Clay and Platte: News from around our towns

Alumni weekend at Park University

Park University will celebrate Harvest Fest 2014, its annual alumni celebration and university homecoming Sept. 18-20.

The schedule includes an alumni dinner Thursday, an awards luncheon Friday, and a Park Pirate Family Fun Day, Fiesta Dinner, volleyball match and campus open houses.

The 66th annual awards luncheon is at noon Friday at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. It will honor four Park alumni: Darryl Forté, Kansas City police chief; SuEllen Fried, author and anti-bullying expert; the Rev. David Laird Barclay, volunteer and former alumni council member; and Rodrigo Neri, co-founder and chief product officer at Instin.

Tickets are $25.

The Park Pirate Family Fun Day is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the chapel lawn. The free event will feature bounce houses, balloons and face painting for kids, a magician, a photo booth and concessions

Other Friday events include:

▪ Peace Journalism presentation, 10 a.m. Friday at McCoy Meetin’ House.

▪ Harvest Fiesta, 6 p.m., Friday on the chapel lawn. Tickets are $10 and $12.

▪ Women’s volleyball, 6 p.m., Breckon Sports Center.

▪ Alumni volleyball, 7:30 p.m., Breckon Sports Center.

▪ Party in the Park, 8-11 p.m., English Landing Park.

Saturday events include:

▪ Women's alumni basketball game, 9 a.m., Breckon Sports Center.

▪ Reunion luncheon, noon to 2 p.m., chapel lawn. Food will be sold by Zarda BAR-B-Q.

▪ Men and women’s soccer and volleyball games.

▪ A Night at the Museum, 6-9 p.m., at Museum at Prairefire, 5801 W. 135th St., Overland Park. Tickets are $10 and $8. Family rates are available.

For a complete schedule go to, or contact the Office of Alumni Relations at or 816-584-6207.

Death Café

Death Café, a place for people to talk about death, begins Thursday in the Northland.

The movement began in England in 2011 and is not a grief support group, say organizers.

“It’s talking about death itself. What does that mean to me? It gives you a safe environment to talk about what is often thought about as a taboo subject,” said Steve Smith, a retired chaplain.

Smith and Jim Gordon at Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church are the Northland organizers of the Death Café.

The meetings are free at two locations:

▪ Zona Rosa Death Café, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 18, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, 7600 N.W. Barry Road, Kansas City, North.

▪ Kansas City, North, Death Café, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Sept. 18, Woodneath Library Center, 8900 N.E. Flintlock Road, Kansas City, North.

“We’re trying to find a safe place and a relaxed atmosphere where people can discuss this very difficult subject. It’s an open forum,” said Smith. “We’re very good about respecting people’s ideas and thoughts; but it’s not a place to push or promote any particular idea or theology about this thing called death.”

Other area Death Cafés are located in Kansas City, St. Joseph and Lawrence.

For information contact Smith at or go to

Bunko in Gladstone

Two Bunko sessions are planned Oct. 9 at the Gladstone Community Center. Sessions are 1 and 6 p.m.

Participants must be 18 or older. Register by Oct. 8 by calling 816-423-4200, or by going to the community center, 6901 N. Holmes St.

The cost is $5 for center members and $7 for others. Refreshments and door prizes are planned.

Heart and Sole run/walk

Tri-County Mental Health’s third annual Heart and Sole 5K run/walk is Oct. 11 at Happy Rock Park, Northeast 76th Street and North Antioch Road, Gladstone.

The event benefits the agency’s Children’s Services 2014 Holiday Assistance Program.

Fees are $25 for adults and $15 for youth before Sept. 27, and $30 after and on the day of the walk. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Find information and register in advance at

Signup begins at 8 a.m. and the run/walk starts at 9 a.m.

Grief support for elderly

The Aging and Mental Health Coalition of Kansas City North will discuss grief and loss through the holidays at its 2:30 p.m. meeting Sept. 25.

Chaplain Tim Allison of Gentiva Hospice will lead the program.

Older adults, professionals and family caregivers are welcome.

The meeting will be in the Northland Human Services Building, Room 205, 3100 N.E. 83rd St., Kansas City, North.

For information, contact Tri-County Mental Health Services at 816-468-0400 or visit

Gospel Music Heritage

The Texans will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at Gospel Music Heritage, 102 Lewis St. in Edgerton.

The trio sings southern gospel music and has received numerous gospel music awards including twice being named Entertainers of the Year by the Ozark Music Awards.

A free will offering will be taken. Call 816-532-2485 or go to for information.

Human trafficking forum

A public forum on “Human Trafficking: A Visible Crime” is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 25 at Park Hill High School Auditorium, 7701 N.W. Barry Road, Kansas City, North.

Speakers will be Heith Janke, supervisory special agent with the FBI; September Trible of KC Street Hope; and Janine Montgomery, a human trafficking survivor.

A professional seminar is also planned from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 23 at Park Hill High School Auditorium. Register for the seminar at

The statistics for human trafficking are alarming, said Mary Jo Vernon, director of the Platte County Health Department.

“Human trafficking in the United States is a $32 billion per year industry,” she said. “It brings in more revenue than all professional sports combined in the United States.

“The average age of entry into the commercial sex slavery business in the U.S. is 12 to 13 years old. There are little, young people that their lives are being taken from them.”

She said the method of human trafficking is changing — it’s not just getting abducted off the street.

“Instead of just stealing your child, they are still living at home. They have assignments at night. They are out being manipulated and deceived into this. We think these are horrific things that occur only in other countries but law enforcement says now it is here.”

Janke worked in the Civil Rights Unit in Washington, where he oversaw human trafficking and hate crime programs. While in the Kansas City dvision he was the case agent on a human trafficking investigation involving Asian massage parlors.

Trible is on the founding board of KC Street Hope, an alliance of churches, groups and volunteers working to combat child sex trafficking. She’s also an education and awareness laison for Exodus Cry, an international anti-trafficking organization which produced the documentary “Nefarious.”

Montgomery is a survivor of teenage sex trafficking and domestic abuse. She is now a minister, life coach, and public speaker in Kansas City, Kan. She is writing a book and working to spread the message that human trafficking has to stop.

| Norma King,

Special to The Star