor of First Christian Church, sees the importance of NMM from the standpoint of a minister.
“They are getting close to desperate. Most churches don’t have a dedicated staff who can treat the person and the environment that has created this particular crisis. What we can do is put a Band-Aid on it,” Spain said. “But Norman Mission Ministries, and the money that we send there, becomes a part of a much more holistic response to the person and whatever the situation. If you are bleeding, you need a Band-Aid, but why are you bleeding? And we can only put on a Band-Aid in an individual church.”
Spain adds that from the church’s perspective, giving to NMM gives confidence that the money will be put to good use.
“The confidence of giving to an organization that is trusted and that knows the people who are the most needy because we know that money will be much more effectively shared than what we can do as an individual church. It’s nice to know that giving money to Norman Mission Ministries truly is unencumbered money that they have the freedom to do with that money that will fill in gaps better than we can,” Spain said.
Individuals who don’t attend a church, but who would like to contribute to NMM can do so by sending funds to Food and Shelter. Donations should be specified for Norman Mission Ministries.
Churches who would be interested in becoming a part of NMM can call Spain at 329-2192.