This is a follow up to our Birthday Bag event I wrote about in my recent blog post. KindCrafters met on Tuesday this past week to assemble Birthday Bags filled with bubbles, streamers, glowsticks, a giant lollipop, and a birthday crown, decorated by KindCraft kids at the event. The day after the event, I was ready to set out in the Uhaul van we rented, but Kansas weather decided to stop my travels due to ice and bad road conditions.
But by Thursday, the ice was gone and I was ready to add some bright color to the dreary, cold day with a van literally stuffed with rainbow colored birthday bags!
My first stop was the Gillis Campus (Cornerstones of Care). Here is a brief description about Cornerstones of Care taken from their website:
"Individuals receive trauma-informed care by certified staff to develop skills and knowledge that will empower them to live safe, productive and non-violent lives. We do this by meeting the most basic behavioral healthcare needs of our community, including:
Treating trauma and improving individual health
Reuniting families and placing children in foster care in loving homes
Caring for children and young adults with acute mental health needs
Nurturing the self-worth and dignity of all individuals in our care
Above all, we strive to create a safe healing environment that respects dignity and inclusion so our children and families can experience more fulfilling and rewarding lives."
I met with Vicky and Stefanie in the administrative office and we chatted about the event and carried in about 65-70 bags for the kids who live on campus. She told me they have monthly birthday celebrations that they will most likely use the bags at. They have about 50 kiddos who live on site. One kiddo past by us with BIG BRIGHT eyes that lit up when he saw all the bags :)
Next, I was off to Rose Brooks Center. Rose Brooks mission is to break the cycle of domestic violence so that individuals and families can live free of abuse.
"Each year, Rose Brooks Center reaches over 14,000 individuals and pets. While hundreds of individuals find safety in emergency shelter, thousands more are served outside of shelter each year."
I googled the address for Rose Brooks Center and realized it is not publicized. The fact that the address is not public knowledge couldn't stop going through my mind as I drove there. All kinds of questions and thoughts raced through my mind regarding the kiddos that live there. Just the fact that I had to check in with security to get into the parking lot made an impact on me. I met up with Joan who is their volunteer coordinator. She helped me unload about 50 bags and was so thankful for them.
I made a pit stop to Children's Mercy Adele Hall campus downtown because believe it or not-we still had no sew fleece blankets from our December event to drop off! I offered them some birthday bags but because of the latex, they were not able to accept them. These KIND guys helped me carry in the blankets :)
With well over 100 bags still left in the car, I started making phone calls. I first called Kids TLC in Olathe, KS.
"KidsTLC transforms the lives of children and families experiencing mental and behavioral health challenges, developmental trauma, and autism. We create supportive, family-focused therapeutic teams to build resilient, trusting relationships and to transform sometimes painful realities into hopeful futures full of courage and joy.
KidsTLC continues to respond to the growing needs of children in the Kansas City Metro area by adding critically needed services that fill community gaps and alleviate wait times for families to receive care. Programs help children heal on all levels through innovative therapeutic treatment philosophies; expressive therapies such as art, play and music therapy; and through a wealth of opportunities to improve the physical health of clients including the movement towards integrating our mental health services with local health clinics that provide physical health services, increased nutrition/wellness education, and opportunities for physical exercise."
KidsTLC was happy to accept 75+ bags for the children they serve.
Lastly, I stopped at Safehome and donated the remaining 25 or so bags.
"SAFEHOME provides a healing atmosphere where survivors of domestic violence can gain inner strength, build self-esteem, explore options, and establish a life free of violence. Through SAFEHOME’s shelter and community services, approximately 8,000 individuals each year receive the support they need to lead healthy, independent lives."
Again, I had to be buzzed in by a security person. This made me really empathize with the kind of life some of these children must have had prior to living at these organizations. But I also am SO appreciative that we have places like this that support kids who have lived with trauma in their lives.
THIS is the part of KindCraft that is so eye-opening for me. Seeing the neighborhoods surrounding these organizations really makes me grateful for all that we have. Seeing people camped out under bridges downtown, with BRIGHT red hands that must be SO cold. Walking into Children's Mercy, seeing so many there dealing with sickness. There are so many dealing with so much.
Although this group is all about teaching our kids about kindness and serving others, I swear I learn something new through every project we do. Hug your family, smile at people, and think of what you are thankful for and focus on that!!
Please let your kids know that we blessed FOUR organizations with over 200 Birthday Bags. And give them a big high five from me!!