A ministry that has been reaching out to area homeless people for the past two years is taking its outreach one step farther.

A ministry that has been reaching out to area homeless people for the past two years is taking its outreach one step farther.
Serving on the Streets Ministries (S.O.S.) began its latest endeavor, Grace Acres, last year and recently revealed plans to expand from a half-acre garden plot to a 104-acre farm between Diamond and Joplin.
Grace Acres, established as a raised bed garden at the corner of Central and Railroad streets in Joplin, is a self-sustaining garden aimed at providing food to homeless or severely impoverished people. The garden helps people develop life skills as they grow their own food.
“We want to help people come out of that impoverished lifestyle but we don’t want to be another Band-Aid place where we slap a Band-Aid on them, pat them on the back and say ‘good job,” said Jonathan Sprinkles, coordinator of Grace Acres. “We want this to be a permanent fix from the inside out...that is, with the Lord, with Jesus.”
Grace Acres, as part of the non-profit S.O.S. Ministries, serves as a place of hope, teaching, learning, love and restoration, according to the S.O.S. website.
In addition to operating the garden, S.O.S. provides a free meal to the homeless or anyone in the community at 2 p.m. each Sunday at Impact Life Church, 2231 Annie Baxter Ave., Joplin, as well as at  the Cardinal Towers, 324 N. Tom St., Webb City, at 6 p.m. each Tuesday.
The overall vision of Grace Acres goes far beyond the present half-acre plot, which has been temporarily donated for use, said Sprinkles.
“Our vision is to be a self-sustaining farm that houses 10 homeless families, as well as those of our ministry, to teach and do the day-to-day operations,” he said. “We will teach job trades and skills to get families back on their feet.”
Sprinkles said that the idea is for families to stay at the farm six months to a year before going out on their own.
The ministry recently began a fundraising campaign of $500,000 to buy the farm and carry out its mission.
“Our ultimate goal is to raise this money in six months, which would be the complete purchase of the farm, which has two houses on it and is ready to go,” Sprinkles said.
Both business and church sponsorships are being sought, as well as individuals to help out..
The garden plan is to raise everything, such as vegetables and fruit, that the families will consume and even have more to sell to support the ministry. Everyone on the farm will have a job, such as milking cows, feeding the animals or tending to the crops.
Another positive aspect will be the effects of the farm environment itself.
“Farm kids and their families have a completely different set of values and we want to instill some of these values in our families,” Sprinkles said.
David Gregory, who works with children in the S.O.S. Ministries, said youngsters can play a big part in Grace Acres and get a lot of help themselves in doing so.
Although Grace Acres emphasizes getting people back on their feet, the ministry first and foremost is to lead people to Christ, said Sprinkles, who added that God gave them the vision for the project two years ago.
Anyone wishing to help may call Sprinkles at (417) 680-6221 or visit S.O.S. online: www.serve outpoursacrifice.com.