Mother Teresa of Branson

Jesus said, "no one is good - except God alone Luke 18:19', but it the last six years of reporting on Branson politics I'd be dumbfounded to find a person of greater report than Joan Orday Westfall.

In December, during her last month of service for Branson's Christian Action Ministries (CAM), Joan Ordway Westfall commented on the success of CAM's community outreach program boasting 691 needy Branson families served in December 2009 alone.

"There are a lot of people in Branson that love the Lord," credited Westfall for CAM's success.

Networking was a big part of Westfall's job at CAM and was always present with a sales pitch for CAM at Branson Chamber of Commerce mixers among other civic events. You might be asking what the sales pitch was. Westfall promised she could feed a family of five for a week on $25.

CAM's was created by 11 area churches in 1985 and currently recieves funding from local churches, government, businesses and individuals.

Away from the public view, Westfall notes that loving people and listening to members of the community in need bore the greatest fruits.

Outside of public appearances, fund-raising events and organizing campaigns there was a Westfall I witnessed that is worthy of sharing.

Everyday there are several hours of public meetings in Taney County. Often, I have been the sole member of the public for a legislative meeting. On one such night, I was attending a Hollister Alderman meeting. Except for myself, the meeting was void of both press and public attendees with the exception of those on the agenda.

Westfall was called to the podium by Hollister Mayor David Tate. Westfall's evening presence at the meeting wasn't to receive an over-sized cardboard check.

Hollister Alderman listened as Westfall told the story of one crippled woman in the city who needed equipment to gain mobility. Financially destitute the woman had no means of purchasing the equipment, Westfall pleaded the crippled woman's cause.

The city publicly negotiated with Westfall, who was successful in acquiring matching funds for the woman.

To date, I've seen countless individuals plead their cause to governmental bodies. I've watched people successfully reduce personal taxes and accrue money for their private businesses. But, I've never seen anyone take their evening to plead the case of one needy person.

Westfall recounts only the success of her public appearance.

The astounding success of CAM in providing resources to the needy is impressive, but ranks small with me compared to this one act of love from Joan Westfall - Branson's Mother Teresa.