Artist designs programs for homeless in Kansas City
12:37 PM, Dec 15, 2012
1:20 PM, Dec 15, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - As a successful artist in Kansas City, Kar Woo has designed art work for some the city's most affluent families. You can even see his sculptures in the healing gardens at Saint Luke's Hospital. But a few years ago, he walked away from his high profile role in the art world for a life devoted to non-profit work.
"My parents think that I am crazy at this moment," Woo said laughing. "They could not quite understand. I am now in the non-profit world and they couldn't understand what inspired me to work these kind of long hours every day."
Every Sunday, you will find Woo at Mill Creek Park serving food to people who otherwise might go hungry.
"Over the past six years, I just calculated, we served over 60,000 meals. It is a humbling experience because we started with the service with 20 people when we first started," Woo said.
Woo also has a transportation service. He provides rides to people all over town, helping them get to appointments.
"Our average phone calls is like a 100 phone calls per day," Woo said, referring to the number of requests he receives for his services.
In an undisclosed location in downtown Kansas City, Woo's art gallery is now an emergency intervention center. The creative designed space is a home for Kansas City's youth trying to stay off the streets.
"Just like for food, they had to wait in line, everywhere, but we are trying to say hey you do not have to wait in line, this is your spot," Woo said. "When I can tell you I have three kids enrolled in college, a lot of families don't even have one kid enrolled in college, that is a big deal."
All of these programs are part of Woo's non-profit called Artists Helping the Homeless. He created the non-profit after relocating his art studio from Town Center in Leawood to the heart of Kansas City.
Seeing the area's growing homeless population reminded him of the struggles he faced at age 19, when his family immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong.
"It wasn't planned. It wasn't like I said, 'I am going to help the world,'" Woo said. "It was more like this individual needed the help, let's go give them the support, so that is how it started."
From his humble beginnings to established artist, now Kar Woo is a pioneer in the non-profit world changing lives in Kansas City.
Woo's non-profit, Artists Helping the Homeless is always looking for volunteers and support.