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Catholic Charities: “41,000 Square Feet of Great”


Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/21/15

A terrific glimpse inside Catholic Charities in Kansas City, from The Catholic Key:

Teresa Davis. John Carter. Joan Brauninger. Winston Canady. They all think they have the greatest job in the world. They work for Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, serving the greatest people in the world — the poor — and following the call of the greatest teacher in the history of the world — Jesus Christ. “It’s 41,000 square feet of great,” said Davis, the facilities manager whose job is to keep all systems running smoothly in the huge Charities headquarters at 9th and Main in downtown Kansas City. She’s a relative newcomer. “I was offered three jobs,” Davis said. “One of the things that lured me to Catholic Charities was the Welcome Center. They can say we are required (to personally greet everyone who comes to Catholic Charities), but it is a perk.” Carter said he feels the same way. He works maintenance. And he works it extra hard with special pride, not just because of the 125 people who work there, but because of those people who walk through the front door and into the Welcome Center for help. “We want to show people that they have dignity, that they are people of God,” Carter said. “It gives my cleaning a purpose.” Brauninger, the receptionist is both the first voice clients see when they visit and the first voice they hear when they call. “I have the best job in the whole place,” she insisted. “I get to talk to everybody who calls and I get to talk to everybody who comes in. There are characters, and real people.” Canady is a jack-of-all-trades when he is not shuttling the elderly on appointments, or to meals at senior centers on the Charities mini-bus. “Oh, they are a lot of fun,” he said. “I get to be with them, and they are all having a great time.” Well, they are all wrong, Deacon Dan Powers will tell you. He’s got the greatest job in the world. Deacon Powers is the chief executive officer, the guy in charge of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and he got to lead a staff of some 125 through one of its greatest transitions in the agency’s 136-year history — into a full-service, one-stop resource for Kansas City’s poor because of its move to the former Mercantile Bank building, with the space to talk, to move, and to provide services. Take the new clothes closet for example, which accepts donations of gently used clothing for distribution to the poor. “We had one gentleman who said, ‘I’ve never owned a suit in my life,’” Deacon Powers said. “So we brought him in here and found him a suit that fit him perfectly. Then we got him a shirt, tie, belt and shoes — the whole works.” But that wasn’t all. The man had come looking for a job through Catholic Charities’ new Workforce Development program. Charities set him up for an interview for a warehouse job. “He wore the suit to his interview,” Deacon Powers said.

Read it all. 

Photo: Kevin Kelly / Catholic Key

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