Big-hearted, fierce and fearless, Lynda Callon was everything a community organizer needs to be. The West Side and all of Kansas City are better for her work.
A late-diagnosed cancer, moving with shocking swiftness, took the life Sunday of a 64-year-old woman who many considered an indestructible force.
Thanks in large part to Callon, the West Side Community Action Network stands as Kansas City’s most successful example of community policing. She worked hand in hand with Kansas City police officers, two of whom keep an office at the center at 2130 Jefferson St.
By offering the center as a resource to newly arriving and transient migrant workers, Callon and the officers, Matt Tomasic and Octavio Villalobos, greatly reduced loitering, drunkenness and crime in the neighborhood.
Callon was tough about enforcing rules with the workers, and even tougher with people who falsely accused her of creating a haven for illegal immigrants. The migrants were already in the neighborhood; Callon simply gave them a place to get a meal, a hot shower and some good advice.
She was always looking for a way to help West Side families. Recently she started a book drive, so all parents who walked into the center could leave with books for their children.
It will now fall to others to continue her work.
The city and Police Department should honor Callon’s legacy by committing the resources to keep community organizing and policing alive on the West Side.