Who made an impact in south KC?
By John Sharp
Companies and nonprofit organizations selected by the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce for recognition for their positive impact on south Kansas City during 2020 will receive Impact Awards at the Chamber’s upcoming virtual annual meeting.
The meeting celebrating the Chamber’s 90 years of service to the south Kansas City community will be from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 25.
The winner of the Big Impact Award selected by an online public vote from among the six Community Impact and Economic Development Impact Award winners that Chamber officials said was extremely close will be announced at the meeting.
Receiving special Community Impact Hero Awards at the meeting for the tireless efforts of their employees to care for COVID-19 patients and to help keep our community safe during the pandemic are Saint Luke’s Health System, St. Joseph Medical Center and Swope Health.
The Regnier Family Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City is receiving an Economic Development Impact Award.
Receiving Community Impact Awards are A. L. Huber General Contractor, Community Assistance Council, First Call, Impact Center Schools and Suburban Lawn & Garden.
Wonderscope’s selection was based on the twofold positive economic development impact it has had on the community since opening its new state-of-the-art interactive children’s museum at the Red Bridge Shopping Center which is designed to spark a lifelong love of learning through the power of play.
By providing nearby access to a nationally recognized facility that helps children 10 and younger learn more about science, technology, engineering, arts and math through hands-on exhibits, Wonderscope has helped south Kansas City neighborhoods attract and retain families with young children.
The many families that bring their children to Wonderscope also have helped attract many new retail businesses to the revitalized Red Bridge Shopping Center that just a few years ago was about half vacant.
L. Huber General Contractor is being honored for the frequent free services and donations it provides, along with the time and talents of its employees, to help area charities and other organizations.
For the past several years for instance it has partnered with the Center School District’s Alternative School through the Caring for Kids program to encourage its staff and students, including providing snacks for staff and needed clothing such as coats and socks and recognition for students.
Community Assistance Council is being recognized for the large increase in the number of needy families in south Kansas City it served during 2020 as more and more families struggled financially due to job losses or reductions in work hours due to the pandemic.
It prioritized keeping families in their homes with their lights and heat on by providing emergency rent and utility assistance and keeping food on their tables by providing additional food assistance. Altogether, the number of people served during 2020 rose about 50 percent from 2019, and the value of assistance provided increased by nearly 90 percent.
First Call’s selection was based on the impressive number of clients it was able to serve through its reentry program during 2020 despite its personnel being barred from in-person visits to correctional centers due to the pandemic.
It also was able to expand its reentry program to provide remote service to two additional correctional facilities during the year and to provide service through phone calls and ZOOM meetings to clients in four additional counties in the metropolitan area who were recently released from incarceration.
Impact Center Schools is being honored for its efforts to end student homelessness in the Center School District.
Despite limited face-to-face interaction due to the pandemic, Impact Center continued to work with 30 to 40 families throughout the year by providing case management, education and budgeting support to help them overcome barriers to securing stable housing. The program successfully placed 12 families of Center students facing homelessness into safe and stable housing during the year and also purchased two houses that will be used to provide such housing.
Suburban Lawn & Garden is being recognized for its support of many charitable organizations in the area and environmental stewardship to preserve native grassland.
One such organization is Cornerstones of Care which serves thousands of children and their families and has two facilities in south Kansas City – its Ozanam Campus and its Spofford Campus. For decades, Suburban has provided financial support, in-kind donations and work experiences for the youth served by this organization.