At $35,000, Hillcrest walk shattered old record

PHOTO GALLERY:  Hillcrest Walk for the Homeless

The 10th Annual Walk for the Homeless shattered all former records, said Cotton Sivils, director of Hillcrest Transitional Housing of Eastern Jackson County.

“We had 251 walkers in this year’s walk and more than $35,000 in pledges,” he said. “Last year, 160 people walked, raising $27,000 in pledges.”

The 3.2 mile walk through the historic Independence Square serves as a fundraiser for the non-profit agency to help in its mission to transition homeless families to self-sufficiency.

Hillcrest provides homeless families with rent and utility-free apartments for 90 days, including food, toiletries and household goods, so families can pay down debts and save for moving expenses. It also offers financial counseling so residents learn how to better manage money. The program has a 95 percent success rate for residents who complete the 90-day program.

Trinity Episcopal Church of Independence donated complimentary hot dogs and buns to feed hungry bipedalists following the May 17 walk. Father Sam Mason, rector at Trinity, and Boy Scout Troop 282, housed at Trinity, cooked the food.

“Hillcrest is a great example of being a reflection of God’s love through reconciliation and forgiveness,” Mason said. “Everyone needs a second chance and this is what reconciliation is all about. Hillcrest does it well.”

Trinity sponsors one of the eight apartments at the Independence site, 401 N. Spring St., and provides clothing from its Mustard Seed Thrift Store and other items needed by residents.

They also have given Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving dinners, and assisted with outstanding utility bills. 

Trinity is but one of the many churches in Independence, Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit and Raytown, who sponsor Hillcrest apartments.

And Hillcrest, through its $1.5 million capital campaign, continues to grow.

“We will triple our capacity to serve more families at a time when more families than ever are needing our services,” Sivils said. “There’s a tsunami of need out there.”

Two new Hillcrest facilities are undergoing renovation, one in Sugar Creek, which houses four apartments, and four, four-plexes in Lee’s Summit, which will provide homes for 13 families. The remaining three units in Lee’s Summit will be used for office and staff needs.

Volunteers have been crucial to these renovation efforts, Sivils said.

“We had 100 volunteers from Comcast help us. We’ve also had 25 teens from Lee’s Summit Community Christ School and 15 churches and service groups volunteer in the last six weeks.”

This has allowed one family to recently move into the only finished apartment at the Sugar Creek complex.

But more work yet needs to be done. And churches are needed to sponsor 13 apartments in Lee’s Summit.

But Sivils is a man of faith.

After all, he says, just last week a man rang the doorbell to drop off a check to Hillcrest for $5,000.

And then there was the man who took the time to change a resident’s flat tire so she could get to work.

For Sivils, God’s answers are provided in large and small ways, and often are only a doorbell or phone call away.