New Parish Health Navigator program to help the under-resourced access services


Jamie Orlando

Winter is a stressful time for the under-resourced. High electric bills, difficulty finding transportation because it’s too cold to walk or bike, and added expenses are significant concerns. When basic needs such as access to food, heat, and transportation are threatened, many find it difficult to cope.

Fortunately, there are many organizations in our community to help people in need, but they can be overwhelming to navigate.

A new program aims to help bridge this gap. Through a partnership with Missouri State University, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department (SGCHD) has developed the Parish Health Navigator program. This program is designed to train members of local organizations and churches to identify the needs of fellow members and connect them to community resources.

“Those with people skills, compassion, problem-solving skills, and a desire to serve their community are great candidates for the program. The training equips parish health navigators with the tools to assess needs, make referrals and navigate the many resources available in Springfield and Greene County,” says Health Program Coordinator Cara Erwin, who oversees the program.

The program is modeled after the SGCHD’s Community Health Advocate program, which connects clients to resources such as health care, dental care, electric bill relief, food pantries, credit counseling and more. SGCHD’s goal is to expand resource navigation availability, providing multiple points of entry for those needing help finding services.

The SGCHD is piloting the project at Life360 Church and hopes to expand to additional churches within the next year.

“Our church loves to serve our community. We recently noticed that in all of the services we provide, health services were missing. However, we do not have experts in the field apart our congregation. This program empowers our people to offer the much-needed services and referrals to our neighbors.  We are thrilled to continue our partnership and see the service and involvement expand within our congregation,” said Jeremy Hahn, executive director of Life360 Church Community Services.

If your organization is interested in participating in or learning more about opportunities to better serve your members, please contact Jamie Orlando: 417-893-9609 or If you are in need of resources for yourself, please visit



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