By Dr. Ferrell Miller
JC Breakfast Optimist Club
Karren Kilpatrick was the guest speaker at the JC Breakfast Optimist Club Celebration of Optimist gathering on November 23. She is a graduate of Junction City High School and earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Washburn University in Topeka. Karren served four years in the United States Army in communication.
While living in Jacksonville, Florida, Miss Kilpatrick helped a homeless person apply for a job online. The person she was helping had little or no computer skills, a computer, or a phone on which she could complete an application. “Sometimes people need a fresh start. They need a hand up, not a handout. The woman got the job and is now a manager of a department store”, Karren said.
“Another thing I did in Jacksonville was to purchase some burgers and go with a friend to a park to give the homeless people a burger and interview them about how to prevent or continue being homeless by using agencies and groups that can help them. I came to Junction City for several months visit with my parents and realized there were people right here who needed help. I am still here”, she said.
The Open Door had closed its doors. According to the Kansas State Department of Education Homeless Children and Youth (McKinney-Vento) 2019-2020 Data, there were 220 homeless students in Geary County.
Karren stated that “this community, including Fort Riley, has really stepped up and supported us. There was a need to refurbish rooms and do other work to get the building open again to provide service to the homeless on a short-term basis. The Fresh Start Board began recruiting individuals and groups to Adopt-A-Room by either cleaning a room and furnishing it or donating $500.00 to have others do the same. Numerous fundraisers were held to purchase supplies and other things needed.”
The greatest need at this point is to find an Executive Director and volunteers to work at the facility during the times the building is open at 136 W. 3rd Street. The building is only open for people to get fed, shower and change clothes from 12:00 until 4:00 PM each day. The maximum stay is 30 days. An evaluation is done every 7 days to be sure the person is applying for jobs, has a case manager and they are getting or attempting to get needed services in the community.
For more information about Fresh Start call 785-390-0102 or email [email protected]