In this week’s Service Spotlight, Karen Miller of Morning Glory Ministries takes a few minutes to talk about the expanding services provided by one of the longest serving homeless organizations in downtown Kansas City.
Q: Why is Morning Glory Ministries a worthwhile cause for the community of Kansas City?
A: I think being around the volunteers here you will find a genuine sense of conviction for our mission, which is to uphold the inherent, God-given dignity in every human life.
We do that by providing the basic necessities, whether it be food, hygiene products or whatever. It’s meeting them where they are and hopefully having them leave encouraged, uplifted and seeing themselves more as God’s creatures and not someone who has been disregarded by society.
Q: What does the organization’s service demographics look like?
A: We serve primarily homeless men. It’s not how we planned it, but we have a small demographic of low-income residents downtown and also a small segment of elderly people who live in the towers next door. They are precious.
In the summer we find that we see a few more families and on the weekends, I will see children here, but still it’s a very small segment.
Q: What types of programs/services does Morning Glory offer?
A: We serve breakfast Tuesday through Sunday. For those who come to eat and maybe have a job interview or job, we provide a lunch. If they provide a container, we will give them some food so they can take it with them.
We are on target to serve 43,000 guests with our food ministry this year.
After breakfast, Tuesday through Friday morning, the doors to our emergency assistance office opens. Through emergency assistance, we provide transportation assistance, prescription assistance, hygiene, clothing, food and utilities.
What we really find is that our greatest area of needs come in transportation and prescription assistance.
For someone who has a job, if we can confirm an interview, we will help them get there. If they get that job, we can sometimes help them with a monthly bus pass in that first month. If someone comes to us and needs steel-toe boots for work or work-specific clothes, we can try to help them locate that as well.
Q: What does the future hold for Morning Glory?
A: Our goal is to fill gaps and eliminate obstacles. Hopefully, what we continue to do is develop a partnership with assertive community outreach, which is a part of Truman (Medical Centers).
Mental health workers come here about once a week to meet the guys and that eliminates an obstacle for our people. The men feel comfortable here; they feel more comfortable in forming relationships here instead of say meeting them on the street.
Legal aid comes once a month right now and that eliminates an obstacle for guys. They can come to breakfast and then get any legal needs they have taken care of.
We are in talks with the catholic charities and we are hoping that we will be able to get a turnaround program in here. By happenstance, we are real close to a halfway house so people coming out of prison need to be connected.
I’m hoping by bringing a representative here as often as we can, we can eliminate that obstacle of them having to go find a turnaround program. But you know what, sometimes God’s plans are different than ours.
Q: For you personally, why is Morning Glory Ministries special?
A: I do this because I am convicted and I believe with all my heart that if everyone did something, our world would be changed. While we’ve been told we are a band-aid ministry because we primarily feed people, I feel like we give these people the hope and confidence to reach out and make their lives better.
I see that we are casting a stone in the lake as Mother Teresa once said. We are not necessarily seeing the fruits of our efforts every time, but some times we do.
I got call from a man recently who now lives in Florida and is doing well. He used to live here and used our services and he said, “When I was here, it was the lowest and most difficult point of my life. But every time I would come and eat breakfast, I felt like I deserved better.”
He just said to tell the volunteers thank you.