For more than 30 years, a small home on Vivion Road has served the Northland as a critical but often unseen resource for homeless and low-income residents.
Located at St. James Lutheran Church, the small house is the Northland Service Center for Metro Lutheran Ministry. Over three decades, tens of thousands of Clay and Platte County residents have found food, emergency supplies and other assistance that helps return them to independence and self-sufficiency.
One of the center’s “graduates” is Misty Spires, who is now within four credit hours of completing a bachelor’s degree. “MLM got me on the right track,” she recalled. “It saved my life.”
More than 40 Northlanders recently gathered in the Briarcliff West home of Linda and Terry Ward to launch a fund drive to complete remodeling of the center. A total of $27,227 is needed to secure $245,000 in challenge grants from the Hall Family Foundation and the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, while additional funds are being sought to supply and furnish the new facility.
Along with Spires, other speakers included hosts Linda and Terry Ward, MLM Executive Director Jim Glynn, former Tri-County Mental Health Services Director Morty Lebedun and Shawn Franssens, lead pastor of North Cross United Methodist Church.
Rev. Franssens said support from the neighboring Methodist church was not unusual. “We see the results of their (MLM’s) work every day,” he explained. “We look at that center as an extension of our services, too.”
Several dozen Northland churches utilize the center when they need to help a family or individual. Lebedun said MLM has long been seen as a critical resource throughout metropolitan Kansas City. “When I was at Western Missouri Mental Health Center, MLM was the ‘go-to’ place for people in need,” he said. “It still is.”
Plans call for renovation of another building on the church campus that will replace the cramped home, Glynn said. Currently, pallets of food from Harvesters must be received in the basement and then volunteers must carry the boxes up a flight of stairs to be distributed. The new addition will eliminate that type of inefficiency and also include expanded freezer and refrigeration space.
MLM, which operates almost exclusively on contributions, grants and individual donations, serves residents of Greater Kansas City at seven locations in Clay, Jackson and Wyandotte counties. Programs include food, emergency supplies, utilities and rent assistance, along with job skill and readiness training, personal finance programs and more.
Linda Ward said it was important that Northlanders support the effort. “Most of the money that’s been raised so far has come from South of the River,” she noted. “It’s time for the Northland to step up on this.”
For more information, call (816) 931-0027 or visit www.mlmkc.org.