The Kitchen, Inc. Board of Trustees Responds to Springfield News-Leader Article on the Rare Breed Youth Outreach Center

This letter to the editor is in response to the Springfield News-Leader article published December 14, 2018: “Case managers resign, coordinator gone. What’s going on at The Rare Breed?”

We, the members of the Board of Trustees of The Kitchen, Inc. want to answer the question asked in the article’s headline and communicate clearly with the community, which has been so supportive for many years, our exciting plans to more effectively serve homeless youth who participate in our youth services programs.

A few people may misunderstand the focus at The Kitchen and while they are free to express their opinion, we on The Kitchen Board of Trustees are committed to making the hard decisions that will better serve the homeless of our community in the long term. We take our fiduciary responsibility to the homeless of our community very seriously.  We are going to make sure The Kitchen doesn’t just take the easy route of doing what it has always done, but as a nationally accredited agency, we will be constantly revising and improving the effectiveness of our programs in service of our mission. This is the commitment of The Kitchen and our promise and you can hold us to it.

The Kitchen provides a comprehensive set of services based on the “housing first” model.  After first addressing the immediate housing needs of our clients, we then deliver extensive case management services designed to provide the client his or her best opportunity for a successful transition to independent living. So far in 2018, the Community Housing, Shelter, Home at Last (Veterans), Low Income Affordable Housing and Rare Breed programs of The Kitchen have successfully housed 577 people with a 78% success rate of clients remaining stably housed after exiting The Kitchen’s programs.

The Rare Breed program of The Kitchen historically used a “drop-in center” model, paired with transitional housing. Today, The Kitchen has graduated from simply being a provider of food and clothing to at-risk youth and is focused on empowering them to make changes in their life to stop the cycle of homelessness.  

To clarify any confusion, the Rare Breed location (301 N. Main) is open 11 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday for support  services, 3 pm to 5 pm for snacks and dinner and accepts donations 9 am to 5 pm. Until new youth services case managers have been hired and trained, the current 17 youths in our housing program have been re-assigned among five of our existing 11 case

managers. In addition, to maintain the current hours of service, the six members of The Kitchen leadership team will be working overtime to make sure our client’s needs are being met. Anyone interested in volunteering during this time should complete the volunteer application and provide a background check at https://www.thekitcheninc.org/volunteer/.

At The Kitchen, our core values of Respect, Dignity, Quality, Service and Compassion require that we do more for our clients than merely meeting their immediate needs. We know that requires a different approach, an approach using evidence-based social science, which has been proven to work by other providers nationwide. It requires a program focused more on helping these youth change their lives and less on sticking a temporary Band-Aid on their situation. These youth need housing and the stability it brings more than blankets; they deserve an educational or vocational training plan to support independent living, not merely a place to “drop-in.”

The Board of Trustees of The Kitchen, Inc.

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