I have often written about the work the Northwest Communities Development Corporation continues to do in western Independence. Hopefully you have heard about our efforts to build and rebuild homes throughout this area.

I have often written about the work the Northwest Communities Development Corporation continues to do in western Independence. Hopefully you have heard about our efforts to build and rebuild homes throughout this area.

We also have programs that include opening a medical clinic that Centerpoint Medical Center operates weekly in the community center. In addition, we have increased our meals program from two to three and now to five days a week and opened the Kids Café for our youth during the summer months. Certainly the list goes on, and more will be added when time and money permit.

Many of you have attended the dinners we have hosted with the proceeds going to our transportation program. The bus – thanks again, Truman Medical Center-Lakewood – is up and running. Some may have also attended our annual gala, which is held each March at the Truman Memorial Building. We have talked about the grants and donations we have received and the continued financial challenges we deal with – that is the life in the not-for-profit world.

Many programs and services we provide probably go unnoticed or run below the radar screen for many, but one recent commitment deserves notice. Through the recent efforts of the NWCDC’s housing program, I think the bar may have been raised.

Under the leadership of our executive director, Bill Rogers, the talent and vision of Howard Penrod, our housing administrator, and an advisory board that does more than just “meet,” the community is changing. Some of the changes include two homes that have been completely rehabbed and sold, eight homes recently constructed (two already sold), and three additional homes in the final stages of a complete rehab.

We provide the lots and the homes for the rehab projects through the gracious generosity and support we receive from Tammy A. Brendel, site manager at the BP facility in Sugar Creek. BP – or, for us old neighborhood folks, the Standard Oil refinery – has been a wonderful corporate partner, and Tammy has led the way in getting these and many other properties donated to NWCDC.

The funding to make the dreams become a reality is provided by the city of Independence with pass-through federal funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Home and Neighborhood Stabilization funds allow the NWCDC to operate the housing program. We are responsible for all aspects of each project from concept to completion. This is certainly a lot of hard work, but there are rewards. Most importantly, we see a neighborhood changing. New residents are coming into western Independence, and their dreams of home ownership are being fulfilled.

 Second, the CDC receives an administration fee for these projects. Some of these funds have helped keep the doors open at the community center, food on the table for our lunch program and other services we provide.

While I am truly proud of what has been accomplished by a group of wonderful people, I really liked it that they “walked the walk.” All the funds could have been taken and used for operational and program costs, but we decided we too need to give back. The NWCDC took $100,000 of its fee from all these projects and reinvested the funds in the neighborhood.

We had some properties where the potential for any rehab was far gone. Additionally the Sugar Creek CDC owned several properties – some actually in Independence – and these were also in need of demolition. Through a joint effort of both CDCs and the city of Sugar Creek, one demolition contract was issued, with cost savings to all the entities.

This is the way government is supposed to work. In the process, we lost the neighborhood eyesores, and we obtained ownership of the Sugar Creek CDC properties in Independence.

 The money would have made life so much easier for the NWCDC (for a little while), but the organization didn’t take the easy road. The decision was made that if we believe in what we are saying – this neighborhood is coming back, it is a good place to live, we won’t stop until the vision is complete, these properties are a wonderful value – then we need to invest in their and our future.

While we may be the largest property owner in western Independence, we see our position as a caretaker of not just this land but the vision of what the area will once again become. This investment says don’t just listen to what we say. It says watch what we do – we are believers in this community.