Gifts, prayers, wings, angels and grants – some of the ways non-profit organizations keep up with the day-to-day expenses, keep their doors open and continue to fulfill their missions.
For Pro Deo Youth Center in Lee’s Summit, recently, it seemed none of the above was coming to fruition. The center that serves hundreds of teenagers with everything from homework help to counseling was in jeopardy of not opening its doors this week.
That calamity didn’t happen, but the 8-year-old organization isn’t out of the financial woods just yet.
For those not familiar, Pro Deo Youth Center is an organization that started in the home of Kylie and Andy Ewing, a couple with a heart – a calling in fact – for teenagers in need in Lee’s Summit. And what started out as meals and fellowship at their home turned into a physical location off Chipman Road and expanded programming, help and hope.
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Teenagers in need of counseling, dealing with physical or sexual abuse, issues at home or school, are quite often the forgotten population in Lee’s Summit. Pro Deo set out years ago to change that. And they are changing that.
Word came down a week ago that this meaningful organization was in financial dire straits. Little money in the bank and not able to make payroll with the small staff it employs. The executive director had moved to volunteer status. Crisis mode had set in. And for good reason. Teenagers that, year after year, tell their story of how Pro Deo helped them – saved them, in fact – were about to lose that resource.
Kylie Ewing was called back in to help (she had stepped down as executive director to focus on her family) and a quick campaign netted more than $63,000 in money and future pledges. A long road remains ahead, with Pro Deo’s board and Ewing noting that $150,000 is needed by mid-September to ensure long-term health and to hire an executive director.
Some painful and necessary cuts were made to staffing and Pro Deo now has just three, part-time employees. But through volunteerism and community support, they plan to continue the after-school programming. The only real cut to services was to transportation.
The board will re-evaluate the situation again around Sept. 6. Ewing, serving temporarily in a volunteer-advisor role, said she and the entire organization will burn the midnight oil to make sure the recent giving campaign and community outreach wasn’t done in vain.
“We want to make sure generations upon generations will be able to walk through the door here,” she said.
Pro Deo holds a distinct and special place in our community. A place where our future leaders are valued, their voices heard, their character developed and their dreams encouraged.
If you can help, visit http://www.prodeoyouthcenter.org/donate/.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.