Local women's center restructuring to help women with mental health needs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Rescue Mission opened a Women’s Center in 2013 after conducting three surveys in 2009 and 2010 that confirmed a critical gap in services for single, homeless women. 

"Women calling over and over and over again for shelter," said Julie Larocco, Chief Development Officer with the Kansas City Rescue Mission Women's Center. 

The studies not only showed the need, but they also revealed most single, homeless women suffered from co-occurring disorders such as addiction and mental illness. 

After nearly five years, the KCRM Women’s Center is restructuring its programs. 

"The last four years have been a real growing experience, and we've learned a lot and we've learned that we have a lot to learn," said Larocco. 

Larocco said 100 percent of women at the center have mental health issues. Larocco said past programs were not working well, which led to the restructuring process. 

"We felt that if we could sharpen those areas, then we could offer even more to the women that we're trying to serve," said Larocco.  

The Women's Center developed programs aimed at mental health. Through a new 'Life Plan' book, residents work with a professional counselor on their physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual selves. 

"Each one of the residents determine what their long-term objectives are in each of those categories and they really define that, customize what their dreams, what their hopes, what they're inspired to do and then they determine what are the challenges that keep me from there," said Beth Russell, Interim Program Director with the KCRM Women's Center.

As mental health issues continue to grow, the Women’s Center is taking on new roles and finding new ways to help metro area women in need.

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