In 2008, Bryan and Amy Stallings were no strangers to the recession. The couple were thankful to have kept their jobs, but saw so many others who did not. In that time, they became aware that many people were living in motels. And they felt called to host a Thanksgiving dinner for the displaced.
“We went to a couple of motels, thinking there were only a couple where people lived, but then we learned there were actually 25 motels with residents,” Bryan Stallings says.
Fifty people came to Thanksgiving dinner that year. During the meal, there were a lot of conversations, a lot of cleared misconceptions—and a new understanding of the circumstances in which their dinner guests were living.
“Maybe their transmission went out, and they couldn’t get to work, so they lost their jobs,” Bryan says.
The two started taking sack lunch meals to the motels and learned more about the needs of the residents. From those early conversations, different programs and services evolved. They started a bicycle program in 2010 and put bikes at the motels for people to use to get around town. After six weeks, 1,200 miles were put on those first bikes. With such overwhelming demand so quickly, it became clear that there were larger needs. Eventually, the Stallings met someone who knew of a program in Memphis that used scooters. “We started looking into it and thought, this could actually work here. The Branson area doesn’t have much by way of shoulders; we don’t have bike lanes really. Scooters are in the flow of traffic.”