While it’s been cold lately, it has been a good time to plan for the New Year, reflect and make some pledges. The Kansas City Center for Inclusion (KCCI) set new milestones in 2018, which will serve us well for 2019. We have reached a point of sustainability, and we are well-positioned to achieve even more in the community.
Notably, we increased our traffic at the Center by more than 25 percent. More than 4,000 individuals came through our doors in 2018. Also notable were our outreach efforts, which expanded to more than 40 events outside of the Center. This included our Equality Teen Prom, which engaged more than 150 young people, as well as about 50 parents.
We are pleased to announce that this year’s prom is scheduled for May 3 at Founders Hall on the campus of the Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.
When all of our outreach and events are included, we came in contact with about 13,870 folks last year. This does not include our social media presence, which included over 200,000 reaches on Facebook alone.
This is also the time of year when we welcome in a new board to help lead our organization. We are excited to welcome back board chair Craig Thomas; board co-chair Stedmond Ware, secretary J.N. Hernandez, immediate past president Darin Challacombe, and James Townsend. New to the KCCI board this year are Alex Salazar, Amy Simmons, Branden Haralson, Veronica Carrillo, Melissa Brown, Seto Herrera, Inoru Wade, Dylan Severson and Marco Drummond.
Currently, we are working with AmeriCorps to bring on a VISTA volunteer, who will help us with volunteer management and grant writing. Grants have not been part of our fiscal plan, but they will be instrumental as we move forward in growing our services and becoming a community center for the metro area.
In considering our mission, we also must understand our purpose. We exist to enrich lives, save lives, and create safer spaces for the LGBTQ+ community. These are our three pillars of service.
Enriching lives: We do this through programming that is relevant to the times and that reflects the LGBTQ+ community’s calendar, such as Transgender Day of Visibility, AIDS Walk, Pride, etc. Additionally, we plan to provide programming that addresses economic challenges and relevant political topics and to provide social services directly or through tight collaboration with other agencies. This would include workshops on job skills and entrepreneurial skills, as well as an LGBTQ+ Job Fair in late summer.
Saving lives: We do this through programming that addresses self-harm, and suicide awareness and support. We also plan to provide programming for safer sex, including HIV awareness in underserved populations.
Creating safer spaces: To do this, we’ll use pop-up outreach, including regular office hours around the metro at other agencies. We also have developed curriculum for diversity and inclusivity training to share with organizations in order to create safer spaces beyond our walls for the LGBTQ+ community.
We have big dreams for 2019. Please join us as we continue to grow. There are many ways to help. If interested in being a volunteer, a collaborating agency, or an organization that wants to do more for the LGBTQ+ community, please do not hesitate to reach out, stop by, or engage us in conversation. We will be out and about much more this year.
Samantha Ruggles is executive director for the Kansas City Center for Inclusion.
KCCI FEBRUARY CALENDAR
3911 Main St, KC, MO 64111 • (816) 753-7770
Feb. 1 1-4 p.m. Unity Friday
Feb. 2 Noon-2 p.m. Bear Mafia
Feb. 5 6-8 p.m. Creatively Queer Writing Workshop
Feb. 8 1-4 p.m. Unity Friday
Feb. 12 6-8 p.m. HRC Steering Committee
6-9 p.m. Heart of America Softball League (HASL) Board Meeting
Feb. 15 1-4 p.m. Unity Friday
Feb. 19 6-8 p.m. Creatively Queer Writing Workshop
Feb. 20 6-8 p.m. Black Transmen Akanni Meeting
Feb. 21 5-8 p.m. EQUAL Trans Support Group
Feb. 22 1- 4 p.m. Unity Friday
Feb. 23 2- 4 p.m. Heart of America Softball League
5:30-8 p.m. Mature Adult Gay Group (MAGG) Potluck
Feb. 24 3- 5 p.m. PFLAG Support Group
Feb. 26 6-8 p.m. HIMM Project
Feb. 27 6-9 p.m. LGBTQIA Board Gaymers
Subject to change. Please check our calendar online for updates at www.inclusivekc.org/events/