(Branson, Mo.---05/03/18) Poverty is a major concern for communities across the Tri Lakes area. Which is why organizations are uniting with a new collaboration to ensure that officials with agencies that can help are on the same page, as they work toward the same goal.

Current poverty rate of Stone County is at nearly 15% and Taney County is 17% . That's why a new collaboration is aiming to galvanize the faith community, non profits, businesses, and government to fight poverty.

"We know there’s an issue, we’re working to quantify those issues, but we know we want to also be prepared and not let it get worse," explains Marietta Hagan, Coordinator with the Population Health Department, CoxHealth. 

Hagan says no one person or organization can solve the areas poverty, or any other problem--alone.

"I think that we will accomplish so much more because of that because awareness and knowledge is really what we need to get out there both about our poverty issue and about substance use and misuse."

That's why four entities like Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB, Silver dollar City Foundation, CoxHealth and Elizabeth Hughes, Executive Director for Christian Action Ministries are addressing the issues that come from poverty.

"I have a unique perspective because I’m in the trenches working with people and when I’m seeing numbers like 3,600 people coming in for food in one month. I mean that shows there’s an issue. That people are needing help with their basic of needs," adds Hughes. 

But John Baltes, President, Silver Dollar City Foundation says it's not just about providing goods, it's about teaching people how to break the cycle and leave poverty behind with the help of the church.

"You turn to him, he knows what his plans are for the community, he knows what plans are for each family, and if we can tap into that then we feel we have a much better plan of moving forward," explains Baltes. 

By building relationships with the different groups serving the Tri Lakes area, organizers hope to get everyone at the same table, communicating about how best to help the community.

"If we’re going to have families thriving in this community and that means all families, regardless of socio-economic levels then we’d love to have the church take the charge in mobilizing the community to do that."

Below is more information on how you can join in on the fight against poverty.

Stone and Taney Counties Substance Abuse Initiative, Brandei Clifton, 417-335-7460.

Imagine Families Thriving, John Baltes, 417-336-7077.

5 in Five, Grant Sloan, 417-844-3633.

Community Assessment of Poverty, Elizabeth Hughes, 417-527-0399.