JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Caring People, which uses the theme, "Walking the love of Jesus into the hearts of single moms," began a Joplin chapter with an informational meeting in 2010, and despite being blown off course by the 2011 tornado, the group is now seeing a resurgence.
After establishing several support groups for Joplin-area mothers late last year, the Branson-based ministry recently named LaDonna Hodges the Joplin area city chairwoman.
Hodges said she and the ministry seek to share the love of God through his word.
"I believe we can do this by becoming partners with area churches and in teaching God's word to our single moms and their children," she said.
The connection with churches is important because, according to Caring People statistics, 95 percent of single moms are not involved in a church family. Statistics also show that one in three homes in America is headed by a single mother.
Karen Sinn, field representative for Joplin, Monett, Kansas City, Jefferson City and Columbia, said Caring People has always stressed the importance of care groups in each community.
The ministry is all about a lasting support system for single moms so they no longer feel isolated or judged. The weekly care groups offer them a chance to rely on each other for spiritual support, guidance and resources.
Sinn, who lives in Columbia, said it is her job to find group leaders in each community and then walk alongside them for a year or two until they can sustain the ministry on their own.
She said two new groups were started in Joplin upon completion of training last October.
Along with a recent garage sale to raise funds and a get-together for single moms last month at Abundant Life Christian Center in Joplin, Caring People is hoping to have a citywide event for single mothers in the fall.
JoDee Herschend founded the Caring People ministry in 1997 after revealing that she received a vision from God where she saw a walled city that had no gates with people inside milling about with no vision, purpose or strength.
The Branson woman said God showed her two holes being punched into the walls and people climbing out over the rubble. The people were like children at recess who were purposeful and full of joy, she said.
Herschend's direction from God was to start a company with the mission statement: "To create an awareness of and a desire to meet Jesus."
Her only question was what group of people should be targeted.
She got the answer through her husband, Pete, part of Herschend Family Entertainment, which owns Silver Dollar City in Branson.
Pete has always known the importance of targeting a specific audience, according to his wife. With the knowledge that Caring People would be a ministry to a large group of people who carried much influence, JoDee decided on single mothers.
The original focus of Caring People was to reach single moms through radio ads in which women were encouraged to call an 800-number, and it was through those telephone responses that the ministry found single moms eager to meet face-to-face with a mentor.
Besides the Caring People Web site, www.thecaringpeople.org, or email at email@example.com, you may get more information by calling the ministry's office in Branson at 417-334-0131. Hodges may be reached at 417-622-2730 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email richbrown @cableone.net.