‘People learn to live again here:’ Kansas City’s Healing House expands to meet growing need

‘People learn to live again here:’ Kansas City’s Healing House expands to meet growing need

Nine hundred women were undergoing inpatient treatment for substance abuse, but only 24 of them had access to safe residential beds following treatment. That was the story in Kansas City around 2001, when Bobbi Jo Reed purchased a home in the city’s historic northeast area and invited 10 recovering women to live there. Today, her nonprofit Healing House shelters 175 women and 30 children – and serves hundreds more through programming.

“People learn how to live again here,” Reed says. “It’s not just the treatment, which gives people knowledge about their disease. It’s not just taking away the drugs and alcohol. I have grown women who have children who have never operated a washing machine, never cooked a meal. What we do here is teach people how to live.”

Over the years, Healing House acquired 10 former drug houses and transformed them into transitional housing for women and children. As they added to their residential spaces, they discovered they didn’t have a facility large enough to accommodate group programs. Then they became the lead Kansas City organization in the state’s targeted response to the opioid epidemic, and their need for programming space ballooned even further.

“Now we’re talking about people who don’t live here, but who will come in to participate in services. It’s a total game-changer for us,” Reed says. “We looked into rebuilding existing space. We looked into building on a neighboring lot. None of it gave us the space we’d need for the future, and of course financing is always an issue for nonprofits. But then my friend found IFF.”

IFF is providing $1.1 million in financing to bridge Healing House’s capital campaign to support a new 9,000-square-foot Addiction Recovery Center, which will include a large fellowship and dining hall, commercial kitchen, computer lab, private counseling spaces, group programming spaces, and staff offices.

“Knowing the money is there for us if we need it changed everything. We knew we could move forward with construction with this low-interest loan and continue to raise funds as we build. IFF gave us that comfort and ability,” Reed says. “Nonprofits are just barely getting by, and it’s very hard to do a capital campaign. But if you can break ground and make progress, more and more people get excited and engaged, so the money starts to flow.”

The new building, set to open in early 2019, can seat up to 350 people. With 120 unique volunteers per month, 175 residents, and dozens more coming in for programming, Healing House is certain to be a full house.

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