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Dan Campbell—friend to the homeless, innovator in mission

Dan Campbell—friend to the homeless, innovator in mission

Dan Campbell

Dan Campbell, a familiar face in Pasco County, retired as director of development of Metropolitan Ministries of Pasco County in early June, where he was responsible for donor acquisition and cultivation.

Although he’s left his official duties, he’s determined to find ways to do God’s work in different ways, including teaching world religion at a community college.

His ministry legacy also includes the transformation of Community United Methodist Church in Holiday from a struggling congregation to a thriving mission for homeless families—Joining Hands Community Mission, Inc. And, that transformation was part of the seed for Metropolitan Ministries of Pasco County.

When Campbell arrived at Community UMC, there was a perfect storm of changes in the neighborhood including changes in the culture and the economic downturn, according to Nancy Dougherty, present director of Metropolitan Ministries of Pasco County. “Community UMC had to be radical. Something had to be done,” she said.

Campbell oversaw the transformation of Community UMC in summer 2008 when it became home for a 501c3 mission. Local volunteers, church members and others refocused their efforts in order to reach out and aid families in financial and spiritual ways. Campbell saw an opportunity in the dynamics of the church’s spirit inside the building and the surrounding community and wonderful hearts, Dougherty said.

“The church became re-born as a new entity and with a whole new way of relevance,” Dougherty said. “Dan was a leader, a mentor and a guide and has prepared others for taking over the reins. He has helped others prepare to be bold,” she said.

Since that beginning (in 2008), the organization has formed partnerships with the county, the state, other non-profits and surrounding churches. The original plan for helping families in trouble grew in many ways, including a $5 million expansion.

“It was quite a transition, but very successful,” said Campbell.

The mission has served many, many families in various ways, he noted. For example, 12,000 clients are helped during a year’s time, with 7,400 families getting food at Thanksgiving. On Sunday mornings, free breakfasts are served, and people are welcomed to stay for worship.

Today, the mission helps 24 families at a time for three to six months a year with housing in one of 12 apartments. A year from now, 50 to 75 families are expected to be helped, and there is a 93% rate of success with families able to remain independent once they leave, according to Campbell.

It costs $20 per person per day, so it takes $700,000 a year to make this all happen, but it’s worth it, he said, and it has been a “joy to be part of” the program.

In 2014, Campbell was honored with the Lightning Community Hero Award for his work with families struggling with homelessness and helping them make the transition to security. The help includes not only assistance paying utilities, rent or groceries, overnight or short-term housing, longer term housing, counseling, early childhood education, job training and finally, permanent housing.

In giving the award to Campbell in 2014, the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation stated that “more than 30,000 families have been helped since Dan brought in partners to help provide food, utility assistance, clothing, adult education and after school care in Pasco.”

Anne Dukes is interim editor for the Florida Conference.