McCollister, Barbara B. and Robert Paul
1933 - 2014
Barbie, of Grosse Pointe, MI, lived in Omaha, NB, before relocating to Evergreen in 1983 with husband Paul, originally of Iowa City, Iowa. They came to Evergreen with intentions to start a renewal center where fellow Christians could visit and get refreshed.
As members of Evergreen Fellowship, they participated in early non-denominational efforts to provide a food pantry for the needy in the Evergreen community, an effort initiated by Church of the Transfiguration and headed by one of their members, Bob Bunch. Barbie was hired part time as the first Executive Director in 1985; and Paul served as Vice President of the Board initially, later as President. They worked together as a team putting in countless hours.
The organized effort became known as Evergreen Christian Outreach and soon involved participation by all 21 churches in Evergreen at that time. At the start, it provided a food bank and a clothing bank for a dozen or so needy families in the area. Space was provided to Evergreen Christian Outreach by Church of the Transfiguration in two of the historic buildings on the church campus. By 1995 clientele would grow to about 250 families and involve all 23 of the churches in the community. In 2010 the organization assisted an average of 305 families/month and recorded 7,571 client visits during the year; a resale store in North Evergreen helped to provide a steady income stream.
In 1991, a secondary nonprofit was formed to accommodate the donation of used vehicles to be fixed and used in one of several ways: helping to provide transportation to the same clientele served by Evergreen Christian Outreach, sold for scrap, or to be fixed and sold so the money could be poured back into the overall effort. The most feasible alternative was giving the repaired vehicles to people in need because, in the board's assessment, without reliable transportation, no job was possible in the mountain area. The latter organization became known as Evergreen Christian Mission Station, and Paul served as President.
As fellow EChO volunteer Katie Stoner put it, "Barbie and Paul were the 'real deal' – authentic lovers of God, of people. They walked what they talked."
In 1996 the McCollisters were invited by the Episcopal Church in Buena Vista, CO, to start a similar effort to help the needy there; they have been active with the Arkansas Valley Christian Mission Station since 1997.
A followup note: Jim Benson and Gordon Wyant started Evergreen Christian Outreach with the Episcopal priest in the fall of 1987. Jim and Gordon then moved their office to a small building on the the Episcopal campus where they started giving out food and clothing. With help and money from the Evergreen Fellowship they remodeled the building putting in a furnace and shelving. The Fellowship paid to hire Barbie McCollister then to handle the increasing work load. Bill Flansburg volunteered to be the accountant for the organization. Paul McCollister was a major volunteer.