Adventist Community Services (ACS) joined many organizations and volunteers in the Kansas City, Missouri, metro area in the United States from May 17 to June 4, 2021, to help make a difference for their neighbors who are homeless and currently being housed for 90 days in hotels across the city.
Housing homeless individuals in hotels is an innovative housing program created by the city. Many non-profit organizations, volunteers, and community supporters are rallying around the guests of hotels to bring social services to help them with a new start.
Taking advantage of various social programs and services is hard to do when a person is hungry, however.
To ease food anxiety among guests of hotels who did not have consistent access to food, the Kansas-Nebraska Conference, the Central States Conference, and the Iowa-Missouri Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church worked together. They hosted a Feeding Our Friends food drive for specific shelf-stable food items uniquely suitable for people to eat as a quick meal or snack from a hotel room. Guests of the hotels have a microwave in their room or access to one in the hotel lobby. Volunteers requested canned food with pop-top/ring pull lids. The Kansas City regional Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) also gave assistance with organization, volunteers, and promotion to the community.
Karen Whitson, director of ReNewed Hope, a Harvesters agency and an ACS agency serving the Kansas City area, led the Feeding Our Friends food drive, which collected about 890 kilograms (2,000 pounds) of healthy, hotel-friendly food items.
“I know many people want to help the homeless and others who are facing hard times, but they don’t always know how. By organizing the food drive, we created a way for anyone who wants to help to join this team effort,” Whitson said.
“By bringing food to a nearby collection site, people from all over the Kansas City metro area were able to participate in the city’s innovative way to help people who don’t have permanent housing. Providing access to nutritious food helps give homeless individuals in this program the best chance of succeeding in mental health, addiction recovery, and job skills programs to create a new start in life,” she added.
Two Amazing Days
Jody Dickhaut, ACS Missouri state director and pastor of the Adventist churches in Hannibal and Moberly, Missouri, rented a truck and visited collection sites on June 3 and 4. Joining him on June 3 was Alan Harvey, pastor of the Lee’s Summit and Kingsville churches in Missouri. Kent Dunwoody, pastor of the Kansas City Central Church, joined him to help on June 4.
Volunteers from New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church in Overland Park joined volunteers from other churches to sort and organize food boxes to take to hotel guests. More than 100 boxes were arranged and prepared for guests at a nearby hotel who are homeless.
The food drive event ended with a taco salad dinner hosted for about 40 guests of hotels in the city center.
“We are so grateful to the many community-based partners helping to serve those most in need here in Kansas City,” Brian Platt, city manager for Kansas City, Missouri, said. “Groups such as these event organizers have such a tremendous positive impact on our communities and provide support in so many more ways than we could ever manage on our own.”