Collaborating to end homelessness

By Donice Mahan, member of the Rotary Club of Kansas City International Airport and executive director of Hillcrest Platte County

Thanks to a helping hand – literally and figuratively – from the Rotary Club of Kansas City International Airport (KCI), Hillcrest Platte County (HPC) housing residents have received individualized case management, bedding, toiletries, school supplies, and other essential items, life skills classes covering topics such as finances, parenting, and career development, a warm, safe and nurturing environment surrounding basic needs allowing participants to focus on improving life and career skills to become self-sufficient adults.

Hillcrest Platte County is a faith-based organization that offers supportive services for individuals and families who are homeless or insecurely housed to achieve sustainable independence. Unlike many organizations whose focus is one-time or emergency care, HPC’s primary objective is to move clients from homelessness to self-sufficiency by addressing the entire life situation of the homeless families they serve. In exchange for rent and utility-free housing, adults and young adults are required by written agreement to find full-time employment, follow program guidelines, and attend weekly volunteer-taught classes in life skills, employment, community living, and budgeting.

Members of the KCI Rotary Club outside the apartment they sponsor at Hillcrest Platte County

In true “service above self” fashion, KCI Rotary Club sponsors an adult housing apartment through volunteer hours. Club members clean and prepare the apartment for new families to move in, award an annual grant, and donate starter furnishings– everything from beds and furniture to an assortment of kitchenware. In addition, monetary donations from funds raised during planned events executed by KCI Rotary Club throughout the year continue to support the HPC participants.

Many families have been served in the KCI Rotary Club apartment through HPC: single-parent families, a nurse who had fallen on hard times, a school bus driver, and a man who had been a Rotarian in the Caribbean! All these people were safely housed while they paid off debt, built savings, and created a budget to sustain them into the future!

Hillcrest Platte County provides corporations, communities, and other philanthropic-minded individuals and groups with an opportunity to help families working to propel themselves out of homelessness. As an HPC Housing Program apartment sponsor, KCI Rotary Club “sponsors” a family/apartment in the Transitional Housing Program. Regular updates on the family’s progress are shared with our members, and they have the opportunity to interact directly with them and facilitate them in their journey to self-sufficiency. Sponsors witness their impact firsthand. One mom living in the apartment was reunited with her children because of the stable address she now had because of the program!

It’s an excellent example of the collaboration the KCI Rotary Club members share and the missions they care about.

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