KC Footprints: Empowering Veterans Through Community Building and Personal Responsibility
KC Footprints, a well-respected organization in Kansas City, cherishes veterans’ stories and experiences of veterans and actively engages with them through community service initiatives. By providing meaningful opportunities for veterans to give back to their communities, KC Footprints fosters personal growth, camaraderie, and a sense of purpose. Through community service projects, KC Footprints exemplifies the transformative potential of veterans’ contributions beyond their military service.
Helping Homeless Veterans Since 2001
Since its founding in 2001, KC Footprints has brought help and healing to veterans recovering from substance use disorders and has provided shelter and hope to homeless veterans. Their services include outpatient treatment, transitional housing, support group meetings, life skills training, and a drop-in center.
In partnership with the Veterans Administration (VA), KC Footprints offers housing and case management for homeless veterans, which includes counseling and transportation. This collaboration ensures that veterans receive comprehensive support to address their needs and create a solid foundation for their transition to stable, independent lives.
Supporting Veterans’ Transition
Helping veterans overcome homelessness is a primary focus for KC Footprints. Recognizing the challenges that often arise during this period, the organization offers programs and activities to help veterans build new skills, establish networks, and find a sense of belonging within their local communities.
Through collaborative efforts with community partners, businesses, and organizations, KC Footprints creates customized community service projects designed for veterans. These initiatives serve as a bridge, allowing veterans to use their unique skills while connecting with fellow veterans and community members who share a common goal of making a positive impact.
One notable project by KC Footprints is the Footprints: Heroes Home Gate (HHG) a 24-hour program that serves homeless veterans. According to a study by KC Footprints, Over the past 20 years, HHG has successfully provided permanent housing for 70% of the veterans it has served, amounting to a total of 100 veterans housed annually. Program participants receive essential support–three meals a day, case managers, a clinical supervisor, and program assistants–and assistance getting IDs and birth certificates necessary to access services and find housing. The program works with a broad range of veterans – those who have disabilities who may already receive disability payments, others who have service-connected income, and more who are employed or seeking employment.
Ensuring Stability and Wellbeing
One of KC Footprints’ impactful initiatives is their partnership with other Kansas City organizations through the Supportive Services For Veterans and their Families (SSVF) program. For veterans who are looking for homes, SSVF helps with application fees, deposits, and up to six months’ rent. Additionally, HHG provides similar funding: application fees and deposits, and some assistance with evictions. Once the documentation is in place, KC Footprints helps veterans find permanent housing, ensuring their stability and well-being.
However, even before addressing housing or employment, KC Footprints prioritizes veterans’ basic needs: physical and mental well-being. Through its partnership with the VA, KC Footprints facilitates access to primary care and mental health services.
Promoting Financial Literacy
Recognizing the importance of financial well-being, KC Footprints offers veterans the opportunity to enroll in a program where they resolve outstanding financial obstacles. Emphasizing the importance of veterans having “skin in the game,” KC Footprints encourages those with income to erase their financial burdens. By engaging veterans in this process, the organization ensures personal responsibility and a fresh start as veterans transition to new living arrangements, while also alleviating potential difficulties and complications that might arise from past debt.
KC Footprints emphasizes the importance of financial literacy as veterans move forward in their lives and highlight the potential hardships veterans may encounter if they carry financial baggage into their new homes. To address this, KC Footprints regularly verifies veterans’ income and expenses, providing tips for effective money management. For veterans who have struggled with substance abuse or poor financial management, KC Footprints offers suggestions to establish a stable financial foundation. By equipping veterans with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate their finances, KC Footprints strives to empower them to achieve greater stability, independence, and peace of mind in their financial lives.
Promoting Collaboration and Camaraderie
“We strive to create a supportive environment where veterans can engage in meaningful social events,” emphasized Joel Bailey, Director of Footprints: Heroes Home Gate. Bailey highlighted the organization’s recent collaboration with the Bob Woodruff Foundation, NFL Salute to Service, and Little Caesars Love Kitchen. Such events offer invaluable opportunities for veterans to witness the dedication of the community, organizations, and foundations to their well-being. By facilitating interactions with everyday individuals, KC Footprints fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie among veterans, enabling them to forge connections and socialize in a positive and uplifting atmosphere. Additionally, these events often encourage veterans to interact with their families in a healthy and enjoyable manner.
Unveiling a Revolutionary $7.6 Million Campus
With an innovative $7.6 million veterans’ campus on the horizon – the groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for August 2023 – KC Footprints is poised to make a much greater impact. The new campus will be a haven for veterans, providing them with comprehensive facilities and amenities to support their well-being. Notably, the campus will house a state-of-the-art workout center, a yoga room, and a recreational space with pool and ping pong tables. Additionally, veterans will have access to a media room for gaming, a movie theater, and a library, along with a mental health and wellness center, ensuring holistic care.
“It’s going to be a state-of-the-art center that we’re really excited about opening and giving to people in the community on the east side of Kansas City.” Joel, Director of KC Footprints said. Veterans on campus will thrive, while support will also extend to veterans beyond its walls. The anticipation surrounding this project is palpable, as it promises to serve as a beacon of hope and a symbol of empowerment for veterans in the region.