Wednesday, December 21, 2016


By Emily Lyons, CTSI Case Manager

As one of the family coaches here at Community LINC I get the privilege of walking beside our residents on their journey. Often, their paths are littered with obstacles that take time and perseverance to overcome. Because of such, one of my most important tasks as a family coach is to instill hope in our residents. Hope – something that we all need but often lack in a time of trial. It's hoping for a bigger and brighter tomorrow that is often hard for our residents to see when the hurdles seem overwhelming and unconquerable. For me, Community LINC is a community filled with hope.

Just look around our campus. Walk around the playground after evening program – you will hear sweet giggles from our residents’ children. Visit our wellness groups, and you will see residents sharing snacks while learning new life skills. Listen in on a one on one meeting with a resident – you will hear positive dialog, encouragement, and hope. Hope for our residents, hope for better days, and hope for the future where homelessness is a thing of the past – that’s what Community LINC is all about.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Children’s Matters: Not Throwing Away Your Dreams

By Jamie Lyon KCYA artist and Community LINC Volunteer

My name is Jaime Lyon, and I am a freelance visual art teacher that celebrates the creative process while emphasizing and encouraging self-esteem, self-awareness, and confidence. I’m fortunate enough to be a teaching artist at Kansas City Young Audiences. KCYA has partnered with Community LINC where I currently teach a residency art class. These monthly classes include a variety of projects ranging from self-portraits, masks, journals to handcrafted shields and vision boards.

One of my recent vision board classes was broken up into two sessions. Our first evening included flipping through magazines in hopes of finding images that captured the student's dreams and goals. These pictures ranged from fancy cars to simple cartons of milk. Not every student was finding the perfect photos so I had them tell me specific dreams I could find online and I promised them I would print photos to bring for our second session. I loved learning the dreams of these hopeful and amazing kids aged 9-17. Some dreams included nice homes, sports cars, high school diplomas, college degrees, friendships, happy family members, careers, candy, pets and so much more. As I wrote down their dreams and images to research, we talked about the importance of a dream and how we have to set goals to achieve our dreams. We talked about hard work, resiliency and accountability.

Our second session was very productive. The students gathered all of their images and glued them to a poster board. Some had twenty items to glue some had three. We celebrated their individual creations while continuing our conversations of gratitude, worthiness, and achievements. I found myself drawn to a 17-year-old girl who had worked intently and quietly on her vision board. She laid out her pictures and wrote captions under every item. She had big dreams! She wanted to finish high school and graduate with honors and then go to college and become a very successful business woman. She would then have a beautiful home with a huge pool and guest house. She wanted happy friends in her life and a healthy family. She also wanted to maintain a good relationship with her Mom. She said her Mom was very important to her and she always wanted her in her life.

As we wrapped the class this gentle soul told me to just keep her vision board; she said she didn’t want it! It broke my heart. This sweet child had spent two full hours visualizing, dreaming, setting goals and making plans! She was so close to believing her dreams could come true. But just like that, she was willing to throw it all away… LITERALLY. She didn’t want this vision board, which represented a VERY BRIGHT FUTURE. Her shoulders and head sank as she began to walk away. I stopped her from leaving and pleaded with her to PLEASE reconsider. “Please take this vision board home and display it proudly. See your dreams every day. Share these dreams with your Mom. She’ll want to see your future!”

With slight reluctance, she kept the vision board.” I was relieved as she left with it in her hands!  After the students had been gone and the room was clear I hoped this lesson would help these amazing kids realize their potential. As I was leaving, I saw the young lady who almost threw her art away speaking with her Mom. She was showing her the very masterpiece she had almost let go. Her Mom, who had clearly been at work all day, was wiping the tears from her face. Her mom was so emotional and so very proud of her. I introduced myself and told her about our lesson and how amazing I thought her daughter was. The tears kept flowing as she complimented her daughter for her creation and me for the lesson. They embraced as they continued to review the vision board. Her mom was excited to see a bright future for her daughter. She even joked that she would love to live in her daughter’s guest house. It was a very moving moment. I think the student was glad she didn’t throw her vision board away. Her mom insisted they hang it up in the living room where they could both enjoy visualizing their future! That is Inflated JOY! Wow, I love what I get to do! Who will you encourage today?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thank You Community LINC

Shared by a current Community LINC program participant

My name is Lachelle* and I have two children. For several years I was in a domestic violence situation that had control over my life. I reached out to different agencies to help me get re-established, and I became domestic violence free. Over the years I had moved around a lot and was in debt. We lost our place of residence, and I did not know where to turn, so I went to a local homeless shelter with my two children. I felt ashamed, embarrassed and lost. The homeless shelter sent me to Community LINC, and once my kids and I moved into the Community LINC program, our lives began to change for the better. The Community LINC staff and supporters helped my family learn how to move forward with our lives. My youngest child made new friends that had the same experiences that he did. The new friendships have helped my son feel he has peers who he can talk openly with about his experiences. The program also helped him with coping tools to deal with homelessness and an understanding of how to manage a world of uncertainty. I, too, was given several supports in the way of budgeting classes and healthy lifestyle group topics that were helpful for me. I also participated in individual therapy sessions that helped me find myself, tap into my strengths and identify the barriers that were getting in the way of my progress. While I was learning about my barriers, I also learned how to overcome them, as well as how to support my children as we journeyed to a more stable life. I will forever be grateful for this program. God has blessed this program and blessed us to be able to be a part of it. Since we have been at Community LINC, I have gained a full-time job, found permanent housing for my family, returned to church, and I now connected to helpful resources in the community. I would like to say “thank you” to the Community LINC staff for believing in us and giving us this opportunity to get our lives back on track. 

*Name have been changed to protect the identity of the program participant

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Perfect World

By Holly Gardner, Intake Specialist

In a perfect world, I get an empty manila folder handed to me with only a family’s name and contact info. After checking a few details, I arrange an appointment for screening; upon acceptance into the program, I estimate a ready date; and then I provide a move-in date and time to the new family.  Again, this world is perfect, so the apartment is clean, decorated by volunteers and ready just when the family needs it.

On their move-in day, the family is given a walk-through of their apartment and a hug or two. The family and I both get emotional when I hand them the key. They accept it, and we both know this relationship - this program - will impact their life journey in a very positive way. But again, this is a perfect world. 

Moving to the real world: We recently screened and accepted a family into our program. The manila folder was on the corner of my desk next to my “to do” list.  In just a few short days the family went from strangers to the newest family preparing to move in.  The young mom was nine months pregnant and had three other youngsters.  Her situation at the shelter and other community resources were waning, and her stress levels were increasing. She left me a soft, sad message on my answering machine hoping to move up her move-in date.

I let our team know we needed to do all we could to speed up the process. Everyone pitched in, from maintenance to cleaning to decorating. As they do so often, things just fell into place.  Our maintenance team was in the middle of some pretty extensive projects, and I did get a grimace or two, but they assured me that yes they could do it for this mom and her family.  Everything was touched, improved upon, updated and personalized. I was able to call her back and let her know that what we thought would take us three days we were able to accomplish in a day.  Her apartment was ready for her and her children.  In a perfect world maybe this family would not ever need us, or maybe her barriers could be overcome without the rigors of a program but we all know perfection is hard to find.  In this instance, for this family, we got very, very close.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

China Is My Home

By Cais Monroe, Facilitator

“I want you to draw whatever you think of when you hear the word home."  Mr. Joshua, Community LINC's Children's Program Manager, was explaining an activity that I would never forget, "it can be your room, your state, your old home, your family... whatever that is I want you to draw it." Then he further explained his personal idea of home, “I moved around a lot when I was younger, so where ever my family is, it became home for me.”  Some children drew houses, others drew their bedrooms, and participating staff drew pictures of their homes and maps of the states where they lived. One person even drew an outline of California and the beaches there back in her home city, however, there were two particular children whose pictures sank deep into my mind.

Out of respect for their privacy, I won't mention their names I'll refer to them as K and J. Both boys full of so much character and personality; characters so very different but a walk of life with similar obstacles. I asked K, what he was drawing, so neatly and creatively, coloring away so care-free, no shame in his perspective of "home.” "It’s the hotel,” he said still coloring without ever looking up. Bringing back my oppressed memory of when my family lived briefly in an American Inn Motel I thought it would be the appropriate moment to share our stories. K told me about how much fun it was residing in the hotel, riding in the hotel elevators every morning and having his family so close to each other in one room. I shared with him that "we had two queen size beds in our room and my brother and I would jump from bed to bed trying not to touch the ground of imaginary lava.” K finally looked up, and we laughed.

J, who is six years old and incredibly smart and does a hilarious hillbilly impersonation (sorry, that's what he calls it), well he drew a picture of China. Completely puzzled and dying to know his thoughts, I asked him more about his drawing. He told me, "I'm going to live in China one day and it's going to be my home."  He named some historical figures from China and asked me if I knew any. Totally embarrassed that I didn't know any of these great legends but thoroughly impressed at the same time, I was blown away by his knowledge of a land that seems so far away from us. J was a young man focused on his future, not held back or confined to a definition of home, with an understanding that he could go where ever he wanted in life, even China.

These children understand that their circumstances do not define them and if they are ever doubtful, we are here to remind them. They have an unusual perspective on life that we as adults could adopt from time to time. But this is why Community LINC, is so important. The reality is there isn't always (if ever) an opportunity to have these type of conversations at school. At Community LINC these activities present so many opportunities to for us to share our stories with one another, be able to relate to each other and encourage our children that these situations aren't ever –lasting. I must say that they help us as well with their resilient ways of thinking which give us the chance to build on that foundation.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Positive Impact of Social Connections for Parents

Submitted by Griselda Williams, Mental Wellness Manager

Recently, I wrote a blog about our relationship with the Children’s Trust Fund (CTF), Missouri’s Foundation for Child Abuse Prevention. CTF awarded Community LINC a grant to fund mental wellness services for children and youth from ages 6-17. Mental wellness services are provided by our Child Therapist and can include individual therapy and socialization and coping skills group.  While children and youth receive services, we also provide support services to parents based on the CTF model. Several of our staff participated in a conference and on-line training supported by the CTF with a focus on “Building Protective Factors to Strengthen Families." Topics shared throughout the training included the following protective factors:

  • Concrete support for parents in times of need
  • Parent Resilience
  • Social Connections
  • Social and Emotional Competence
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

Recently, in our parents’ Healthy Lifestyles group, I observed the impact that Social Connections can have for our parents. Clare Hollander, of the Kansas City Public Library, spoke to our parents on Children’s Literacy and provided books for the children.  Clare discussed the importance of exposing children of all ages to books. I observed the reactions and listened to the input of several of the program participants.  Initially, Anita seemed a bit hesitant to take books for her children. She also shared that, due to her work schedule, she had little time to read to her young children. As another parent, Dena shared how she exposes her 2-year-old son to words and books; Anita asked how she could start reading to her children. The more Dena shared the benefits of exposing her son to books, the more Anita began to see how she could include reading to her children in their bedtime routine. As Dena shared that her son had a library card and how he enjoys going to the library, Anita began to discuss taking her children to the public library. Dena also shared that more parents need to be involved in their children’s schools and Anita then asked how to do this. Dena shared how she stays connected to her son’s school, and by the end of the group meeting, Anita asked Clare Hollander for books for her children. It was evident to me that Social Connections with other parents provided a great support and influence for Anita, more than my words as the group facilitator and our guest librarian could provide.  

Friday, September 2, 2016

Remember To Take Nothing for Granted!

By Alicia Horton, Mobile Assessment Case Manager

Each and every day most of us experience stability. We have a place to stay, food to eat and a car to drive. We have these luxuries as part of our normal daily routine.

Now picture your life without just one of the three, let alone all three at once.

The thought is SCARY to say the least; right?

Well, these are just a few of the daily struggles of the families we meet at Community LINC. It’s extremely sad and disheartening.

One of the things I enjoy most about being here at Community LINC is, right from the very start we try and meet family’s right where they are!

For example, if they’re struggling to get from place to place, we can provide on the spot intake screenings. This limits the number of times a family has to travel for services while in crisis. We can connect families with local food pantries, health care providers and other community-related services to help a family in need.  It’s truly a beautiful thing!

Seeing the daily struggles of these families in crisis makes me truly grateful for the people (family, friends and co-workers) in my life.

Community LINC is truly the most rewarding and humbling job I’ve had.  I make myself remember to take nothing for granted.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Submitted by Emily Lyons, CTI Case Manager

Transition is hard, but Community LINC is here to make it a little bit easier.

New home, new school, new neighborhood, new sounds, new routine. Transition is hard. Transition is even harder when it involves uncertainty. Families who are experiencing homelessness often struggle with knowing what comes next, and once they do find a more stable place to stay, whether that be with a friend or relative, at a shelter or a community program, most of the uncertainty remains with them: What happens when I have to leave here? When will my time be up? What will we do then? Its questions like these that make already difficult situations turn into impossible tasks. Here at Community LINC, we walk side by side with our residents to make these transitions less daunting. From the day residents enter the program, they are supported by staff to look for employment, enroll children in school, obtain permanent housing, and connect with community resources in order to make their transition to the next chapter of their lives easier. Even after our families leave the furnished apartments on Community LINC’s campus, they are still supported for nine months during our Aftercare program. Preparing our residents to embrace their new chapter is sometimes challenging, but more times than not, it is simply rewarding – especially when through good preparation, the uncertainty diminishes and the excitement regarding their next steps escalates.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Strong Parents Help Build Stable Children

Submitted by Griselda Williams, Manager Mental Wellness Services

Recently, several coworkers and I met to discuss our annual report for the Children’s Trust Fund (CTF), Missouri’s Foundation for Child Abuse Prevention. The grant funds mental wellness services at Community LINC, for children and youth ages 6-17. Mental wellness services are provided by a Child Therapist to include individual therapy, socialization, coping group therapy and often sibling group therapy.  As we were discussing interventions for children and youth our conversation naturally moved toward mental wellness supports provided to the parents. Some of the topics shared with Community LINC parents to support stable families and safety of children include:
  • Protective Factors for Strengthening Families (taken from training offered via the Children’s Trust Fund).
    •  Concrete support for parents in times of need
    • Parent Resilience
    • Social Connections
    • Social and Emotional Competence
    • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  • Parents as Role Model (Open discussion from the, Children See, Children Do video).
  • Why Does My Child Act Like That? (We discussed the four archetypes for child misbehavior).
  • How Well Do You Know Your Child? (Parents were given a handout with questions about their child’s favorite color, video game, best friend, etc. Parents met with their children to discuss their responses.
  • Child Development for children birth to 5 with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and Social, emotional and cognitive development of children ages 6-17.
  • How to Help Your Child after a Traumatic Event (such as homelessness).

When parents have information and feel supported there is less risk for child abuse and neglect. These “protective factors” help families succeed and increase their resiliency during stressful times; like when they are experiencing homelessness. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Win, Win

By Tylynn Washington, Immediate Housing Case Manager

Community LINC’s Landlord Locator builds a strong inventory of available housing options for Community LINC’s families.  Major responsibilities include housing location and fostering working relationships with landlords.  Working closely with the Housing Specialist, we develop and implement strategies for retaining these housing options and communicate landlord’s issues, concerns, and conflicts to staff and families, to ensure a family can secure and retain permanent housing.

What is Rapid Re-housing?
  • Rapid re-housing serves individuals and families experiencing homelessness who need time-limited assistance in order to get and keep housing.
  •  It reduces the length of time people experience homelessness, minimizes the impact of homelessness on their lives, and facilitates their access to resources in the community.
  • Rapid re-housing programs often use a relatively light-touch approach to financial assistance and supportive services, seeking to provide just enough assistance to help families get back into housing, while being available to offer additional support or connections to other resources and programs if more help is needed.

  Even so, data indicate that 90 percent of households served by Rapid Re-housing are successfully housed and do not return to shelter. This approach allows communities to assist more households with the same resources.

Working With Landlords in Rapid Re-housing

How do landlords think?
Rental housing is a dollars and cents business.  Landlords and management companies are in the business of reducing risk and maximizing return on investments.  Rapid Re-housing providers need to adopt a business-oriented or market-driven approach to recruiting and engaging property owners and management companies.  In many ways, I am “selling a product” in the open market.  I have to convince property owners that our “product” will meet their needs and address their concerns.

Marketing the program
Marketing is one of the best tools to use in developing a pool of landlords and management companies who are willing to rent directly to our families. Another good tool is giving the landlord a list of commitments that will inspire them to partner with Community LINC as we work to make our mission a reality. Like…..
  • Rental Assistance
  • Rental Conflict Advocacy
  • Quarterly Housing Partner Luncheons (people love to eat J)

 Keeping landlords happy
At the end of the day, one of my main concerns as a Landlord Locator is to maintain good relationships. Keeping the lines of communication open by following up with property owners and agents, keeping our commitments, putting what I was taught as a Realtor to use and operating with integrity and honesty is what I try to do for each landlord.

These partnerships pay off for the landlords and for our families. Landlords have the confidence in their leases with Community LINC families, and our families have housing options they otherwise would not. If you or someone you know might be interested in becoming a landlord partner with Community LINC, contact me at or 816.389.8252.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Children's Matters: Love Louder

By Children Program Manager, Joshua Chittum

A mother and daughter participating in our Interim Housing Program recently attended the Love Louder conference at UMKC. Their attendance to the conference was made possible by a donor who covered the registration fee. Also, thank you to Love Louder organizers who gave us a discount. The following is a Q&A with Mom about their weekend experience.  

1. What is Love Louder? 
It is a two day conference for girls between 5-14 that encourages participants to love themselves and increase their self-worth.  

2. What was your favorite part? 
I enjoyed how the conference facilitators were so open and friendly to the parents and children. They gave so many helpful tips on loving ourselves. 

3. What did your daughter like about the conference? 
My daughter loved dancing and singing with the others girls and instructors. She learned to give love to herself every day. Since we attended, she has started jumping up and down in front of the mirror each day saying, "I love me!"  

4. Anything else you would like to mention? 
The mothers, aunts, and grandmothers got to go to groups for adults during the conference. It was refreshing to share information about our kids and their self-worth. My daughter and I are going to go again when it comes back next May.  
If you are aware of conferences, camps, and enrichment activities that will benefit children at Community LINC, please reach out to me!  - Joshua Chittum *

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Learning How to Handle Conflict Pays Off

By Constance Taylor, Program Manager and Employment Job Coach

Community LINC’s goal is always to see our families back on their feet, secure in housing and gainfully employed. I was so impressed each time I saw Kim with her four children. She would have her twins in a stroller and the two older children walking alongside them. I wanted to jump in and help but for fear of complicating things I would just stand back and watch her make it happen. I finally realized she had her own system that worked.

Kim seemed so young to have so many children to care for alone. Because of her past evictions, her only option is a landlord willing to give her a chance to prove she will pay rent and maintain his property in good condition. She has been employed for two months now and makes a livable wage. She recently secured another part-time job working weekends. 

She has eliminated several warrants and reported to court several times concerning a domestic disturbance that existed before she came to Community LINC. She has not only expressed her desire to react to conflict differently but we have witnessed her ability to work through some challenging situations. She vows to work, manage her home and take care of her children. The progress she has already made while managing four children on her own shows her dedication. She is looking for this second chance for housing now and is ready to move forward. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Art as a Tool for Healing

By Griselda Williams, Manager Mental Wellness Services

For many years, art has been used as a tool to promote healing with various groups of people. Art is used with persons with Alzheimer’s’ disease and other health issues. There are art programs in the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. Art has been used in therapy with persons challenged with mental health diagnoses and persons with disabilities. Art is used in other regions of the United States, as well as the world by organizations positively impacting persons traumatized by earthquakes, war, floods, tornadoes and other traumatic events.

According to Gretchen Miller, Registered Board Certified Art Therapist, “Art expression is a powerful way to safely contain and create separation from the terrifying experience of trauma without the necessity of or reliance on verbal language to share ones story”. This creative tool “can become a visual voice that can help retrieve content from lower-functioning parts of the brain where traumatic experiences live without words and can transform into drawings on paper, molded into clay, painted onto a canvas and more”. Art experiences “safely gives voice to and makes a survivor’s experience of emotions, thoughts and memories visible when words are insufficient.”

I recently attended the Housing First Partners conference in Los Angeles, California, where persons who had experienced homelessness used art as a tool for healing. Homelessness is considered a traumatic event so it would stand to reason that art would benefit persons with this experience. Men and women that participated in the Skid Row Homeless Support Program in downtown Los Angeles made art items to sell and earn income at the Housing First Partners conference. People who lived homeless experiences were at the conference, share the use of art, poetry and music to tell their stories and some had published their work. These individuals shared their publications and work and how participating in art therapy helped them heal and increase their self-esteem and self-worth. Others shared how being able to make art helped them feel there was something they did well, something they had control over and something that was theirs alone that no one could take from them. One man shared that using poetry to express how he felt inside was a positive way of getting all of the negative and fearful feelings out in a harmless way versus in an angry or self-destructive way.

As part of our program group meetings at Community LINC, I often offer artful experiences with our program participants. Recently, I offered old keys, a painted canvas and other items for a collage. The collage title for each participant was to be called, “The Key To My……”   Each participant was asked to fill the blank canvas with pictures, words and symbols reflecting on the title. When the women’s group members finished their collages they shared hopes, dreams, goals, regrets and lessons learned through their collages. They were able to imagine a new life and depict this in their collages which in turn helped them to identify their goals and therefore steps needed to reach the goals.

We often use ‘art as a tool for healing’ experiences in our program groups often. Each time, I hear our residents say how helpful the experience was for increasing their awareness and insight, as well as how it helped them connect to their hopes and dreams. Pictures of some of the finished collages were posted on our Facebook because the group members felt proud of what they produced and they wanted to share them with others. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fresh Start

By Holly Gardner, Intake Specialist

I’m always amazed at the many community supports intertwined with the day-to-day business we do at Community LINC and how we strive to fill the voids the best we can while we serve our families.  This winter I was privileged to meet Michelle at Giving the Basics and coordinate services so we could have onsite, personal care items for our families.  This includes shampoo, body wash, feminine necessities and many other products. While speaking with Michelle it was hard to imagine living without these items. Her enthusiasm was contagious as she spoke of the void families often experienced while homeless and how her agency was determined to fill that void by partnering with social service agencies like ours.  Yes, families have access to food pantries and there are agencies that provide clothing but it could be hit and miss when it comes to providing basic self-care needs. This could be stressful and embarrassing for people to even ask for such items.

There is a lot of work to do in a rapid re-housing program. Employment is a priority and many of the day-to-day tasks our families have on their plate require meeting new people and trying to make the best impressions they can.  We call it building relationships, building bridges back to self-sufficiency – a very important aspect of our program.  Sometimes our families struggle with self- care as it has been off their priority list as they are busy trying to survive the day-to-day.  At Community LINC we encourage our families to put some focus back on self-care and encourage them to look and feel their best on their journey. What a beautiful way to offer dignity and respect in a very tangible way by connecting a person with “the basics” again.

On the Giving the Basics brochure a striking picture of a man’s profile sitting in a chair wearing soiled clothing, you can obviously tell he makes a living with his hands. The caption says, “I can’t get a job because I’m dirty.”  Beneath that reads, “Did you know food stamps don’t cover the basics, like shampoo or laundry soap? Please donate generously-everyone deserves a fresh start.”

To better assist our families we have an area set up in our donation basement, designated just for this so parents can look over the items and pick what they would like to have. The positivity I see and feel is sometimes overwhelming and I have to wonder if a person feels better stepping out their door to take care of business with a little less worry they may just land that next job, build new relationships, secure housing for their children.  We thank our partnering agencies for helping us provide the basics, including these very simple yet profoundly life affirming dignity items. And yes it takes all these small things to make a fresh start. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

For the Sake of the Twins

By Employment Job Coach Constance Taylor

 Several months had gone by and I could see the disappointment in Briana’s face each time she entered the computer lab. She had gone to interview after interview expecting a door to open and yet, still no job. I didn’t want her to lose hope and so I decided to send her to a training class with an internship attached. She was excited at the opportunity. Briana attended the orientation and learned that a company she had applied to work for was having a hiring fair in the same building in the next few days. She did some networking, scheduled an interview at the same job fair, and was hired a few days later. Although it was not the opportunity she was expecting to follow, Briana was thrilled about the quick turnaround.  

Briana is not unaccustomed to unexpected change.  She told me what it was like to have two children born at the same time. One boy and one girl. This meant she had to budget to buy two of everything. On top of that, one child was quite ill growing up, so Briana had seen some difficult days. Her mom passed away two short years ago from cancer and today her children’s dad is suffering from the same disease. She has had to fight to move forward for the sake of the twins on many occasions. 

It is always impressive when parents strive for the sake of their children. Kids really do make the world go around. Now that the twins are older, Briana looks for the best. She has started her new position and is searching for housing. Her life has become different for the sake of the twins.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Healthy Lifestyle Groups Matter

By Griselda Williams, Mental Wellness Services Manager

Recently, I was asked by a coworker if I felt the Healthy Lifestyles groups should continue. The Tuesday/Thursday evening groups have been held for many years and we wondered if the current process was useful.   I replied, “Yes” we need to continue the groups. When asked what the contribution was, I remarked that education, support, connection to community resources and relationship building are the greatest benefits.

The group meetings are a good time to share information with our Interim Housing residents. We have invited numerous people from different agencies to visit our group meetings. For example:
  •  Harvester’s staff share nutrition information and sign residents up for food stamps/the SNAP program.
  • University of Missouri-Extension staff also provide nutrition classes for adults and teens. The instructor is a single mother and when she speaks to our single mother residents, they listen.
  • Habitat for Humanity staff share how our residents can become homeowners someday.
  • Staff from the Kansas City Care Clinic educate residents on the importance of finding a medical home at their clinic, even if they don’t have health insurance.
  • The KC Care Staff also educate residents on the new Affordable Care Act insurance program and the consequence of not having insurance when they file 2017 taxes. The staff also help residents enroll in the ACA since most adults have no insurance when they enter our program.
  • One guest educated our women’s group participants on breast cancer awareness and testing. This was timely as one of our residents tested positive for stage 3 breast cancer and was able to engage with this support as she began treatment.
  • Peers from the RESPECT Institute through the Missouri Department of Mental Health with experience in mental health issues, substance abuse, homelessness and other challenges visit on a regular basis. They share personal stories about how engaging in needed mental health services and supports helped turn their lives around. They also encourage residents to engage in needed supports for their challenges. Given that the peers have gone through the same things our residents have or are currently going through, our residents listen to their advice.
We have numerous other guests from various agencies and organizations, all of whom volunteer their time to speak to our adult groups. These relationships can continue for our residents after they move on to permanent housing within the community.
While we have many community guests, we also try to address issues in-house, with a focus on topics that meet our resident’s needs. We discuss numerous topics, among them:
 Setting boundaries and developing and maintaining healthy relationships
  • Solution-finding and goal setting tools
  • Coping tools for stress management and managing depression and anxiety
  • Parent As Role Models, Helping One’s Child After a Trauma (homelessness is considered a traumatic event for children) and other parenting topics

 Sometimes we watch movies for inspiration. Recently, when we watched a movie, the women decided to bring items for a pot luck. Some baked cupcakes, some brought punch and others made dip for chips and soup. The ladies watched the movie and discussed it while they celebrated positive relationships with one another and the “village” like environment we often see with residents at Community LINC.

When the residents come together for program group meetings they often share resources, give support and build positive relationships with other residents. Just this week, one woman shared that her place of employment is hiring for part-time weekend staff. Another resident shared a childcare resource with a woman who just moved into our program. There are some adult residents who remain friends once they move to permanent housing. One woman shared, “we are all in this together” and she has given a great deal of support to the other single mothers.

I could go on and on about the benefits of keeping the Healthy Lifestyles groups because I see so many positives that come out of these meetings. So, if anyone were to ask me if we need to continue the meetings, all I have to say is, “You bet, because Healthy Lifestyle Groups matter!” 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

There’s No Place Like Home

By Laura Haskell, Community LINC Volunteer
Community LINC provides that stability that so many homeless families crave. 

“Close your eyes, tap your heels together three times and think to yourself, there’s no place like home!”

How simple life would be if we could all click our heels together and magically appear in our homes. Unfortunately, not everyone in Kansas City has a place of their own to call home.

On February 17th, you have the chance to give families in Kansas City the building blocks to make a place of their own home. We are launching the Homes Matter campaign for the first time at Community LINC. During this single day you can help us reach our goal of raising $25,000. A gift can provide bedding, kitchen and bath fundamentals for the families we serve. Together we can make a difference in the community and start hundreds of homeless on their journey to self-sufficiency.

Spread the word about our Homes Matter campaign by sharing our story and inviting your friends and family to participate!  Help give KC families the basics: #HomesMatter

Friday, February 12, 2016

Community Matters

By Tiffani Kintchen, Special Events Manager

“I deeply believe in Community LINCs mission to break the cycle of homelessness for children and families by helping them build lives of hope, stability, and greater self-sufficiency. We can all make a difference by working together, and I am blessed to be part of a community of churches, businesses, and individuals who pull together to help families in crisis.”

As the Special Events Manager, my job isn’t working hands on with the children and families who come to Community LINC.  My role is generate the funds needed to sustain our programs and services.  It’s through the generosity of our donors that has brought light back into the lives of so many families.  While the staff and volunteers at Community LINC dedicate their energies to creating opportunities for each family to achieve stability and self-sufficiency, it is the individuals, churches, businesses and organization in our community who have truly cared to break the cycle of homelessness amongst us.  Without the support of our community, none of the life-changing transformations would have been possible.  On their behalf, I thank you!  You are literally changing the lives of families. 

Your support made it possible.  As I begin to look forward to our annual Rent Party fundraising event, I am once again excited about the anticipated always-generous response by our community to support the families at Community LINC.  While it is true we are blessed beyond measure by how the community partners with us, I find the most exciting part to be the gathering of friends, new and old.  Nothing makes us happier than to introduce new friends to the joy of helping homeless families find hope again and to reacquaint ourselves with those already standing alongside us.   

The best part about my job at Community is knowing that the funds we raise will provide children and their family a safe and stable place to call home.  We will provide them a firm foundation from which to launch as they work to find permanent housing, increase their job skills and employment, and improve their financial stability.  Lives are being changed here at Community LINC, and we thank you – OUR COMMUNITY for your part in that. The power of our community to generate change is formidable.  Together we have brought hope and stability into the lives of families.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Every Hour Counts!

By Daniel Barber, Volunteer Manager

The community that supports Community LINC is a very generous one!  2015 was filled with fantastic acts of kindness and dedication from our volunteers.  These volunteers are essential to Community LINC’s ability to function and impact poverty.  Often times, individual volunteers can overlook or forget about the importance of their time.  But we know every hour counts!

2015 in Review
In 2015, Community LINC volunteers donated 5,427 recorded hours.  That time is estimated to be a $135,435 value to Community LINC.  Allow me a moment to recognize just a few highlights of the overall contributions of our volunteers.

Apartment Preparations:  Our volunteers spent 332 hours cleaning, re-organizing and decorating apartments to make them feel like a place our residents can call “home”.   On average, each apartments takes about 10 – 12 volunteer hours to get ready for the next family.  Without volunteers, that work would have to be done by employees. Which would mean: 1) Less time for employees typical duties (maintenance, or resident interactions), or 2) Community LINC would have to hire more employees to handle the duties, and 3) Probably most importantly, apartment prep would take longer, and families would have to wait longer to move in.

Budgeting: Last year, our budgeters clocked 233 budgeting hours.  That is time spent, individually, with residents and aftercare participants, helping them achieve their financial goals and attain stability.   Budget counseling is a big reason 93% of our program graduates from 2008-2013 have not returned to homelessness in the last seven years.

Maintenance: Our buildings are over 100 years old.  We have all the maintenance duties any other apartment complex would have, on top of the impressive age of our buildings.  As you can imagine, every single one of the 1,387 hours donated to maintenance was greatly needed.  Without these dedicated volunteers, our facility would not look nearly as nice and would be very far behind on routine maintenance.

Youth / Children: Throughout 2015, our volunteers spent 696 hours with the children of Community LINC.  The impact of homelessness on a child can be devastating; emotionally and developmentally.  The time our volunteers spent caring for and supporting these children has greatly impacted and improved each student’s ability to deal with their stressful circumstances.

Special Events: The Rent Party is a fantastic highlight of the year for Community LINC.  It is also responsible for one-third of our operating budget! To pull off such a fantastic evening of entertainment, it takes lots of time and preparation - 258 volunteer hours to be exact!  Volunteers are crucial for acquiring donations for the auction, as well as to make sure the event runs smoothly.  Without all of these hours, the Rent Party could not be as successful as it is.

These are just a few highlights of the overall impact our volunteers make at Community LINC.  Each hour donated means we can do a better job at ending homelessness, impacting poverty and removing barriers to self-sufficiency for the families we serve.  The volunteers at Community LINC clearly understand just how much community matters. We appreciate every one of our volunteers and every hour donated!

Friday, January 22, 2016

No Turning Back

By Employment Service Manager, Constance Taylor

Often times our participants lack vision and a genuine desire to reach for their dreams to achieve and excel. They cannot always believe they deserve a better paying job with benefits working within a highly committed and professional team. One of my chief goals is to exercise coaching tools that propel our participants beyond what they can imagine.

After several years of verbal abuse with her current employer, Tonya was suspended for two weeks when she finally expressed her concerns of how she was being treated to higher management. While rehearsing the details of the event she realized this may be a good time to weigh her options. After five years of committed service with the existing company, the thought of pursuing another career was a little frightening.

She decided to put in some applications and see what happens. Her first application was for an office position as a receptionist. To her surprise she was contacted for an interview within three days. She was offered the position earning more money with an extensive benefit package. Community LINC’s employment services program was able to provide her with donated clothing perfect for the new job.

She is on her way to a brand new job and life. Her new employer plans to train her on other job functions which will also strengthen her ability to learn new skills and provide the tools needs to expand her new career path. What an awesome turn around at a time that seemed like things were about to crumble. No turning back now only soaring ahead at a brand new future.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Power To Give

By Children's Program Director, Josh Chittum

Christmas time at Community LINC means offices and meeting spaces are filled with shopping bags and wrapped presents and all available hands digging in to help distribute items to families. This is expected at a social service agency during the holidays. What I’m proud of most this season, however, is something we did for Christmas that might not be as expected to outside observers.

For an entire month, children and youth participated in our first ever Read-to-Give program. During this time, they raised $1 for each book or story they wrote through outside sponsorships. At the end of the program, 130 literacy activities were completed. With an extra donation on top of sponsorship, the children and youth raised $200 total.

The great part is that they were raising money for someone else - an international organization called Oxfam America that works to promote self-sufficiency in developing nations just as we work to promote self-sufficiency for families experiencing homelessness in Kansas City. Through Oxfam’s Unwrapped store, children used the funds they raised to purchase a goat and bundles of school books that will benefit children in a developing country as they too strive towards self-sufficiency.

There is power in being able to act upon the world in this manner. There is power in realizing that one does not have to identify “only” as a recipient of charity. There is power in us, those not experiencing homelessness, to view children at Community LINC as capable of giving something to the world just like any other child.

This power increases children’s resiliency, which is the primary focus of Children’s Program. It also helps children internalize the fact that they can act in the world. That realization is linked to self-sufficiency, which is central to our organizational mission. That is why this program was started and why we hope we are able to continue it in the years ahead.