In the heart of Kansas City, Missouri exists a wonderful place where underprivileged men, women and children can find food, shelter, support and the love of Jesus Christ. This place is City Union Mission—an evangelical Christian ministry committed to sharing the gospel and meeting the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of the poor and homeless.

City Union Mission’s church relations specialist, Dennis Ellis, witnesses first-hand the miraculous transformations of lives of individuals and families participating in the organization’s long-term recovery programs.

Learn more about City Union Mission

“There are many reasons why people come to City Union Mission,” said Ellis. “For example, men often come to us seeking help for drug or alcohol addiction. It’s amazing to see the end results of lives changed through the love of Jesus Christ.”

Since 1924, the purpose of City Union Mission has been to help people restore hope, direction and health. Shawnee Mission Health is helping them achieve this goal by volunteering time to prepare and serve meals to approximately 60 men in the Long-Term Men’s Group.

SMH’s administrative coordinator for Behavioral Health, Linda Batsch, leads the effort for SMH by recruiting departments to give their time to provide meals every third Sunday.

“I never tire of watching the men enjoy the meals,” said Batsch. “They know the meals come from the hearts of the volunteers who prepare and serve, and they are always so appreciative.”

Many SMH departments participate in the program, but associates from Behavioral Health, Spiritual Wellness, Radiology, Pre-Surgery Clinic and the Lab volunteer on a regular basis. According to Batsch, associates find the experience to be very rewarding. They not only prepare and serve the meals, but many associates eat and share fellowship with the program participants.

“It’s a great feeling to give back in this way,” said Batsch. “You get to see very tangible results.”

The partnership is a win-win for everyone involved, not just the volunteers. Assistance from organizations such as SMH help City Union Mission offset expenses and show the men involved in the program that people care about their well-being.

“Shawnee Mission Health associates come here with big smiles and encouraging words,” said Ellis. “These men will remember the thoughtfulness of the volunteers for many years after graduating from the program.”

Together, City Union Mission and SMH are making a difference in the lives of many. SMH served its first meal at City Union Mission in May 2013 and has plans to continue its commitment far into the future.

Jackie Woods writes for Shawnee Mission Health.