Spirit of giving comes to the rescue for homeless, hungry


NourishKC has served more than 1 million hot meals to the homeless and hungry since aligning with the Downtown Community Services Center.

The spirit of giving came to the rescue this holiday season at the Downtown Community Services Center (DSCS).

Thanks to the support of a cadre of corporate and philanthropic partners, the Downtown Council (DTC) and its Community Improvement Districts successfully raised $105,000 and provided in-kind support to make critical repairs and improvements at the DCSC including a failing ADA ramp, thus allowing it to continue functioning and serving those in need.

“In these difficult times for fundraising Burns & McDonnell employee-owners really stepped up to the plate. They not only took ownership of this project, but also helped pull together a wonderful group of big-hearted companies that made the repairs possible,” said Sean O’Byrne, Vice President of the Downtown Council.

Businesses providing both financial and in-kind gifts to help complete the project include: Burns & McDonnell, BHC Rhodes, Copaken Brooks, Epic Concrete Construction, Flynn, ISW Industrial, KH Engineering Group, Kansas City Industrial Steel, Mark One Electrical Company, P1 Group and Rodriguez Mechanical Contractors.

“The Downtown Community Services Center is home to critical organizations serving the homeless and battling hunger in Kansas City,” says Nathan Benjamin, department manager at Burns & McDonnell and Downtown Council member. “It’s exciting to see so many companies from the community come together to make needed repairs to the facility and it’s an honor to be a part of the effort.”

Downtown Community Services Center, 8th & Paseo

The DCSC is the 12-year-old battleship of a building that is dedicated to caring for the homeless and hungry in the greater Downtown area. The DTC created the beloved center in 2008 by raising $1.4 million to rehabilitate an existing building at 8th & Paseo and develop the space and partners to prepare and serve meals, as well as manage and deliver services to people in need.

The DSCS, located in close proximity to overnight emergency shelters, was introduced later that year, when the DTC, NourishKC (formerly Episcopal Community Services), and reStart formed a partnership to serve the homeless population in Downtown Kansas City. Each year, the DTC raises $50,000 to maintain the facility to the highest quality standards.

“The DCSC is the point of entry for homeless persons needing counselors, clothing, nutritious meals and housing referrals,” O’Byrne continued. “In light of the pandemic – even with these services – Downtown Kansas City is experiencing record numbers of homeless on our streets.”

These individuals are generally dual diagnosed, not under proper medical care, O’Byrne explained. They represent the highest volume in ambulance services and emergency care.

Meal time at the DSCS

“We believe a different approach was needed,” O’Byrne said. “A comprehensive approach which combines the best practices of several agencies that provide every service a person would need to get off the streets and reintegrated back into society.”

That realization led to securing the vital services of two essential partners in the work that is performed at the DSCS:

  • NourishKCcelebrating its 10th year of serving hot, nutritious meals to the homeless and hungry. From the DSCS kitchen, Nourish KC has served more than 1 million meals over the last decade, including nearly 150,000 last year.
  • Street Medicine Kansas City – providing direct medical, behavioral and social services to the homeless population via medical screenings, health literacy, prescriptions assistance and self-advocacy via outreach teams.

 “This Center – and the services that are provided there – is always needed … especially during a pandemic,” O’Byrne said. “By serving over 600 meals a day, we are always in need of financial donations to keep the equipment up and running.”