A Blessing For Those Who Serve In Southeast Missouri

Michael Turner, M.Ed., formerly with the Ozark Family Resource Center, now serves as Great Circle's associate director of community-based services in Southeast Missouri. He was kind enough to share his up-close-and-personal perspective about a partnership four years ago that made a huge difference for the region where he and his wife live and raise their family.  

The memories I have of a partnership that began four years ago between the Ozark Family Resource Agency and Great Circle are a beautiful reminder of how blessed those of us serving kids and families in southeast Missouri truly are.

Five years ago, I joined the Ozark Family Resource Center, a small nonprofit in southeast Missouri to oversee its Child Advocacy Center (CAC).

I quickly learned that many small nonprofits face a lack of resources and stability. When I learned Great Circle was interested in working with OFRA, I became hopeful for families and children in southeast Missouri who so desperately need both.

The months that followed were daunting, yet exciting. I remember fretting over details, working through countless processes and procedures – all to ensure the good work would continue. When I look back at why we worked so hard to make this happen, my answer always comes back to the fact that everyone at Great Circle was working just as hard on behalf of our little agency.

Throughout the process, I met many Great Circle employees. We worked shoulder to shoulder through every challenge, every delay. We became family well before we became official family on November 16, 2017.

Joining with Great Circle brought a stability and support to the CAC and our Women's Crisis Shelter that we had never truly experienced. And it opened a region to Great Circle that had yet to be reached with critically needed services. Our new family was one of strong leadership, robust support departments and compassionate, knowledgeable staff. They were just as excited about us being there as we were to be there.

Fast forward to today – and a four-year anniversary. Great Circle has meant so much for expanded services for vulnerable families in Southeast Missouri. Our CAC and Women's Crisis Center have been enhanced beyond measure. We now address other crucial needs through foster care case management and an emergency youth shelter. And we’re especially proud to offer new home visiting services that work to keep families together, stronger. Our partnerships continue to thrive and grow.

I’m uncertain what things would have looked like if Great Circle hadn't taken a true interest in the amazing work our struggling little agency was accomplishing. They knew the grim statistics of Southeast Missouri, and they knew it wouldn’t be an easy road. But above it all, they saw the difference we could make together. We stood up and fought together for the hope of making that difference happen.

Today, I find myself with an agency that is dedicated to its mission, the children and families we are so privileged to serve and its employees. I am among the best people anyone could ask for – they are the true strength of Great Circle. I found a piece of something I never really knew had been missing: to be surrounded by a family of likeminded, compassionate professionals sharing a purpose in service to others. I’m proud to be part of Great Circle’s mission and a calling that has deep roots in service to vulnerable children and families.

It may have been chance that brought our agencies together, but it’s been the hard work and dedication of staff and leaders that fully established Great Circle as a leading service provider in southeast Missouri.

I’m thankful every day for the opportunity to help lead the growth of services here. There is still so much work to be done.