BRANCH OF THE VINCENTIAN FAMILY INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Ladies of Charity; Junior Ladies of Charity
NAME OF SYSTEMIC CHANGE PROJECT: Urban Rangers of Kansas City
PROJECT ADDRESS: 5908 Swope Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri 64130-4241
CONTACT PERSON: Father John Wandless
LENGTH OF TIME THE PROJECT/PROGRAM HAS BEEN IN EXISTENCE: 6 years
PROJECT WEBSITE: http://urbanrangercorps.wordpress.com/ (Kansas City)
Purpose: To provide young men in the urban core with a care for their environment and the sense that they are a force in their community that can make an inroad on the poverty around them.
History: Father John Wandless was a pastor of an urban parish with the highest concentration of welfare recipients, the largest group of school age children, and a crime rate ranked in the top 5% in Kansas City, Missouri. He noticed a lack of solidarity between the older residents and the youth in the neighborhood. Feeling that the four factors in moving youth out of poverty were the family, the church, school, and the community he decided to focus on the community aspect. Using his background in the military and participation in the Poverty program established by President Lyndon Johnson he established the first group of rangers in 2004. It consisted of 25 teens and 10 crew leaders. The teens attend an orientation of one week that consists of calisthenics, hiking and training in the use of hand tools. Upon completion of orientation they receive $50 and are accepted into the 8 week summer program. They must also be in good standing in school and have a good attendance record. One block at a time they refurbish houses and clean up the neighborhood environment rebuilding porches, patios and decks, building fences, patching exterior walls, painting, cleaning up yards and cutting down unsightly trees. The teens are provided with uniforms and jackets, appropriate tools, a stipend, Workman’s Compensation and lunch each day. The rangers must get to the office on time each day on their own to continue in the program. Their workday closes with 15 minutes of spiritual reflection.
Vincentian Family Involvement: The Ladies of Charity and the Junior Ladies of Charity have provided lunches to the work crews for 3 years and have contributed funds for the purchase of lawnmowers and cameras. The Juniors and Ladies were contacted by a Lady of Charity who knew of the project and that they needed help. Father Wandless has contributed his own funds for starting the project and is looking for help to continue their work and grow the corps.