A ribbon-cutting was held to celebrate a new and expanded Northland Community Assistance Center May 20 in the Northland.
The center will continue a 30-year tradition of serving families in need from Metro Lutheran Ministry at St. James Lutheran Church, 1100 N.E. Vivion Road, Kansas City, North.
With the new Northland Service Center, the mostly volunteer staff will have a more spacious and efficient location to serve the community, said Jeani Wells, center manager.
“I worked at the old center, which was located in a house setting, for 31 years,” Wells said. “It was very outdated, but I’d been there so long that my volunteers and I didn’t realize it until we moved to the new location. We were making do with pretty cramped quarters.
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“This is going to be so much better, not just for our volunteers, but the clients as well.”
The Northland Community Assistance Center is one of three Metro Lutheran Ministry assistance centers in the metro area.
It will offer a food pantry, financial assistance for rent and utilities, referrals for clothing and other personal needs, a Learning to Earning Center to help the unemployed hone job skills and navigate job searches, and case management to help at-risk families. The food pantry takes walk-ins; while other services require appointments.
The need for the Ministry’s services is great, said Starla Brennan, operations manager. The non-profit organization is supported by grants and donations.
“Over 9 percent of Clay County residents are below the poverty level,” Brennan said. “Over 7 percent of the Platte County residents are below the poverty level. In Clay 12 percent of children under 18 are below the poverty level; in Platte that’s 10 percent. That’s a lot.
“Kids who have poor health and (whose) families are poor are more at risk for dropping out of school.”
This means they are unable to find employment that can sustain their families, Brennan adds.
“By starting out life below the poverty level, later on they can experience more difficulties.”
Last year the Northland office served 1,700 households totaling 5,000 people, Wells said.
The Northland Community Assistance Center is open 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays. For appointments or information about services in the Northland call 816-454-5295.
“This is the only job I’ve ever worked that I actually want to come to work in the morning,” Wells said.
“My volunteers are my blessings. I could never run this office efficiently without each and every one of them.”
For information about other Metro Lutheran Ministry services in the Kansas City area, call 816-931-0027 or visit mlmkc.org.