Your Giving Has Changed the lives of Thousands in 2016!

Each year I am amazed at what our staff, generous donors and dedicated volunteers accomplish in partnership with our clients and neighbors on Troost. It is no small thing day in and day out to walk alongside our most vulnerable community members to reveal their strengths. And yet, each morning our doors open and people come in for help, for warmth, and for hope.

You have made a difference in the lives of so many by enabling RS to care for over 5,150 unduplicated individuals this year!

This year also brought new staff, a newly remodeled RS Cafe and commercial kitchen, an improved Troost Jazz and Soul Experience fundraiser, and renewed vision for our work.

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Hospitality Services
The RS Cafe is where neighbors first receive hospitality like hot, nutritious food at our Friday Night Meal, and enjoy coffee in our Internet Cafe. Now, with our remodeled RS Cafe space, we have a more uplifting and safe environment to complement our work. Upgrading our kitchen and pantry to meet commercial standards further supports our efforts to grow the RS Internet Café into a “Pay What You Can” RS Cafe at 31st and Troost, opening in 2017.

Your gifts to RS in support of our Hospitality Services

  • helped feed over 3,000 individuals and 1,700 households through our pantry, including 600 children
  • served over 12,500 meals through Friday night meal program
  • provided free gigabit speed internet and the only public computers on Troost
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Emergency Social Services
Our work to reveal the strengths of those we serve often begins with some form of emergency social services, whether people are in need of an ID and birth certificate, rent and utilities assistance, medicine or medical supplies, urgent dental or vision care, or in-depth case management. Triaging immediate needs helps lower barriers to self-sufficiency and connects clients with trained caseworkers.

Your gifts to RS in support of our Emergency Social Services

  • provided medical assistance to over 1,000 totalling over $200,000 in care
  • helped launch our I’D BE Campaign to raise awareness about the many reasons people need an ID
  • helped us secure over 1,200 IDs, birth certificates and work permits to help people get jobs, housing, education and other public services.

Therapeutic Services
Beyond working to address immediate challenges our neighbors face every day, is the ongoing, deep healing from trauma that must happen. Through our Therapeutic Services, we have adopted what we call our “stealth mental health” program that uses group and individual therapy as well as intensive case management to create a supportive and encouraging network of people to promote healing and reconciliation for themselves.

Your gifts to RS in support of our Therapeutic Services

  • gave 75 men and women suffering from trauma access to our caring therapists and case managers
  • provided 800 hours of group therapy and 500 hours of individual therapy to those who would have gone untreated otherwise
  • helped bring these neighbors together to support each other in creating an ecosystem of healing in Kansas City’s most challenging neighborhoods.

Economic Community Building Services
Finding sustainable income and meaningful work is critical for revealing the community’s strength and stopping the cycle of poverty. Our Economic Community Building Services are aimed at creating opportunities for growth and stability by offering digital survival classes, self-sufficiency workshops, deepening community involvement for our seniors, and creating jobs.

Your gifts in support of the RS Economic Community Building Services

  • helped 106 low-income senior citizens share their hearts and wisdom with over 350 children in 31 schools, hospitals and civic agencies across Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties
  • provided jobs for over 285 people through Resolve Staffing, an RS Social Ventures company
  • created 31,000+ billable hours, paying $9-$12.50/hr to neighbors (mostly east of Troost) in various food service, hospitality, packaging and maintenance jobs in KC

With your very generous support in 2016 RS walked alongside our most vulnerable neighbors and provided social, therapeutic and economic community building services to more people than ever before. We are deepening our collaboration with the 12+ neighborhoods east of Troost and their resident leaders. We are even reaching further east and south in KCMO to places where help is harder to find. Thank you!

You helped us take the next steps in our vision of transforming Troost from a dividing line to a gathering place of hope and reconciliation. Please join with us in making 2017 a year of reconciliation and hope again by continuing to support RS generously at year-end.  

For those we serve
Fr. Justin Mathews, Executive Director of Reconciliation Services

Charity and Veneration!

“Charity is so called because we give it even to the unworthy.” —St. John Chrysostom

Before coming to Kansas City and working at RS, I was a professional artist and lover of interesting and obscure music. The thing that any artist or lover of obscure music begins to understand is that there is tension that happens when opposing aspects of a piece of art, work with each other. This is a concept that someone has to grasp in order to appreciate any work of art; not just for what makes that work of art intriguing, but to understand its maker's intention in creating it. Surprisingly, I have found that this same concept is the key to an understanding of the work that we do on 31st and Troost.

When my family and I first arrived in Kansas City, I was asked by a good friend who was visiting us from California, “what is success going to look like?” This seemingly simple question was in fact a multi-faceted inquiry that consisted of several months of deep conversation between the two of us on issues such as class, race, the distinction between religion and spirituality, and if there was purpose in poverty. Needless to say, I could only answer with a long pause and an honest, “I don’t know!” At the moment those three words left my lips, I realized something that was simultaneously painful and yet liberating. Everything that I thought I knew about ‘poverty,’ everything that I thought I knew about the ‘poor,’ and everything that I thought were the ‘answers’ were really just speculation and theory. All of the theories and speculations I came to Kansas City with were undone and proven inadequate in the presence of the flesh and blood icons of Christ that I was now face to face with in my work at RS!

At this point allow me to state the obvious. The Icons I see on the walls in my parish and in my home don’t display the effects of generational poverty. They don’t suffer from the fallout of years of addiction or even worse being born with developmental issues due to the addiction of the mother who gave them birth. They don’t fail to say, “please” or “thank you” when we provide them with the help they have asked for. The Icons I see in church show me what the Kingdom of Heaven is, but the icons of flesh and blood in midtown KC show me who the Kingdom of Heaven is for. 

When I began to understand that the issues of the community we serve at RS are the fruit of generational poverty, and what that really is, I began to understand why the bible speaks so much on the service and protection of the poor. Generational poverty rips at the fabric of society by placing families and individuals in systemic and prolonged crisis. This perpetual state of crisis is often the catalyst and sustaining agent for trauma for both these groups and the communities they constitute. 

Lets be clear; when talking about the life of trauma that characterizes generational poverty, we are not talking about a few bad choices here or there, some bad luck or the results of laziness, we are talking about horrors and tragedies that are consistent, prevalent and soul destroying on a community level. Ultimately, when I look at the individual stories and issues facing the community we serve, what is common for all of them is not so much a level of need, or that they may or may not be of agreeable disposition; rather, it is the harsh fact that they all recognize that they are human beings in need which goes beyond their ability to help themselves. The thing I have begun to understand is that charity given to those who I find pleasant isn’t charity. Often the real work is learning how to help those who by their behavior don’t seem to deserve help. This is exactly where tension comes into play.

For many in the modern world, the cross has become a symbol of oppression, bigotry and injustice; moreover, one could say that the association of these terrible acts with the cross of Christ is valid. I for one am actually inclined to agree. The caveat I would offer though, is that it is precisely these acts of hatred and injustice that make the cross so powerful. It is in the command given by Christ to those who would be his disciples to actually love those who would spitefully use you, to forgive those who would treat you as an enemy, and to give to those who ask, that reveals the transformative power in charity. Anything else simply serves to make someone feel good about themselves. 

If there is a solution to generational poverty, it lies in the understanding that we must see the tension that is necessary to produce real change, and that tension is the commitment to help the individual, not according to whether they are worthy or not, or whether they were pleasant and polite. Dr. Martin Luther King profoundly stated, that hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can do that. Initially I was driven by a desire to see a large, sweeping change. It’s the idea that one at a time will not cut it. But a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and each person we serve is a link in a larger chain. I see now that the right idea is to focus on the link and not the chain.

Whether it is through direct services or simply being present with them, by being a healing presence for those who have been cut off by society at large and even their own families, we seek to affect a larger change by focusing on the person, where they’re at and as they are. These are the very people we are committed to serve. These are the people falling through the cracks. It’s never easy, but we believe this is the key to helping the community. 

Article by Fr. Deacon Turbo Qualls, Reconciliation Services