Blue Devils hope to end losses at Fort Scott

by Alan Hoskins

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s baseball team took to the road to Fort Scott Monday in hopes of snapping a four-game Jayhawk Conference losing streak.

Neosho County completed a four-game sweep of the Blue Devils Sunday, pounding out a total of 23 hits in 9-2 and 12-6 wins.

The sweep dropped the Blue Devils to 1-5 in the Jayhawk and 4-9 for the season while Neosho improved to 7-1 in league play and 17-3 overall.

KCKCC led twice in the second game, taking a 1-0 lead in the second and going ahead 4-2 in the fifth only to have Neosho score four times in the sixth and six in the seventh in the 12-6 win.

Seven Panther runs came on home runs, 3-run shots by Dylan Christie and Justin Warne and a solo shot by Casey Johnson.

Garrett McKinzie drove in three runs on a pair of singles for the Blue Devils while Christian Arnold rapped his second home run of the season and singled.

Daniel LaMunyon, Sam Baxter, Tanner Foerschler and Mitch Glessner had the other Blue Devil hits. E.J. Merlo worked the first 5.2 innings, giving up six hits and four runs before Neosho e used four hits and two walks to score six times off Eric Hinostroza in the sixth and seventh.

The Panthers grabbed a 3-0 lead in the second inning and added two more runs in both the third and fourth on the way to the 9-2 win behind Casey Quinlan in the opener.

The Blue Devils were limited to just six hits, two by Tanner Foerschler, a double by Daniel LaMunyon and singles by Lucas Norton, Garrett McKinzie and Danny Kralicek, Preston Bailey (1-2) took the loss, giving up five runs in 2.1 innings before Jonathan May finished the 7-inning game.

Homes Within Reach to focus on affordable housing options statewide

Modeled on best practices adopted in other states, Homes Within Reach is being launched across Kansas to help social service agencies and community groups use housing as a primary intervention for persons with mental illness or related disabilities.

Leading partners in this consulting and contracting initiative include Kim Wilson Housing, Kansas City, Kan.; Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, Wichita, Kan.; and Prairie View, Inc., Newton, Kan.

“There is mounting evidence that addressing a person’s most basic needs, such as housing, before providing mental health or substance abuse interventions is a critical and resource-saving first step,” said James Glenn, executive director, Kim Wilson Housing . “HWR’s mission is to help social  service agencies better steward limited resources by making safe, desirable and affordable permanent housing a first step in the recovery process and not a reward to be collected upon psychiatric stabilization or sobriety.”

HWR has three goals in support of its mission:

•         To increase the number of housing options statewide specifically for persons with mental illness or substance use disorders.

•         To leverage resources and share collective expertise.

•         To document successes by collecting accurate qualitative and quantitative data.

Housing affordability gap

Of the 45,500 Kansans with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income in 2012, between 64 to 78 percent of their monthly SSI income of $698, on average, was spent on rent.

“This is far beyond the 30 percent of income affordability rate projected by HUD for rent and utilities,” said Christy McMurphy, KWH director of housing strategies, eastern and central Kansas, who is providing staff support to the new HWR initiative. “This housing affordability gap leaves many people at risk of becoming homeless or without sufficient income for basic necessities like food, transportation or medication,” McMurphy added.

“Having a place to call ‘home’ begins the process of healing and is the cornerstone of recovery,” said Michael Kress, senior director of housing and facilities, Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas. “Homes Within Reach will facilitate our ability to serve as a resource to help other mental health and substance use disorder agencies develop housing strategies based on a unified vision and action plan to advance quality affordable housing.”

Streamlining access to housing

HWR services include:

•         Development of housing strategies and plans for individual or collaborating agencies or a community.

•         Pre-development and development of housing opportunities.

•         Financial tracking, reporting and ensuring compliance with federal regulations.

•         Stakeholder outreach-connection and relationship maintenance.

•         Mediation to prevent evictions.

•         Collective data-outcome tracking and reporting.

“HWR will focus on identifying special housing needs among persons with behavioral health problems and related disabilities throughout Kansas, and then work to streamline their access to existing permanent supportive housing in their communities,” said Brad Schmidt, director of housing, Prairie View Inc.

McMurphy explained that this statewide initiative is a compilation of successful and time-tested campaigns and initiatives across the country.

HWR incorporates “lessons learned” from the following:

•         Tennessee’s Creating Homes Initiative

•         Stand Up to Cancer (shared expertise and business model)

•         Building Tulsa, Building Lives Campaign

•         Corporation for Supportive Housing’s Consulting Network

•         100,000 Homes Campaign

“These models have demonstrated dramatic, continued success even during the recession,” McMurphy said. “With the exception of Stand Up to Cancer, these initiatives have led to a significant reduction of homelessness, unnecessary hospitalizations, criminal behaviors and interactions with law enforcement.  Stand Up to Cancer’s mission is to unite in one unstoppable movement to end all kinds of cancer, and this business structure is what we want to adapt to end homelessness.  We believe our collective efforts through Homes Within Reach can achieve this objective.”

For more information about HWR, contact McMurphy at 913-233-3356 or

– Story from Kim Wilson Housing and Wyandot Inc.

Benefit chili cookoff raised funds for homeless scholarships

Yvonne Bear with team Spice Baby 1 and Travis Renne with team Spice Baby 2 are both members of Metropolitan Lutheran Ministries. They were two of the winners in this year’s benefit chili cookoff competition. (Photo by William Crum)

by William Crum 

A chili cookoff last week raised funds for a scholarship program for the homeless.

The cookoff was held March 6 at the Salvation Army headquarters, 67th and State Avenue, Kansas City, Kan.

Ten teams competed for the honors of best chili. All the proceeds went to help the Milla Massey Scholarship Program, developed to help homeless children in this community.

The scholarship helps the children buy books and other items to further their education.

According to Housing and Urban Development, a person who is homeless does not have a home at all – meaning they do not have a place to go. However, there are unreported homeless people who stay with family and friends and do not have a permanent residence, according to persons who work with the homeless in this community.

Many homeless children in this community are staying with friends or family, without a permanent residence. Some children come to school not knowing where their next meal will come from.

This scholarship program gives them hope, according to its organizers. Even though the scholarship amount is small, it will help pay for some books to help them further their education.

As a judge I had the honor of tasting some of the best chili ever in my culinary career at this contest, making it very hard to select a winner.

Participation was from many areas, including the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools and the Moose Lodge.

Organizers plan to hold this fundraising event again next year.

For more information on how to participate or donate to this program, contact Amy Thomas, coordinator, Wyandotte County Homeless Services Coalition, 701 N. 7th St., Room 823, in Kansas City, Kan. Her telephone number is 913-573-5120 or go to the website,