by STACY DOWNS | photos by LAURIE KILGORE
The brisker weather of autumn is just around the corner, so it’s nearly time to cozy up and hunker down at home.
Perhaps in your own favorite spot.
“I love it when homeowners can carve out a special space just for them,” says interior designer Sara Noble of Noble Designs. “It allows them to design a space that is not only functional for their specific needs, but it also lets us play with an aesthetic that really fits their tastes.”
PLANNING YOUR SPECIAL PLACE
You don’t have to have a man cave or a she shed to carve out your own nook at home. To get started, whether it’s planning on your own or with a designer, the most important thing to determine is how you want to use the space – whether it’s for work, play, or both. “This helps us determine what functionality must be built into the space,” Noble says.
Perhaps you have some favorite artwork or furniture you want to add in.
“After that, it’s always fun to look at what inspires,” Noble says, “whether it’s clippings from a magazine, Pinterest boards, or Instagram saves.”
TRENDS IN PERSONALIZED SPACES
What Noble loves about design right now is that the lines between traditional masculinity and femininity are blurred.
“Blush is being used everywhere, and men aren’t scared of it,” she says. “Women love dark colors for a more moody feel.”
But when Noble and her team get the opportunity to design for just one gender, it’s fun to play up that man cave and women’s lounge.
“For men, it’s great to use rich color, stains, and paint everything including the trim for a cozy feel,” she says. “For her, it’s shades of pink and softer curves.
The Westmeyers are not new to house renovations. They have moved and improved numerous houses but this one is different. Their new home in Hallbrook is more of a permanent residence – and it should be. The bones of the home are gorgeous. This classic colonial-style home has large white columns and an all-brick facade that create the feeling of old Southern charm. The inside, while well done, was a bit dated.
So the Westmeyers called Noble to help implement their vision. The formal living room is a perfect ladies lounge. The mix of crystal and blush gave the space a formal, soft feel. It’s perfect for tea or cocktails.
The theater room was more of a cozy room good for sports events or the latest movie. While the molding was added to give the space a feel that fit the rest of the house, the dark grays and plaids were added to make it his space. It’s cozy with flannel gray upholstered walls. And while it’s a great guys’ space, truth be known, the whole family is happy down there.
by KELSEY CIPOLLA | photos courtesy of KEEP THE SPARK ALIVE FOUNDATION
Sometimes you choose a cause, and, sometimes, tragically, a cause chooses you. That was the case for Sylvia and Nathan Harrell, whose teenage son, Chad, died by suicide on June 12, 2017.
“When Chad died, our first innate reaction was that we wanted to dig a hole and we wanted to curl up in a ball and bury ourselves in that hole as deep as we possibly could,” Nathan says. “But we also knew, based on what we were going through, that we would not be able to lay our heads on our pillow at night if we did not do something to help.”
Through their Keep the Spark Alive Foundation, the Harrells are honoring their son’s memory while raising funds for suicide awareness and prevention initiatives. The foundation’s inaugural golf tournament in May raised more than $150,000 for the Blue Valley School District’s K–12 resiliency and suicide prevention and awareness curriculum. The family also started a support group for teens who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Unfortunately, the Harrells are just one of many local families whose lives have been touched by suicide. Missouri and Kansas are ranked 13th and 15th in the nation when it comes to states with the most deaths by suicide, and the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics show suicide rates are on the rise.
SUICIDE AND TEENS
In recent years, suicide among teens has become particularly prevalent – between 2006 and 2016, there was an almost 70-percent increase. In addition to the program at Blue Valley, a growing number of schools are also incorporating Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City’s You Be You campaign, developed in collaboration with Bernstein-Rein Advertising.
The campaign is designed to reach teens with a positive message of self-worth and value and includes a website with resources, school-specific videos, social media, posters, stickers, T-shirts, and more. Student organizations at each of the schools help roll out the campaign and host events that align with its message, says Sarah Link Ferguson, Jewish Family Service’s mental health coalition coordinator.
“We want students to really establish buy-in and become advocates for other classmates who they see are struggling,” she says.
You Be You launched last year at 13 schools on both sides of the state line and will be in 23 schools this fall. One of the biggest takeaways from focus groups conducted during the first year was the need for programming and resources for parents. Students said they were comfortable talking about mental health among their peers but were afraid to talk to adults, including their parents, because they didn’t necessarily seem to want to hear it or know how to respond.
Link Ferguson is now working to develop resources for parents with program partner Speak Up, a local foundation created by two families who lost loved ones to suicide that works to bridge the gaps between community, schools, and parents.
Rennie Shuler-McKinney, director of clinical services at Shawnee Mission Health’s Behavioral Health Center, encourages parents to start having conversations with their kids early, to create an environment where they feel comfortable telling you what’s going on.
“Teenagers, just as their brains are developing, don’t have that ability to really think down the road into the future,” she explains. “They see the here and now as the absolute.”
Although it can be difficult for people struggling to see any hope, Shuler-McKinney says those who do seek help are able to find relief from some of their symptoms.
Kevin Timmons, co-owner of Nick & Jake’s, wants to better connect local youths to mental health resources, after his son, Nick, the restaurant’s namesake, died by suicide last year, Timmons and company created the Nick’s Voice Fund, which aims to create a dramatic effect on the suicide rates in the Kansas City area. Through Nick & Jake’s annual golf fundraiser, Fore the Kids, more than $450,000 was raised, funding immediate psychiatric help at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
“We wanted to try to put kids in a position where there’s a better chance to talk to psychiatrists about their problems,” he says.
FINDING SUPPORT, FIGHTING STIGMA
One of the biggest barriers to suicide prevention and awareness continues to be that suicide is so stigmatized. “When we don’t talk about something, we can’t change something; we can’t make something better,” says Kevin McGuire, the mobile crisis response team leader for Johnson County Mental Health Center and co-chair of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Although deaths by suicide receive attention immediately after they happen, McGuire would like to see conversations and preventative efforts happening beyond crises. Creating opportunities for those conversations is the focus of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition, which serves as a hub for suicide prevention in Johnson County and the broader community, working to provide education and resources and to help remind people that suicide happens here, whether we like it or not.
Local support is also available for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Bonnie and Mickey Swade founded Suicide Awareness Survivor Support (SASS) after they lost their son Brett in 2003. Although they found attending a support group helpful, they decided to start their own specifically for those who have lost loved ones through suicide. Today, there are groups throughout the metro.
“A suicide support group is not like just a grief support group, because when you lose someone from suicide, you have all kinds of questions: ‘What could have happened?’ ‘What did I do wrong?’ ‘How could I have stopped the suicide?’ You have more questions, I think, than someone who has lost a loved one from cancer or some other disease,” Bonnie says.
In addition to the support groups, SASS hosts events like Hope for the Holidays and an annual day of healing to provide therapeutic opportunities for survivors of suicides.
“You never really get over the loss,” Bonnie says, “but you get through it.”
Aristocrat Motors, the leading high-end, luxury dealership in the Kansas City automotive market, is looking to add a qualified PART-TIME CUSTOMER SERVICE SPECIALIST to our team!
Candidates should be friendly and outgoing with a helpful and customer focused attitude. Responsibilities include:
· Answering phones and routing calls.
· Scheduling appoints for service.
· Answering customer questions.
· Helping to create the best ownership experience on earth!
The position is roughly 28 hours a week and is Monday thru Friday. The candidate MUST be able to work until 6:00 p.m. each week night.
Aristocrat Motors offers a unified team environment and ongoing training and support for its employees. You can apply by visiting the following Web site at or you can respond directly to this ad with your resume. We look forward to hearing from you!
Seeking the Nicest Person Ever, Who Can Drive a Vehicle….
Aristocrat Motors is looking for a part-time customer service shuttle driver to drive our employee shuttle bus. Applicants should have a flexible schedule.
Aristocrat Motors, a leading high-end, luxury dealership in the Kansas City automotive market, is looking to add a qualified FULL OR PART TIME AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE TECHNICIAN to our team! We are looking for an experienced Porsche Classic technician. Candidate must have skills and knowledge with air/oil cooled engines as well as water cooled powertrains. You must be organized, able to work independently and in a group environment. If you have the necessary skills our state of the art facility awaits you.
Aristocrat Motors offers a unified team environment, great benefits, and ongoing training, and support for its employees. If you are in alignment with our values of integrity, transparency, professionalism and teamwork- now might be the time for you to accelerate your career as part of the best company in automotive retail. Apply today or refer a qualified friend. You can apply directly by visiting the following or you can respond directly to this ad with your resume. We look forward to hearing from you!
Job Responsibilities include but are not limited to…
· Test drive vehicles to test components and systems
· Ability to use diagnostic tools and special service equipment.
· Diagnose, maintain, and repair vehicle systems including engine, transmission, electrical steering, suspension, brakes, air conditioning, etc.
· Perform work specified on the repair order with efficiency and in accordance with dealership policies
· Communicate directly with the Service Advisor so that customers can be informed if any additional service is needed
· Provide an estimate of time needed for additional repairs
In addition to competitive pay, we offer our associates the following benefits:
· Health, Dental, Vision, Life, and Disability insurance
· 401(k) plan with company match
· Paid Time-Off
· Employee Vehicle Purchase Program
· Professional work environment, with job training and advancement opportunities
· At least 1 year dealership experience
· Must own hand tools
photos by ANDREW FAILS
The Kansas City Auto Show took the stage at Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City a little earlier than usual this year, because opening night was February 28. From the opening to the closing on Sunday, March 4, the brands that we represent were on display.
The Auto Show this year could boast a 15-percent increase in attendance from the previous year, and the Bartle Convention Hall housed over 435 cars on display to the automotive aficionado.
From the 16-car Mercedes-Benz display, through Porsche, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, and Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vans, the display, supported by Aristocrat Motors and Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City, was once again the star of the show.
“This is an annual event that showcases the retail automotive industry in the Kansas City market, and we are proud to be able to represent the very best of that market with our brands and our associates,” stated Marion Battaglia, president of the Soave Automotive Group. “This year the work our staff did at the show and the quality of our exhibits were actually recognized as ‘Best-in- Show’ by the people who counted the most, the show visitors.”
by KELSEY CIPOLLA | photos courtesy of PHOENIX FAMILY
There are no cookie-cutter solutions at Phoenix Family. Instead, staff is on site working on thoughtful, personalized solutions for residents every day at the 35 properties the organization partners with in service of Phoenix Family’s mission: Empowering people living in low-income housing communities with the support they need to gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency.
“What that means for each of our individual residents can be very different, because one of the things we really pride ourselves on is that we are meeting people where they are, and that can be a high level of self-sufficiency, or it could be they were previously homeless or near homelessness,” says Executive Director Kimber Myers Givner.
Residents are facing steep challenges. In the Kansas City area, the wait for affordable multi-family housing is two to three years, and the average yearly income of the households Phoenix Family serves is $6,900, well below the federal poverty level for even an individual.
When people move into a residential community that Phoenix Family serves, they become eligible for the organization’s services, which are facilitated by an onsite coordinator. In multi-family communities, the heads of the household may need helping furnishing their new apartment, developing career skills to help them find a job or get a better job, learning about financial literacy, or finding a path to getting their GED. Phoenix Family also provides home education, which covers subjects like housekeeping and parenting.
For kids, Phoenix Family offers a free literacy-based after-school program called HIKE. Children who enter the program are tested in five core areas and receive a curriculum specific to their needs. An onsite reading specialist and volunteers work with kids on the areas that need improvement. The program also supplies participants with a meal.
In senior living communities, programming is focused on balanced living, which includes mental and physical health, providing residents with home help services and helping them navigate Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Every site has blood pressure and blood sugar screenings once a month in case people aren’t able to get to their doctors, and fresh produce is delivered monthly, since many communities are in food deserts, and seniors may not have access to transportation.
If it sounds like Phoenix Family works on an almost staggering number of fronts to help residents, it’s because that’s what is required, Myers Givner says.
“I wish there was one thing that if everybody did it, he or she wouldn’t be in poverty, but it’s a multitude of factors,” Myers Givner explains.
Over her 20 years with the organization, Myers Givner says she’s met many residents who she could relate to, people who were successful and then lost everything.
“One of the things overall that I wish people knew was that nobody wants to live in poverty. It’s not something somebody really chooses,” she says. “At many times, choices might lead to that, but a person also may have not been equipped from the very beginning either from an education standpoint, from a professional standpoint, a literacy standpoint, to have those tools in his or her toolbox to be successful.”
And although we might not notice it, poverty exists in our own backyard, Myers Givner says, noting that Phoenix House has communities throughout the metro, including in Johnson County, as well as in Iowa.
In total, Phoenix Family serves 6,000 residents each day, despite having an annual budget of only $3 million and 57 employees across all program sites as well as in the home office. Because of the organization’s small staff size, volunteers play a vital role.
“Volunteers are so critical to the success of our programs, not only on the youth and the family side, but also the senior side,” Myers Givner says.
Volunteers are given the chance to help the organization in a way that fits with their personal interests and goals and work directly with residents so they get to see firsthand the difference their efforts make. Those personal connections between volunteers, staff, and residents are a big part of what makes Phoenix Family successful. Relationships often continue even after residents move out and move on, allowing Phoenix Family to see how they go on to thrive.
Myers Givner warmly recalls watching one of the kids she worked with early on in her career give a commencement speech at her graduation. Others check in, telling her about buying homes, graduating college, and their other adventures.
“Those successes, that we’re connected to people even after they’ve exited poverty, that is amazing,” she says. “A lot of programs are very temporary and very transitional. I think what’s unique about Phoenix is that we’re so invested in their lives on site, that even when they’ve left the property, we continue those relationships.”
by STACY DOWNS | photos by ANNA PETROW
The slooooow start to the season has us pondering this question: What should you add to your home to shoo away blah weather and make it feel fresh like spring year-round?
The antidote and the answer: Houseplants!
However, most of us aren’t born with a green thumb. Sure, we could help solve that problem by reading one of the many books on the topic, but to make it easy on ourselves, we called an expert.
Jaclyn Joslin, Kansas City interior designer and owner of Coveted Home, has us covered. She fills her Country Club Plaza store as well as her clients’ homes and her personal abode with smartly placed plants.
“A place without plants looks like no one lives or works there,” Joslin says. “Just a few plants can change the feeling of a space. They bring it to life.”
Yes, there is such thing as a trendy type of houseplant. No doubt in the past few years, you’ve seen succulents. Everywhere. Even the grocery store.
“They’ll always be popular because they’re pretty low-maintenance,” Joslin says. “But a lot of people think you don’t have to water them. And even though they require a lot less water than most plants, they still do need some water and attention.”
Joslin waters her succulents every week or two.
This year, sculptural plants are taking center stage. Think the ones with the large fan-like leaves, such as banana trees or palms.
The most popular of the popular, though, is the split-leaf philodendron (Monstera deliciosa) with its heartshaped leaves that can reach more than a foot long and wide. As the leaves mature, they develop holes in the center that eventually elongate all the way to the edge of the leaf, splitting the leaf into smaller sections.
TRIED, TESTED, AND TRUE
If you’re looking for simple beyond succulents, Joslin suggests a pothos plant (Epipremnum aureum).
“They’re perfect for the office because if the leaves wilt if you forget about them for a while, they will pop right back up with a little water,” she says. “They’re a very popular plant, but beware: pothos is toxic if ingested by children or pets.”
Joslin also likes snake plants (Sansevieria). They don’t need much light or water – just water once every few weeks.
Another easy-peasy type is a rubber plant (Ficus elastica).
“It is versatile, and can do low or high light and is low maintenance in terms of watering,” she says.
The plant is so low-maintenance that Joslin waters only once every two weeks.
If you’re looking for a challenge…
Joslin often gets compliments from clients and customers on the showy fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) at Coveted Home.
The fiddle-leaf fig is one of those tall, sculptural numbers you see on magazine covers. Its leaves are shaped like violins — that’s how it earned its name. Its waxy, dark, dramatic foliage provides a striking contrast to the light walls of sun-filled rooms.
“They’re popular, but I don’t recommend them to everyone,” she says. “They need a lot of sun and they don’t like to be moved. A lot of people end up killing them because they do take a lot of responsibility.”
But, in their defense, they are stunning.
There’s typically a plant in nearly each room Joslin designs:
• In the kitchen on counters and open shelving.
• In the living room on a coffee table.
• In the office on a desk.
• In a bedroom next to a dresser.
“Plants make good endcaps for bigger pieces of furniture,” she says.
Joslin loves adding tall plants to a room for height variation.
“They get bigger than your floor lamps,” she says. “It’s a great way to take your eye up and across the room.”
In rooms without much floor space, Joslin hangs plants from the ceiling.
Plants also can provide the panacea to odd nooks and crannies.
“There was a spot next to a fireplace that looked so dead,” she says. “I put a plant there and it finished that corner.”
Besides making a room look better, plants help a room feel good, too. They’re natural air purifiers, removing pollutants by absorbing them through their leaves and roots.
So after the disruption of construction in Joslin’s home, her plants provided an aesthetically pleasing and serene source of comfort.
by PATRICIA O’DELL | photos by TOM STYRKOWICZ
Can you smell the ocean? Feel the sand between your toes? Maybe hear the rhythm of the waves? Lina Dickinson and Melanie Bolin, founders of Mer-Sea, a line of products inspired by the sea can, even when they are home in Kansas City.
“We are travelers,” says Bolin. “Sometimes we are actually traveling and sometimes we are just tapping into that mindset.” Business partners for over five years, both women lived in California before moving to Kansas City for their husbands’ careers. Once they were settled and had their children in the groove of school and activities, they realized that they had similar dreams.
Bolin and Dickinson were interested in starting a business and both still felt a strong connection to the ocean, though they were happily planted in the Midwest. They agreed that the sea would be their muse. It may have seemed a curious plan for partners who were landlocked.
“One of our biggest advantages is that we are not by a beach,” says Bolin. “That gives us the gift of focus.”
The friends remember how elementary starting the business was. With backgrounds in product development, business, and sales, they had solid skills and experience. The creative essence of the company was built on instinct. They began developing scents, testing formulas, and making decisions about packaging. Then they began to market.
“It makes me laugh now,” says Bolin. “We didn’t even have an accountant then, and I was processing orders. I wasn’t even using a ledger. I just had this notebook and I’d write down the 24 orders and cross them off one by one as we filled them.”
Specialty retailers began to find Mer-Sea through their website and word of mouth. Soon there was an accountant and significantly more than 24 orders. The business was growing and Mer-Sea hired sales reps to handle their nationwide accounts. Then they had a big surprise.
“Anthropologie found us,” says Dickinson. “It wasn’t in our vision that we were ready for that.”
In fact, the upscale, cool-girl boutique with stores nationwide sought them out and wanted them to develop a collection exclusively for the brand.
“Anthropologie is known for building small businesses,” say Bolin. “We have ongoing storylines with them, and they have really raised the bar on creativity for us.”
As the business enters its sixth year, the partners talk of Mer-Sea like another child.
“We talk about it growing up,” says Bolin. “In the beginning, everything that happened was perfect, like a baby’s first smile.” “Then we hit the terrible twos,” she remembers, laughing.
“But even now, as the business is older, it’s still like parenting. We are learning to let go. We have to let other people do their thing.”
Each woman is grateful to have the collaboration.
“Our desks are side-by-side. We text each other in the evenings. It works so well to have two people involved in the decision-making process. One may hesitate and the other can see that we are ready,” says Bolin.
“The dialogue moves us forward,” Dickinson agrees.
“Sometimes when we’re busy and both on the phones, Lina will just push her chair back and say, ‘This is awesome!’ It’s a great energy,” says Bolin.
Dickinson admits that there are challenges.
“Balance is difficult. It takes so much time and energy. Whatever I have left goes to my family, so my poor friends get shortchanged. Sometimes I’m not sure if I have any friends left, “ she says, laughing.
She is, however, adapting.
“I didn’t know if there would ever be a time when I wasn’t involved with everything. But, as we have grown, I have been able to let amazing people around me take things off my plate.”
The partners – and the business – continue to move forward. As Mer-Sea grows, Bolin and Dickinson understand that expansion may come in different directions.
“Some of it people tell you – what they want to see – either verbally or through sales,” says Bolin.
While Mer-Sea has been successful in fragrance and home goods, the company is expanding the travel mindset to include soft goods like a broader line of travel wraps, new bags, and jewelry.
“We’re starting to have conversations about where that may take us,” says Dickinson.
Still, the devil is in the details. Bolin is responsible for product design and she’s focused – and excited – by small details that make the products stand out. It’s important to both women that they are constantly learning, doing interesting things, and engaged in the world around them. They are creating product for people who see the world in the same way.
“We are discovering new things, seeing what is possible that a short time ago wasn’t in our view,” says Bolin. “It’s a traveler’s mindset.” .
To find Mer-Sea products at retailers near you or to shop online, visit mersea.com.