On Thursday, March 25th, members tuned in online to YouTube to watch the 2021 Annual Meeting & Impact Awards.
What Are the Community Impact Awards?
The Community IMPACT Awards were created in 2018 by the Chamber to recognize a company or organization going above and beyond their normal scope of business to help the community and/or their employees.
Who Are the Community Impact Winners?
Impact Center Schools
The Impact Center Schools Program has a goal of ending student homelessness in the Center School District. The program provides education, case management, and financial support to help families overcome their individual barriers to finding and successfully staying in affordable, dignified, and permanent housing. At any point in time, the program is working with between 30 and 40 families. During 2020, in spite of a pandemic that limited face to face interaction, the Program successfully placed twelve families who were homeless at the beginning of the year into safe and permanent housing. The impact on the families is dramatic, providing stability for the student which leads to improved health, mental health, social stability, and academic achievement.
This program is one of many steps to enhance the quality of life in South Kansas City by stabilizing living conditions. In addition to placing the families, Impact Center Schools purchased two houses that will continue to be good quality, affordable housing for many years in the future. Part of the vision for the program is to support both private and public funding to increase the stock of affordable housing in the Center School District community.
A.L. Huber General Contractor
A.L. Huber General Contractor cannot imagine living and working in this great city without giving back. Their team is dedicated to participating in individual or community events that make Kansas City such a great place in which to live and work.
Whether it is constructing a facility that will help a charity achieve their mission or serving individually with time and talents in a variety of ways such as hauling mattresses to area kids that do not have beds or renovating a basement into a teen center for a local transitional home that serves the homeless, they will not stop giving back to this great community that has given them so much in the past 111 years.
The past three school years they have partnered with the Center School District Alternative School through Caring for Kids. During this time, they have done many things to encourage staff and students to achieve their goals including providing monthly snacks for staff; socks, coats, and notes of encouragement/recognition for students; and in non-pandemic times they hosted a lunch-time celebration where students and staff enjoyed root beer floats and cookies and every student also received a gift card.
Other volunteer and support efforts provided by the A.L. Huber team include providing Christmas gifts and a Christmas day meal to children and mothers at Newhouse Shelter, serving meals to the resident of the Good Samaritan Society, providing clothing and gift donations to Healing House as well as volunteering on work days, volunteering for Sleepyhead Beds, volunteering for Inclusion Connections and volunteering for Community Assistance Council’s annual Christmas store.
Community Assistance Council
Last year was unprecedented for Community Assistance Council and the need, the record-breaking number of calls, the volume of requests to the organization was, at times, overwhelming. South Kansas City was hit hard by pandemic-related job and income losses, however, throughout the year CAC provided food, hygiene items, diapers and rent and utility assistance to thousands of people, many of whom were brand new to any kind of assistance.
In January, Nob Hill apartments residents were to be displaced because the complex failed multiple inspections and CAC leaned in to help. They arranged meetings, found resources, and helped 44 families attain new, safer housing.
In March, when the world shifted, CAC pivoted to curbside pre-packed food boxes distribution, closed their clothing closet and in-person client services, and focused on the highest priorities – keeping people in homes, with working light, heat (or AC) and water, and keeping food on the table.
In 2020 7,400 individuals/1,583 families were served by the programs provided by CAC. Over 5,860 people received meals to avoid hunger, 276 families were able to maintain a basic quality of life with heat, AC, and water through emergency utilities assistance, 178 families avoided homelessness through emergency rent assistance or temporary shelter, 4,940 individuals received hygiene items and 283 individuals received transportation assistance.
Also, in 2020, with support from Children’s Services Fund of Jackson County and United Way, CAC rolled out the Empower program. For Hickman Mills families, the program provides services and long-term case management to reduce student mobility, improve mental health, and set and achieve family goals around education and employment.
During the pandemic, First Call’s Reentry Program served approximately 117 people impacted by the justice system, an impressive feat given that the agency switched to virtual service delivery on March 13, 2020 and were no longer allowed in correctional centers.
In 2020, the team helped over 25 clients find gainful employment, and assisted four with applying for SSI/SSDI support. The Reentry Program also partnered with nine sober living facilities, five employment/training partners, as well as ReDiscover and Truman Medical Center for mental health needs. The partnerships and people served have continued to grow and expand in 2020. Their motto being “it truly takes a community!” The Reentry team pivoted quickly, adding an additional Recovery Advocate, to help bring services into the jails remotely. In 2020, not only did they find a way to maintain a remote presence with the Kansas City Municipal Drug Court, but the program expanded to include the Kansas City Reentry Center and Clay County Detention Center. And, as if that were not impressive enough, providing services virtually through telephone and telehealth allowed the team to expand the program to assist individuals releasing from jails or prisons to four additional Kansas City metro counties. The team was able to expand to these counties as the successful remote service delivery provided staff with the confidence to support clients in creative ways, such as engaging through phone calls and Zoom and relying on community partnerships.
In June, staff members were given the choice to meet with clients in-person, utilizing PPE, social distancing, and meeting clients outdoors. Again, creatively, many staff members began meeting with clients in parks and outside of transitional housing centers, always eager to serve the community. Further, this year, the Reentry team Lead, Keith Faison and the Reentry Program Coordinator, Kelli Jo Parr alongside Reentry Counselor and Reentry Recovery Advocate, Kris Rochelle, created and facilitated two breakout sessions on “Reducing Recidivism and Sustaining Recovery.” during the Kansas Opioid Summit.
Suburban Lawn & Garden
Suburban Lawn and Garden was started in 1950 by Bill Stueck as a lawn mowing business when he was in grade school. Since then the company has grown into a multi-faceted retail, wholesale and service organization dedicated to the principles of growing superior products, providing excellent service, and always delivering great value.
They not only sell trees, shrubs and bedding plants, the Stueck family is also very committed to supporting local charitable organizations and environmental stewardship in the area. One organization that has greatly benefited from Suburban’s passion for helping others is Cornerstones of Care, which has a physical presence in South KC through its Ozanam Campus. From giving in-kind donations, work experiences for their youth, and providing financial support, Suburban has supported Cornerstones of Care for the last 20 years. Most recently, Suburban Lawn & Garden has remained a primary sponsor for their annual Disc Golf Tournament, which was founded by Bill Stueck in 2008. The event is held on the Stueck’s private disc golf course, which is used by multiple charities for tournaments throughout the year. Since its inception, the Disc Golf Tournament, has raised over $175,000. Other charities that benefit from the Stueck’s disc golf course include Hope Faith Ministries, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Tom Karlin Foundation among others.
The Stueck family also has a passion for conservation and this is evident through their support of the Kansas Land Trust which works to preserve native wildlife habitats and The Missouri Prairie Foundation which protects native grasslands in Missouri.
Other organizations supported by Suburban Lawn and Garden include The Nelson Art Gallery, Overland Park Arboretum and Powell Gardens and during the summer they often hold Charities Nights on Friday nights allowing the designated charity to invite their customers and supporters to Suburban for an evening of shopping and food after which 10% of gross profits are donated back to the charity.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IMPACT AWARD WINNER
Regneir Family Wonderscope Children’s Museum
Wonderscope’s decision to relocate and expand its inclusive, family-friendly children’s museum to Red Bridge Shopping Center has made an extraordinary impact on the entire Kansas City metro, and South Kansas City in particular, two-fold.
First and foremost, Wonderscope provides an unparalleled learning experience for children and adults alike. Their mission, “To spark a lifelong love of learning through the universal and uniting power of play!” is made accessible to all through various grants, programs, and partnerships. Our children and students have never before had such immediate access to a state-of-the-art resource, designed just for them.
Secondarily is the number of visitors, new and old, Wonderscope draws to South Kansas City. Families from across the metro and beyond have one more fantastic reason to visit our thriving community. As Wonderscope continues to draw patrons to the museum, South Kansas City benefits from their visit. Potential customers are being exposed to the unique retail and restaurant offerings of South Kansas City. Young families and individuals are exploring our nearby neighborhoods and visitors from afar are remembering the convenience and amenities provided by South Kansas City’s ideal location.
Wonderscope is an invaluable recruitment tool for showcasing all the SKC has to offer potential new businesses and residents alike and the announcement of their relocating to South Kansas City was a catalyst for many of the new businesses in Red Bridge Shopping Center today.
COMMUNITY IMPACT HERO AWARD WINNERS
The last three award recipients received a special award, the Community Impact Hero Award. This award was created by our selection committee to recognize the health care workers that have worked tirelessly for the past year to take care of COVID patients and keep our community safe and healthy. They are:
Saint Luke’s Health System
St. Joseph Medical Center
Who Is The Big Community Impact Winner?
Once all nominations were received and reviewed, our secret Chamber judges narrowed down the top submissions for YOU, our Chamber members and community leaders, to vote for a BIG COMMUNITY IMPACT Winner via the Chamber’s Facebook page. This year’s recipient is…
Impact Center Schools!
Way to go Impact Center Schools! Thank you for your efforts and continued support of the community!