Kansas City’s Focus on Helping Others

By Editor | Posted in Uncategorized on Monday, May 8th, 2017 at 3:21 pm

by ROBERT HELLWEG | photo by ANDREW FAILS

When the Board of Directors of the Rose Brooks Center assembled a committee to help care for its aging facility, little did it know that it had created a committee that would not only take on the cleaning, painting, redecorating, and repairing of the facility but one that would spearhead the successful effort to construct a new facility. When that new facility opened in 2001, this group of dedicated and very closely knit women just kept on giving — time, resources, and energy — to charitable endeavors with the formation of the State Line Service League.

The State Line Service League, or SL squared (SL²), is made up of women professionals from around the city: bankers, lawyers, doctors, CEOs, teachers, and artists. It became incorporated in 2005 as a 501(c)(3) organization with the original purpose of “doing short-term community service projects, with the goal to give back to the community and have fun doing it.”

SL² members have few requirements placed on them, which helps make this a fun and free-spirited group, and this attitude carries over to its fundraising and the way it selects new and ongoing community service projects. There is no financial commitment to membership, and fundraising is by donations and from a biannual art auction that has taken place at the Belger Crane Yard, the Blue Bird Bistro, and the Red Star Gallery.

Offering both“pre-owned”art from SL² members and friends, plus a featured local artist, SL² is able to raise most of its yearly financial requirements from this art auction.

The work selected is done by a vote of the membership, and the selection process itself generates enthusiasm for the projects selected. Favorite themes are food, creativity, education, and investing time to help other organizations.

SL² cooks and shares the culinary results with those in need. You can ask the eager group of diners hosted by Cherith Brook, a homeless outreach facility in the East 12th Street corridor. Rose Brooks remains a special place for SL²’s cooking, where members have prepared and served dinner for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and other special events for the families of the center. Journey to New Life, a local parolee-outreach female-resident facility, has been the recipient of dessert and game nights. At-risk youth at Ozanam are treated to an annual Beach Towels, Barbecue, and Bingo Night. Meals are prepared and shared with Associated Youth Services’ Home Ties teenage boys in residence. SL²ers gather to prepare and share hearty sack lunches for Kansas City’s Urban Rangers, birthday cakes for AYS children in foster care, welcome meals for new residents at Hillcrest Transitional Housing, and snack bags for the children who attend Harmony Project KC, an outreach music education program founded by Laura Shultz, an original SL² member.

SL² members also jump at the chance to be creative. Some of their favorite projects have included painting and redecorating Cherith Brook’s community guest rooms, Samuel U. Rodgers Free Health Clinic’s pediatric waiting room, reStart’s family suites, an apartment at Hillcrest Transitional Housing, and the Victims Waiting Room at KCMO Municipal Court. The group helped to create the mosaic outside the Ronald McDonald House and with landscaping gardening and cleaning Sheffield Place, Swope Park Duchesne Clinic, the Whatsoever Community Center, and the Main Street Mile downtown.

Education is a major focus, and SL² believes that education is the key to a better life. In that effort, it has provided dictionaries to third-graders in local schools through the Dictionary Project, stocked a Little Free Library at Faxon Elementary School, and donated books to Scuola Vita Nuova’s library. The group has also reached out to international causes, such as providing support to a school in Kenya with supplies, soccer balls, and a clean water source, as well as packed care bags for Heart to Heart International’s Haitian tsunami relief project.

Since leading a healthy lifestyle is part of a rounded education, one of the “long-running” projects is sponsoring and helping coach a “Girls on the Run” team at Faxon Elementary School in KCMO. This program involves a curriculum of life lessons, self-esteem, and healthy living, which culminates in a 5K event celebrating the accomplishments of several thousand enthusiastic girls in KC each semester. SL² believes that Faxon girls have learned valuable lessons of self-worth and perseverance through Girls on the Run, and those lessons have also been provided to participating members of SL²!

Although SL² does not donate funds to other organizations, you can see that working with and providing service to other organizations are part of SL²’s “infrastructure.” This is also true in helping other organizations with their fundraisers. Examples of this support are the Metropolitan Lutheran Ministry’s Christmas Store and Spring Fling, Johnson County Christmas Bureau’s store, Harvesters’ Empty Bowls, Southwest Boulevard Family Health Clinic’s Tacos and Beer on the Boulevard, Bridging the Gap’s Earth Walk, and Rose Brooks Center’s Cabaret. SL² was also there with a team for the American Cancer Society’s all night RelayForLife.

The holiday season always includes SL²’s longest-running project to benefit Rose Brooks Center. Members gather at a member’s home for fun and camaraderie as they assemble gift bags for each resident. The evening concludes with a potluck supper and raucous carols around the piano.

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