By the end of 2016, Jewish Family Services will move and expand its Missouri operations. The social service agency, founded in 1901, has signed a long-term lease as the single tenant of a 13,116 square foot, three-story building just west of Holmes Road at 425 E. 63rd Street in Kansas City. The opportunity is structured such that JFS would lease the building for 15 years, and have the option to renew for up to 25 years. The announcement was made by Don Goldman at the agency’s annual Friends of the Family community breakfast and lunch on Wednesday, April 6. This space will replace the current offices the agency has in Missouri and will be located in Brookside East.
“While our Brookside East office will support our outreach to the general community and the overall growth of our programs throughout our community, the office at the Jewish Community Campus will always be home,” said David Kaseff, JFS board president.
JFS has doubled in size in the last seven years from helping 2,500 people to over 6,000 people last year and has outgrown its space at both locations, and there is no room to expand at either. In the past 10 years, JFS’ Missouri office has been relocated twice, growing marginally with each move to accommodate expanding programs and needs. Most recently in 2011, incentivized by a good offer during the recession, the Missouri office relocated into 2,945 square feet of office space at 9233 Ward Parkway.
Launching the Food Pantry in November 2012 involved adding about 1,500 square feet and a new office in the basement level at the Jewish Community Campus and converting 150 square feet at Ward Parkway into a small, satellite pantry. JFS has already outgrown pantry space at its Missouri pantry.
Space for staff is also a problem. While industry standards recommend 200 to 250 square feet per person, JFS’ 30 full and 13 part-time employees currently have about 120 square feet each in the current spaces.
JFS Executive Director and CEO Don Goldman said the new office is necessary to “support the growth of the last seven years, improve our operational efficiency, and move closer to our Jackson county clients.”
“Some people don’t know JFS has almost always had a presence in Missouri for the last 115 years. But for most of the last 25 years, that presence has been secondary to our home at the Campus,” Goldman said. “Brookside used to be the center of the Jewish community back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. So it’s nice to be returning to our roots with a permanent Missouri home where we can be woven into the fabric of the neighborhood.’
“The opportunity in Brookside East is a great one for JFS: It’s a wonderful in-town neighborhood close to our Missouri clients, accessible to volunteers with many local businesses and churches nearby to help support our expanded pantry there.”
JFS is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise $1.4 million to enable the agency to not only afford the lease, but to remodel and occupy the building.
“Our lead funder is the Sosland Foundation and we’ve also had major commitments from the White Family and Irwin and Rita Blitt. Rita Blitt will also donate pieces of her art to be displayed throughout the building. We hope to reach commitments of 75 percent of our funding needs by June,” Goldman explained.
What to expect at Brookside East
JFS’ new office will offer the following:
Sufficient, flexible space for all current programs with room to grow for the future, thus avoiding the disruption of moving every few years.
Appropriate warehouse space with dock doors for deliveries, enabling major expansion of the Food Pantry from 150 to 2,000 square feet, including greatly increased storage.
Opportunity to incorporate features to maximize office efficiency and enhance accessibility for families with young children and disabled and older adults.
Geographic location much closer to where clients who need JFS services live and work, with better bus lines and parking for easier access.
Reasonable proximity to the Kansas office, facilitating seamless coordination.
The Missouri community and clients
Goldman explained that with Brookside and Waldo to the west and Troost to the east, the presence of JFS would contribute to a neighborhood that the Kansas City Star recently described as “showing signs of renaissance, with developers and businesses pumping new life into some down-at-the-heels blocks, updating the link between the popular Brookside shopping area and Troost.”
At the Brookside East location, JFS will have the capacity to initially serve 50 percent more Food and Shelter clients. Demographically, Goldman said JFS expects pantry clientele in East Brookside and the surrounding neighborhoods to be similar to those who are currently served at the Ward Parkway office, which is a very diverse population.
To learn more, visit our website page about our new Brookside location.