Last year, Community Services League volunteers gave 27,000 hours of service. This week, the agency has been thanking them and others who have supported it in its century of serving those in need.

“It’s not about CSL …” said President and CEO Doug Cowan. “It’s about the generations of people who have cared enough to steward and carry this organization forward.”

Cowan spoke Thursday, the group’s 100th anniversary, at an open house at the central office on Noland Road. Founded as the Community Welfare League, today’s Community Services League has four sites in Independence as well as sites in Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Buckner and Oak Grove. An open house at the site in downtown Blue Springs, 200 S.W. Tenth St., is set for noon to 2 p.m. today.

Bess Truman was one of the 22 local women who founded the group, and she stayed active with it until the time she and Harry moved into the White House in 1945. Cowan noted that as the group has grown and changed over the years, its main office has generally been on or near the Independence Square.

“How appropriate that here we are, a hundred years later, still on the Square …” he said.

Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said Cowan has been an effective leader.

“Things don’t survive for 100 years without great leadership,” she said.

She presented a proclamation, as did state Reps. Bill E. Kidd and Rory Rowland, both of Independence. The group’s programs include food shelves, utility assistance, financial literacy, computer skills training, work readiness and even a new job-training program, and Rowland said its services reach one out of nine Independence residents.

“What an impact it makes,” he said.

Kidd praised the work of volunteers and, joking, said he was going to be a typical politician and ask for money. But it wasn’t for himself. He called on the community to give the group financial and volunteer help.

“All of this can be handled if we get together and do things,” he said.