Surgery Co-workers Serving Up Support for the Homeless and Hungry

By Mercy's Madelynn Innes

If you’re feeling down on your luck, consider volunteering. Mercy co-workers who do say it’s not only rewarding but also eye opening.

“It puts into perspective all that I have – but too often take for granted,” explained co-worker Karen Lance from Mercy's Surgery Center in Springfield, Missouri. “Like having three meals a day,” she added. "For some, there’s no certainty of having even one meal.”

Since February, Karen and her co-workers have given up a couple of hours one evening a month after work to prepare and serve meals at Rare Breed’s Youth Outreach Center, a drop-in facility that provides meals and other free services for "at-risk" or homeless youth, ages 13-20.

“As a department we wanted to do something to help people who are less fortunate than we are,” Karen said.  

“There could be as many as 50 to 70 kids show up for dinner. For some, it’s the only thing they’ve eaten all day.”

Rare Breed’s Youth Outreach Center, which is affiliated with The Kitchen, Inc., helps hundreds of homeless or at-risk youth every year. It helps eliminate homelessness, sexual exploitation and abuse by offering necessities, support services and opportunities so they can safely become self-sufficient. Provided services include High School Equivalency (HSE) classes (formerly GED classes) and a nursery with childcare for parenting youth who are in HSE classes.

Karen has volunteered at the Youth Outreach Center before. As part of her requirements for earning her bachelor of nursing degree from Missouri State University, she completed her clinicals there, as well as The Missouri Hotel.

As she and her co-workers plan ahead for April’s dinner menu, she added, “There are already 10 or 20 of us who’ve gotten involved so far. As more people find out about the opportunity and the need, hopefully, more will join in.”

If your department would like to sign up to prepare and serve dinner for a night at The Rare Breed, please contact its Development Director Kippie Kutz at 417-837-1500 or click here. “Our volunteers, donors and advocates enable us to make a positive impact in the lives of homeless and at-risk youth,” Kippie said. "We’re so thankful for the community support The Kitchen, Inc. receives.”

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