JOPLIN, Mo. —
James Whitford, co-founder of Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission in Joplin, was recently elected to the board of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, which represents more than 300 rescue missions nationwide.
Whitford said he will be representing a seven-state region on the board for a three-year term.
The missions in the organization serve thousands of meals per day and provide lodging for thousands of people each year, he said. Many also run drug recovery programs that graduate about 18,000 people annually.
Whitford said the missions also work to alleviate poverty in the communities where they are located.
“It’s quite an honor to serve in this capacity,” he said.
Whitford and his wife, Marsha, founded Watered Gardens more than 13 years ago as a day outreach for homeless and low-income residents of Joplin. The mission at 531 S. Kentucky Ave. expanded to offer a 30-bed men’s shelter. It recently dedicated a 7,000-square-foot addition that includes a 10-bed women’s shelter, a chapel, a classroom and an expanded kitchen.
The mission also provides clothing and household items, and operates a Worth Shop, where people have an opportunity to make creative products that can be sold. Those items are sold in Joplin at the Upstairs Boutique, 502 S. Main St., and The Wild Flower, 1832 E. 32nd St.
“We’ve learned a lot about how to help the poor by not giving a handout but by giving them a hand up, and reminding them that they have potential and worth,” Whitford said.
WATERED GARDENS is funded by private donations as well as support from churches.