She’s back … and Melodie Chrisman couldn’t be happier.
After spending the past few months as the assistant vice president of income support for the Community Services League at the Independence location, she is back as the site manager for the CSL locations in Blue Springs, Oak Grove, Buckner and Independence, while maintaining the vice president’s role and responsibilities.
On a Wednesday morning, sitting at her desk at the Blue Springs location, a familiar face enters her office and extends her hand.
Chrisman breaks into a smile that lights up the entire office while giving her visitor a hug.
“We’re so glad you’re back. We missed you,” the visitor says.
Chrisman knows this is where she was meant to be, and whispers, “This is heaven on earth.
“I enjoyed my time in Independence, but I need to be at a place where I can help some people – and give some hugs,” said Chrisman.
“This is where I was meant to be. We want to assure our residents continue to get all the services we offer to help them get back on their feet.”
And those services are varied, including helping neighbors improve their household income, their net worth, credit scores and overall self sufficiency by providing assistance in counseling on a wide variety of issues.
Data from www.cslcares.org show that families enrolled in CSL programs are four times more likely to establish some type of financial stability through income support, financial coaching, employment services and housing counseling than someone who tries to make it on their own.
“I know some people think of the CSL as a food pantry, and we are that, but now, we are so much more,” she explains, as volunteers help three individuals in the outer room filled with food supplies, clothing and other basic necessities
“We want to help people get back on their feet. And that’s why I love what I do. To have someone walk into my office in need, and walk out with a plan, and a smile on their face – well, you know how that makes me feel. It makes me feel incredible.”
When Chrisman meets a new individual in need of help, she offers basic advice:
“First, we want to determine the problem, the need,” she said. “Then, we go about working with them to solve their problem. We don’t want to just give them a grocery bag of food and think their problem is going away.”
“We want to offer counseling, how to do a budget, we want them to invested in helping themselves, and if they are willing to do that, we can help.”
As she talks about the principles of success, Chrisman looks out at the volunteer staff that is helping those in need.
“We have the most amazing staff,” she said. “They save us about $775,000 a day – and they are all so caring, and they know what they’re doing. They are one of the big reasons we are so successful and why anyone who walks through our doors feel so comfortable.”
It’s also a nice, warm retreat if you just need a hug or a welcoming smile.
Community Services League
200 S.W. 10th Street, Blue Springs
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, Friday 9 a.m. to noon
Items most needed: Pasta sauce, canned meat, soup, stuffing, Jello, Jiffy Corn Mix, any type of helper meal