In the midst of its centennial year, Drumm Farm Center for Children celebrated a notable expansion Thursday, as well as another one planned for the near future.
Drumm Farm unveiled its new Duvall Campus in southeast Independence, a nine-unit apartment complex near Independence Commons that adds to its COMPASS program for transitional housing.
Brad Smith, Drumm Farm's executive director, also revealed during the ribbon-cutting that Tom and Carman Duvall, the owners of TruckMovers who purchased and donated the land for the apartments and helped fund construction, have recently committed to financing a campus expansion for the next few years.
“It's big, huge,” Smith said of the campus, even without the future plans. “To go from 2012 when we started our COMPASS program, we had for apartments on campus and added two, then we added the five on Crysler and now nine.”
When the Duvalls' next addition is complete, Drumm Farm could have 14 more apartments.
“Stunning amount of growth,” Smith said. “They committed to do that, and we're hoping to start in 2020. They committed to it (Wednesday).”
The COMPASS program offers housing and a support network to help young adults age 17-22, some of who have aged out of the foster care system, with life skills, instruction, development and some supervision to help them start life on their own, including finding a job and car and starting savings.
Smith has called the COMPASS program the “polishing center” to Drumm Farm's main campus being the “triage center” for children in need. The house on Crysler Avenue near the Community of Christ Auditorium opened last year.
Smith and associate director John Tramel both said the niche they serve, unfortunately, is growing.
“It's a population that’s exploding in the Kansas City metro area, and around the country,” Smith said. “There's very little social services focused on them.”
“Some people have not been part of any system, but they're still homeless,” Tramel said. “They're not with their families; they're not connected to a formal system that would identify them.
“We'll have more people in need of this then we can ever support.”
For many young people, he said, having a stable roof over their head is the pivotal difference between a more successful life or continuing to struggle. The new campus includes an another apartment for a residential assistant.
“We make sure everything's smooth, to be a support for them,” Tramel said. “We believe these young people deserve to be safe, comfortable.
Drumm Farm worked with Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity to make sure each 560-square foot apartment is live-in-ready with some furniture, bedding, kitchen supplies and personal items. Each unit will have a couch, bed, two bar stools, coffee table, lamps and other kitchen and bath needs.
Besides the Duvalls (Carman is on the Drumm board of directors), funding came from tax credits purchased by individuals, and a small loan and with help with a grant Mutual of Omaha Bank. To continue help with operations, Drumm Farm has partnered with the Independence Housing Authority for project-based vouchers.
Smith didn't specify how much the Duvalls' future commitment is worth, but suffice to say, “It's life-changing for some people and organization-changing for us.”
“I'm blessed and humbled by it.”
Go to The Examiner's Facebook page for a Facebook Live discussion of the Drumm Farm program.