For those of you who were unable to join us at CSL’s Centennial Gala on November 12, we want to share the following story of “How Crystal Got Her Smile Back”. This is the actual script that was presented that evening and illustrates how our entire communities MUST – and DID – come together to make meaningful and lasting change in one family’s life.
- Cindy McClain, Co-Chair of our Second Century of Service Campaign and Supporter of CSL
I’m Cindy McClain, Co-Chair of CSL’s Second Century of Service Campaign. Tonight we’re going to pause to tell you a story that illustrates why we support CSL, and why your support is important. This is Crystal’s story. Crystal is a 35 year-old mother of eight who is adored by her children. She is a hard-worker – she worked for 9 years at the same job, often living paycheck to paycheck, doing the best she could to support her family on her own. But friends… poverty is exhausting… and despite her best efforts, Crystal and her family found themselves homeless off and on for years, and were facing homelessness once more when they were referred to CSL.
- Jim MacDonald, Senior Vice President for Community Investment, United Way Greater Kansas City, Family Stability Funder
I’m Jim MacDonald, Senior Vice President of Community Investment for United Way of Greater Kansas City. In the fall of 2014, we approached CSL and the Independence School District with an innovative partnership opportunity called the Family Stability Program. The one and only goal of this program is to keep children, like Crystal’s, who are at risk of homelessness stably enrolled in their neighborhood school and advancing academically. We provide annual support to CSL to make sure that families receive the help they need to remain in their homes.
- Dred Scott, Independence School District
I’m Dred Scott, Deputy Superintendent for the Independence School District. When Jim approached us with this opportunity, it was very natural for the District to embrace. As educators, we know that kids who are constantly moving from place to place, or become homeless don’t perform as well as their peers in school… How could they? Students who are transient are absent more often, have difficulty learning, and exhibit behavioral issues because of the trauma that instability brings. CSL is one of the District’s most trusted community resources, and was the first place our social workers called after learning of Crystal’s situation.
- Bruce Bailey, Family Stability Program
I’m Bruce Bailey and I manage CSL’s Family Stability Program. When I received the call from the Independence School District, the first priority was to ensure that Crystal’s family remained housed and her kids enrolled in school. We were able to rapidly stabilize their situation by providing rent and utility relief, and paying for needed car repairs so Crystal could continue to get to and from work. On average, it takes about $2,500 to move families from crisis to stability. However, after getting to know Crystal and her family, it became evident that they needed more long-term assistance to avoid facing homelessness again.
- Amber Bauer, Housing Counseling Program
I’m Amber Bauer, and I manage CSL’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program. After being introduced to Crystal by my colleague Bruce, I knew right away that she would qualify for our permanent supportive housing program. So last November, Crystal was able to move into a new home that would accommodate her large family. Not only did Crystal and her family get to experience the assurance of permanent residency, but also the commitment that CSL would pay the majority of her monthly rent for as long as she needs it – a huge blessing to her family, providing both stability to her children and financial freedom to Crystal. Additionally, Crystal is now able to provide for her family in ways she’d never been able to do before, and her children are excelling in and out of school because of her hard work. I couldn’t be more proud of all she’s accomplished!
- Lynette Wheeler, Chief Operating Officer, Truman Medical Center
I’m Lynette Wheeler, Chief Operating Officer at Truman Medical Center. Earlier this year, we partnered with CSL and others to offer CNA training classes to give a group of women a pathway out of poverty. Crystal applied for the program, tested off the charts for aptitude in nursing, and was offered a spot in the class. She took a leap of faith, quit her job of 9 years, and committed to 10 weeks of continuing education that would change the course of her life. Crystal is now a Certified Nursing Assistant and I am proud to call her my colleague at TMC Lakewood.
- Dr. Bridget McCandless, CEO Healthcare Foundation of GKC
I’m Dr. Bridget McCandless, CEO for the Healthcare Foundation for Greater Kansas City. Earlier this year, we made a grant to CSL to provide restorative oral care to address a huge problem in our community. So many folks with major dental issues cannot obtain employment especially in the service industries due to appearance. Crystal, at age 22, due to a bone disease, had all of her teeth extracted. Unable to afford implants or dentures, Crystal simply went without for 13 years. I’m pleased to say that Crystal is THE first of CSL’s clients to receive brand new dentures this year! We are thrilled to be involved in supporting her journey to meaningful and lasting change... and helping her get her smile back!
I’m Crystal and you’ve just heard part of the journey that brought me here today. As a single mom of 8, being able to make it from paycheck to paycheck was always a challenge for me. We moved from house to house, barely making it by and experiencing homelessness on several occasions, until we moved into an amazing home in November of last year thanks to CSL. Since then, it has been an incredible year of change for me and my family. I now get to work at a job I love, making great money and having insurance (after 7 years of being without)! I have dentures after being without teeth for 13 years…so many major life changing events for my family all in one year’s time. But it’s more than the financial help I’ve received from CSL, it’s the emotional support as well – it’s being known by name and knowing they’re proud of how far we’ve come! It’s the investments they make not only in me, but in my children (CSL helped my oldest son with the cost of his lifeguard class so he could work, and helped my 14-year old son purchase a lawn mower so he could make extra money during the summer months). CSL is my family. I couldn’t have done all that I’ve done without the support of the CSL staff, those standing up here beside me, and many of you who’ve generously supported CSL this past year. Thank you for supporting my journey!