Daily Archives: August 14, 2014

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The ribbon was cut for the new Hope Distribution Center, 1708 Steele Road, on Thursday evening. (Staff photo)
The ribbon was cut for the new Hope Distribution Center, 1708 Steele Road, on Thursday evening. (Staff photo)

One hundred thirty volunteers contributed more than 600 hours to turn the old Dressler’s store at 1708 Steele Road into Catholic Charities’ new Hope Distribution Center.

The ribbon-cutting for the new food distribution center was held today in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan. The warehouse will stock food, streamline distribution operations and serve the needy through nine Catholic Charities food pantries in a 21-county area in northeast Kansas.

“The Hope Distribution Center will certainly change the ways we do things at Catholic Charities a lot,” said Ken Williams, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. It will change the way Catholic Charities feeds the needy in the 21-county area.

“This center will allow us to take large commodity shipments directly from the federal government,” Williams said. “The bottom line, that means more food for those we serve.”

One of the things that has always impressed him about the Kansas City community are the partnerships across denominational, geographic and ethnic lines, said Archbishop Joseph Naumann.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann said he saw reason to hope with the opening of a new food distribution center in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)
Archbishop Joseph Naumann said he saw reason to hope with the opening of a new food distribution center in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)

“Tonight I think we have a reason to smile and see there is a lot of reason for hope, and because of this, many more people are going to be treated with dignity, many more people are going to be fed, and the love of Christ is going to be more and more tangible in our community,” he said.

The need

Valerie Nicholson-Watson, president of Harvesters, said almost 20 percent of Wyandotte County residents, or 30,000 persons, are considered food insecure. (Staff photo)
Valerie Nicholson-Watson, president of Harvesters, said almost 20 percent of Wyandotte County residents, or 30,000 persons, are considered food insecure. (Staff photo)

Valerie Nicholson-Watson, president and CEO of Harvesters Community Food Network, said the rate of food insecurity in Wyandotte County is 19.2 percent. That means about 30,000 people may not always have enough food for a healthy life, she said.

And, 27.1 percent of the children in Wyandotte County are food insecure, she said. That percentage represents more than 12,000 children.

Currently, about 2,500 Wyandotte County children receive backpacks filled with food at 36 schools, she said, in a Harvesters BackSnack program designed to get food to children on the weekends.

“Catholic Charities helps struggling families move from crisis and poverty to stability and hope,” Nicholson-Watson said.

The community effect

Mayor Mark Holland said, “If the faith community in Kansas City, Kan., were not serving the poor, no one else would be.” (Staff photo)
Mayor Mark Holland said, “If the faith community in Kansas City, Kan., were not serving the poor, no one else would be.” (Staff photo)

“It is still the faith community that is on the ground, serving the poor in the United States of America,” Mayor Mark Holland said. “If the faith community in Kansas City, Kan., were not serving the poor, no one else would be.”

The behind-the-scenes management that takes place with this distribution center should not be overlooked, according to the mayor. It makes sure that resources are used to the maximum effect.

The mayor foresees a time when the food distribution programs help members of the community to get back on their feet to the level where they can look for a job. While there is a large task ahead in fighting hunger in the community, he said he believes the faith community is up to the task.

The facility

The new distribution facility, off Highway 69 between I-70 and I-35, will be strategically located to serve the Catholic Charities food pantries throughout the area, said Craig Gaffney, board chair of Catholic Charities Foundation of Northeast Kansas. (Staff photo)
The new distribution facility, off Highway 69 between I-70 and I-35, will be strategically located to serve the Catholic Charities food pantries throughout the area, said Craig Gaffney, board chair of Catholic Charities Foundation of Northeast Kansas. (Staff photo)

The new distribution facility, off Highway 69 between I-70 and I-35, will be strategically located to serve the Catholic Charities food pantries throughout the area, said Craig Gaffney, board chair of Catholic Charities Foundation of Northeast Kansas.

Much of the funding for the project came from St. Michael the Archangel parish and from the Zarda Golf Classic fundraiser, as well as other sources.

A building directly east of the warehouse is a former firehouse that now is being used as a food pantry, Williams said.

The food pantry is different in that clients will not be handed a box of food, but will use a grocery cart, walk down a few aisles, and pick out food they want and need, Williams said. There will be a chart that shows the quantities from each food group they may receive. The food pantry is open to persons of all beliefs.

Williams said two new bus stops will bring people to the food pantry.

Besides going to the local community, food also will be going out to some rural areas of Kansas, according to Williams, with the expansion of a mobile food program for the needy in rural areas.

The volunteers

Unified Government Commissioner Angela Markley toured a new food pantry at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. Markley helped put up the shelves at the food pantry. (Staff photo)
Unified Government Commissioner Angela Markley toured a new food pantry at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. Markley helped put up the shelves at the food pantry. (Staff photo)

Large numbers of volunteers for this project came from Our Lady of Unity Church and also from St. Michael the Archangel Church.

One of the volunteers who helped put shelves in the new food pantry was Unified Government Commissioner Angela Markley.

When volunteers and staff members were still getting the distribution center and food pantry ready, a woman came to the food pantry before it was open and asked if it was open, according to Williams.

She became the first person to use the new food pantry, as Kim Brabits, the pantry’s director, did not turn her away.

Brabits gave the woman a grocery cart and asked her to walk through the aisles and pick the food she wanted, using a card to guide her, Williams said. The woman was somewhat bewildered because she wasn’t handed a bag of groceries. She was surprised she would get to choose her food. The woman shopped with tears coming down her face, he said. When she was finished shopping, she gave everyone a hug.

“That’s what this place represents,” he said. “It represents hope.”

Ken Williams, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, said the new distribution center and improvements will mean more food for the poor served by the agency. (Staff photo)
Ken Williams, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, said the new distribution center and improvements will mean more food for the poor served by the agency. (Staff photo)

A ribbon-cutting for the Hope Distribution Center was held Thursday evening. (Staff photo)
A ribbon-cutting for the Hope Distribution Center was held Thursday evening. (Staff photo)

The audience listened to speeches at a ribbon-cutting and dedication today of the Hope Distribution Center in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)
The audience listened to speeches at a ribbon-cutting and dedication today of the Hope Distribution Center in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)

Those participating in the opening of the Hope Distribution Center today prepared for the ribbon-cutting. (Staff photo)
Those participating in the opening of the Hope Distribution Center today prepared for the ribbon-cutting. (Staff photo)

Produce grown by refugees in the New Roots for Refugees program was on display at the ceremony for Hope Distribution Center. (Staff photo)
Produce grown by refugees in the New Roots for Refugees program was on display at the ceremony for Hope Distribution Center. (Staff photo)

A new food pantry is located to the east of the new Hope Distribution Center in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)
A new food pantry is located to the east of the new Hope Distribution Center in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)

State Rep. Pam Curtis, left, visited with U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder today at a meeting of the Fairfax Industrial Association at the General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by William Crum)
State Rep. Pam Curtis, left, visited with U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder today at a meeting of the Fairfax Industrial Association at the General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by William Crum)

by William Crum
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., was the keynote speaker at the Fairfax industrial Association at the group’s monthly luncheon today.

More than 100 people attended this event, which was held at the General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kan.

“The best thing now is Congress is in recess. Congress needs to work together to get things done. However, we did get a lot done. We did get a lot of bills passed,” Rep. Yoder said.

When asked if he planned to hold a job fair in Wyandotte County, as currently he is holding job fairs in Johnson County, Rep. Yoder said, “I would love to get a job fair in Wyandotte County; however things have not worked out that way. However, we have tried to work out something with Work Force Partnership in the past. This is mainly due to a scheduling conflict.”

When asked what he thinks of a new ruling from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding new compliance regulations, Rep. Yoder said, “We need to delay this ruling. It is not fair for the power companies to meet these compliance regulations right away. We definitely need to delay this ruling, after all it would put too much of a burden on the general consumer. It would cause too much of an increase on the general consumer’s utility bill, particularly for those who are on a fixed income. This is something I’m totally against.”

Toward the end of the meeting a member of the audience asked what is going to happen to the student loan situation.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., addressed the meeting of the Fairfax Industrial Association today in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by William Crum)
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., addressed the meeting of the Fairfax Industrial Association today in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by William Crum)

It is very hard for a person fresh out of college to find a job. The graduates are burdened by the student loans later on in life.

“We need to get back to the basics,” Rep Yoder said. “We need to encourage colleges and universities to help the recent graduates find jobs in their chosen fields and while in college make the loans more affordable so everyone can get a higher education if they choose to do so.”

At the end of the meeting Congressman Yoder walked around and shook everyone’s hand and thanked them for attending the meeting.

The Fairfax Industrial Association met today in the auditorium of the General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by William Crum)
The Fairfax Industrial Association met today in the auditorium of the General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by William Crum)

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The Unified Government of Wyandotte County-Kansas City, Kan., announced today a partnership with Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods, to improve countywide and neighbor-to-neighbor communications.

This integration with Nextdoor will enable the UG’s public relations team, mayor’s office, Liveable Neighborhoods along with other departments, to build stronger, safer communities with the help of residents.

“Today, we are excited to officially partner with Nextdoor,” said Mayor Mark Holland. “Nextdoor will provide residents with more avenues to easily and effectively connect with city departments, and each other, about the things that matter most to their communities.”

Already Nextdoor has proven to be an essential and well-adopted tool for Kansas City area residents, according to the UG. To date, more than 25 neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kan., are using Nextdoor.

With Nextdoor, residents can join private neighborhood websites to share information, including neighborhood public safety issues, community events and activities, local services, and even lost pets. UG departments will be able to post information, such as important news, services, programs, public events, and emergency and safety notifications to Nextdoor websites within the city.

Nextdoor is free for residents and the UG. Each Kansas City neighborhood has its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, accessible only to residents who verify that they live in the neighborhood. Neighborhoods establish and self-manage their own Nextdoor websites and UG departments will not be able to access residents’ websites, contact information, or content. Information shared on Nextdoor is password protected and cannot be accessed by Google or other search engines.

Those interested in joining their neighborhood’s Nextdoor website can visit www.nextdoor.com and enter their address. If residents have questions about their Nextdoor website, visit help.nextdoor.com.

- Information from Unified Government

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