Regional Report - Shalom House In Kansas City

Jim Willcox, KM and Ted Middendorf, KM serving the residents of Shalom House, Kansas City, KS

Normally, when Jim Willcox, KM, or Ted Middendorf, KM, drop by their local grocery stores, it is to pick up a carton of milk or a dozen eggs. But on a recent trip, they shopped not for themselves and their families, but rather for the residents of the Shalom House in urban Kansas City, Kansas.

The Shalom House, founded in 1988 by Mary Kay Myer as a Catholic Social Worker House, now serves as a volunteering opportunity for Kansas City members of the Order of Malta. On a recent Wednesday night in May, Jim and Ted were joined by current Kansas City Hospitallers Jim Lynch, KM, and Georgia Lynch, DM, to prepare and serve the evening meal. Other members of the Kansas City Chapter regularly volunteer to serve.

Doors of the Shalom House open in the late afternoon. Our members arrive before 6:00 pm to set up, make last minute preparations and socialize with staff and guests. Attendance is taken, and then a prayer of thanks is said before dinner is served around 6:30 pm.

On this May evening, the dinner was lasagna, dinner rolls, tossed salad and soda, with sweets for dessert. The cost of the entire meal was about $100, with the local grocer donating the dessert.

After dinner, the resident guests are responsible for cleaning up the tables and washing dishes. When the chores are done, the guests relax in front of the TV, have access to showers and the opportunity to wash their clothing.

Sadly, founder Mary Kay Myer died of lung cancer in 2008, and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas stepped in to preserve the Shalom House and its mission. In 2012, a professional case management approach was incorporated, helping guests prepare action plans and timelines, with the goal of transitioning away from the support of the shelter. Also in 2012, Sisters from the Fraternity of Missionaries took up residence on the second floor of the Shalom House.

Involvement with the Shalom House is one of many outreach activities supported by the 40 knights and dames in Kansas City. Similar to Shalom House, the Order of Malta’s association with St. James Place represents the same combination of financial support and personal interaction. St James is a food kitchen in Kansas City, Missouri that is run by the Bishop Sullivan Center. Every 5th Friday, our members serve dinner and, once each summer, they contribute to and serve a steak dinner that produces long lines and many happy faces.