Kansas City group helps young mother get off drugs, streets

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Since she was seven-years-old, Charmaine Kimble has been around drugs.

"Growing up, I had my share of experiences of drug usages," Kimble said.

Her mother was a drug addict.

When Kimble became a mother herself at age 20, she realized she needed to get away from that life.

"The fact that God blessed me with her was a big deal to me and I refuse to let anything or anyone jeopardize that or bring any harm to her or myself," said Kimble.

With her two-year-old daughter Jer'Chayia, Kimble sought help from Sheffield Place, a non-profit organization located in Kansas City's east side.

"Our mission and our goal is to empower homeless moms and their children to get off the streets, to be productive members of the community," said executive director, Kelly Welch.

Sheffield Place first opened its doors to the women of Kansas City in1991.  Since that time, the home has helped more than 500 women get back on their feet, into a position where they can support their children by giving them a safe place to live, holding down a job and obtaining reliable health care.

"Their goals when they're here are stable housing, improved income or education, being healthy, mental health-wise and physical health-wise," said Welch. "For women who have substance abuse issues, that they're clean and sober."

Currently, Sheffield Place can support 14 women and their young children at the organization's building at 6604 W. 12 th Street in Kansas City, Mo.

These women get their unit, typically with two bedrooms and a bathroom.  Each floor has a shared kitchen for the families to develop a sense of community.

"Once they get here, we have individual therapy that they get to once a week with licensed clinical social workers," Welch said. "We also have groups.  Last year at this time we had three groups, now we have 12 that they can choose from, anything from parenting to children's health to recovery to womens' empowerment."

Most of the women come from a life plagued with domestic violence, mental health issues or substance abuse. 

"A lot of times the family of origin or their community that they're coming from isn't a good situation," Welch pointed out.

That's why it is so important for them to not only seek help through Sheffield Place but to also be willing to cut out the negative influences from their previous lives.

"If you come here, you have to participate in services because otherwise we feel like we're not preparing you to be successful," Welch said.

Kimble had been an active participant for seven months before deciding to move into her own place with another Sheffield Place mother.

"It's a new experience for me," said Kimble. "I'm excited about it."

But she's not finished with the Sheffield Place program.

Last year, the organization added an after-care program, allowing women like Kimble, who secure safe housing, to return for therapy and group sessions to continue their rehabilitation.

"When you leave here, you can still come back for group, you can still see your therapist, you still have case management," Welch said.

Of the women who complete the whole program, the success rate is impressive. 90% will go on to support their family, live on their own and continue their education or get a job.

Kimble is doing both.  She is currently a sophomore at Penn Valley Metropolitan Community College and she has a job working at Truman Medical Center Behavioral Health.

"I still want to be that one in life to make a difference in somebody else's life," said Kimble. "I just have a heart for people."

To learn more about Sheffield Place, its programs and how you can help homeless women in our community, visit: www.sheffieldplace.org/

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