KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City nonprofit is mourning the loss of its creator.
Rafael Hines passed away New Year's Eve due to complications from COVID-19.
Hines is responsible for changing the lives of thousands of people in the Kansas City area and leaves behind a community of young people determined to carry out his mission.
Hines created Success Link Outreach KC, a 501 (c)(3) that employs young people who put together meals to take to underserved parts of the city.
For 20-year-old Clarence Johnson IV, it's a job he loves.
"The most fun part about working here is just seeing the impact directly from the process of putting together the meals, straight out to when you are knocking on the door and asking if they need kids meals," Johnson said.
Johnson is one of the young people who have been mentored and shown love by Hines over the years.
"Whether somebody needed a little gas in their tank, needed something to eat, lunch, he was always there," Johnson said.
Johnson said Hines was like a father many of the young people never had. However, now they have to live in a world without him.
Hines' brother, Daniel Felder, said Hines always kept his mind on his mission of serving youth and the community.
"This world is now void of a giant, someone who was deliberate, someone who was intentional about serving," Felder said.
Felder said Hines was paraplegic and even though he was pro-vaccine, he never received it because he was told a pre-existing condition may cause conflict.
Even knowing he was more vulnerable, Felder said his brother never lost sight of his mission.
"He continued to insert himself into high-risk areas, places that it was possible to contract COVID-19 because he still wanted to carry out the mission, he still wanted to do the work," Felder said.
Even in their time of grief, the youth at Success Link Outreach will continue showing up every day to honor the memory of Hines and carry out his mission.
"It means a lot knowing that there are people on earth still that care that much about the things that people need and just the little things to make you feel loved," Johnson said. "He's gone, but we really don't have an excuse to stop you know because he gave us that example not to."
There is a GoFundMe page to help members of Hines' family with expenses.