The Den, which opened at 404 E. Broadway in 2009, relies on volunteers to staff the facility three days a week and for funding.
Stephen Morrison, treasurer of the organization, opened the presentations by speaking about joining the board of directors. Talking to board members, Morrison said he heard the values that resonated with his passions.
Three core values stand at the center of The Den's effort, Morrison said. A clear vision and direction from God is essential in such an outreach, Morrison said.
Kelly Cloud, who has served on The Den board from the beginning, said many youth centers close after a few years. As a mother of four living in the country, Cloud said she has clearly seen young people need a place to go.
Those who are seniors at Monett High School now were freshmen when The Den opened. Graduates have come back to serve as volunteers. Cloud said the consistent vision has continued, especially through volunteers of different ages giving time and opportunities to get to know different people.
Whenever The Den is open or appears to be open, there are young people wanting to come in. Cloud told about a young man who came into a meeting before the center opened one day, trying to find a solution for his worn out shoes before school started. Director Brian Smith happened to have an extra pair, that boy's size, in his car. Such connections are possible, Cloud said, because The Den is there.
Morrison continued by noting vision needs people to carry the mission forward. The community helps in practical ways, with verbal support in telling others about the Den, through financial support and acting as volunteers.
Monett High School Principal David Steward has shared research that shows students with multiple non-parental adults in their lives are more likely to succeed. Steward asked MHS faculty to identify students who would benefit from more relationships. Morrison said The Den offers a vehicle for developing those relationships.
Sara Webb, a teen who attends The Den regularly, said the facility has become "my second family." Unlike herself, she knew there were teens who don't have family meals together .
"At The Den, they know we care," Webb said. "They show us how to have uncompromised love."
Morrison said transformation is the fourth core initiative at The Den. Relationships offer guidance that change lives.
"The Den is not going to be a church, but if you come to The Den, you will find God's love," Morrison said. "As a board, we are committed to go the distance to see kids have the opportunity to be transformed."
Morrison described the Mission 180 effort, which seeks 180 businesses and individuals to give $15 a month, or $180 a year, to support The Den. A total of 280 donors of that size would provide the $50,000 a year needed to run the center.
Providing entertainment for the evening was singer and songwriter Trent Monk, a frequent performer in Branson. Monk's wife, Shelly, provided percussion accompaniment to Monk's guitar playing.
Sponsors for the dinner included: Jack Henry and Associates; EFCO, a Pella company; Mocha Jo's, Wintech, PTC, Lady Wisdom, Dr. Frank Shirley, Architectural System, Ozark Christian Church, International Dehydrated Foods, Crosslines, Liberty United Methodist Church, the Rainmakers' Christian Sports Ministry, Neal Messer, the CPA Group, Community National Bank, accountant Nick Myers, Monett Animal Clinic, Schreiber Foods and Monett Church of the Nazarene.
The dinner was catered by Prime Cut.