Feb. 1, 2019 – With all the success stories the Good Samaritan Center clients have shown throughout the years, one thing remains constant, the client receives the credit, not the center.
The success comes from God, Executive Director Martha Buckman said, and the client worked to make the change, the center just provided the tools. Buckman said she feels this to be an important component of what the center does for the community. It helps the clients to truly become successful.
“If they’re dependent on someone else for their success, they’ll never be successful,” she said.
Even though Buckman refuses to accept any of the credit for the client’s success stories, many still see her as a pillar to the Excelsior Springs community.
Laura Blevins, pastor of the First United Methodist Church, said not only does Buckman lead the GSC staff with grace and purpose, but she also cares deeply about the community.
“I can’t tell you the number of times Martha has gone above and beyond in a situation to help a local family in need,” she said.
Bob Gerdes worked as the executive director before Buckman took over the position. He said he describes her as a good Christian and a team player.
“She’s done an awesome job,” he said.
Buckman began working at GSC in 1989 as a caseworker. Throughout the years, she moved from that position to overseeing the food pantry and served as the housing coordinator for the transitional house for six years. She also worked as the social services director before assuming her current position in December 2011. Now, Buckman plans to retire at the end of March.
She said the center became a major part of her life over the years. The job required her to guide the center in, not only providing the basic needs but changing as the needs and the local economy changed. The hope, she said, always involved working to provide the best services for their clients.
“You kind of eat, sleep, think Good Sam and the people that we serve and how to keep it going for the community,” she said.
Throughout the years, she watched babies grow up and have babies of their own. She said at times, she watched
three generations pass through the center.
The job allowed her to see her clients successes and celebrate with them. The job also caused her to feel the pain and struggle of others, she said.
Buckman said she remembers many or her clients throughout the years, many of whom stop in to say hello or stop and speak with her while out in the community.
Many of her fondest memories, she said, came from her time working with the transitional housing program.
The program allows clients to live in their triplex for up to a year. The center paid the bills and the clients saved all their money. The program, she said, helped the clients with their goal of homeownership.
One client came to the program from a mobile home with faulty wiring. Buckman said the client’s doctor suggested the woman do something that made her feel good to help ease the woman’s depression. The woman’s first thought involved going out and purchasing a television set, Buckman said.
As she went through the program she really began to recognize what that meant and where real happiness came from.
She came back to visit Buckman a few years later. Buckman said the woman told her she still used the tools Buckman taught her about budgeting.
This may not be seen as much of a success to others in the community, Buckman said, but often the successes came in small changes the clients made to improve their lives.
The client made the change, she said, Buckman simply served as the cheerleader.
The successes could not be possible without the staff and volunteers. Together, they watch clients overcome struggles and continue to move forward. The successes would also not be possible without the support Buckman said she received from the community.
“It takes the community support,” she said. “They’ve been very kind and supporting to me in this position. It would be my hope for that to continue.”
Gerdes said he agrees and hopes the center finds another good Christian team player like Buckman to help GSC continue forward. He said he learned while in the position that God solved the problems, and Buckman continued following God’s guidance.
Blevins said she considers Buckman a friend and a mentor.
“I am a better person having known and worked with her,” she said. “Martha embodies what it means to be a Christian who reaches out to the ‘least, last and lost.’”