Recently, Clemons Real Estate assisted Artists Helping the Homeless in acquiring their new facility located at 3006 Tracy, Kansas City, MO. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate founder Kar Woo on the expansion of their services, and tell you more about this wonderful organization:
This month we are highlighting a local Midtown Non-Profit bringing awareness and resources to the homeless. They are located at 3625 Warwick Blvd, Kansas City, Missouri 64111. 1. How did your organization get started? Over the years, I would see homeless people in Mill Creek Park while walking my dog, Kato, and as I got to know them I discovered I could help in simple ways such as a phone call or a ride. I started Artist Helping the Homeless (AHH) to expand this effort. In 2009, I was invited to a local homeless and emergnecy services meeting and learned about the high cost of emergency services for the homeless population. From there, I created BE THE CHANGE (BtC) program, which was a tranpsortation based hospital diversion program utilizing a van and drivers from the Sant Luke’s foundation. 2.How are you collaborating with other organizations in KC? By design, we fill gaps rather than duplicate existing services in order to improve outcomes and efficiency for both the homeless and the agencies that serve them. The program collaborates with other agencies on both individual and systemic challenges in order to improve the collective impact of the local safety net in getting people off the street. This approach fosters coordination, communication, consistency, and client engagement. Today, the BtC Program works with over two dozen hospitals, most local homeless and recovery programs (including domestic violence shelters), courts and law enforcement agencies, and many others. A conservative estimate of what the program saved community emergency services is now over $15 million, or over $5 for each $1 it costs. 3. How can people get involved in your organization and what do you need most from them? Since the program works with clients where they are, literally and figuratively, finding volunteer opportunities can be challenging. One of the best ways is to help us get the word out about our program and funding needs. Another opportunity is to serve (or recommend someone to serve) on our Boards. Other ways to help include collecting toiletries and household supplies and clothing (we have a greater need for men’s) or presenting a coping skill class at Bodhi House or Finnegan Place. 4. What inspires you most? The people we work with, both the dedicated service providers throughout Kansas City and our clients. It motivates me to hear clients we have worked with in the past tell me they are doing well now and I helped them at a time when they really needed it. My co-workers, ost of whom were clients at one time, are daily reminders of how we can make a difference. I can’t explain what it means to see them grow and be an example for others. 5. What is the biggest obstacle/problem in reaching your goals? Securing funding is our biggest challenge, as we try not to compete with other homeless/recovery agencies for the limited funds traditionally devoted to these causes. Our funding model draws equally on corporations that share our mission of reducing the need and cost of care for the homeless in Kansas City, coalitions with other agencies, and individuals. Funders are beginning to realize that no single organization is responsible for problems like homelessness, and no single organization can solve it. AHH continues to try new solutions, but it can be challenging to convince people to invest in a relatively new agency with new approaches to problems others are not addressing. A special thanks to Kar Woo, for the interview!