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Expanding services: JFS moves Missouri office to larger, easier to access quarters in Brookside

FS opened its new Missouri location in Brookside on in mid-January.

Jewish Family Services (JFS) has moved its Missouri office to 425 E. 63rd St., just east of Oak Street in Kansas City.

JFS occupies the entire 13,000-square-foot space, Executive Director and CEO Don Goldman said. The agency has a 15-year lease with two options for an additional five years each, for a total of 25 years. It also has an option to buy if the owner wants to sell.

“We pay a very low rent since we did all the internal refurbishment,” Goldman said. “The landlord did all the structure, including the roof, windows and foundation.”

The JFS Missouri office was at 9233 Ward Parkway. The organization’s Kansas office remains at 5801 W. 115th St., #103, in Overland Park, a tenant of the Jewish Community Campus.

“We’re very excited to operate out of a new office,” said Goldman. “It gives us a great opportunity to reach out to Kansas City and the general community. The extra space allows us to expand services for everyone.”

JFS moved into the new office on Jan. 13 and opened Jan. 17, Goldman said. About 25 full- and part-time staffers will be based in the new office. The number of staffers at the Campus office, which is less than half the size of the new Missouri space, fluctuates between 15 and 20.  There is currently no space available at the Campus to grow there.

In addition to JFS staff, Molly Hess, the Jewish community connector, also has an office at JFS’ new location (she has one at the Campus as well). She started working in the Jewish community last September, charged with helping young Jewish adults in the Kansas City area connect with the community, and with other Jews.

One of the biggest benefits to the new Missouri location, Goldman said, is the size of the Missouri JFS Food Pantry. That pantry’s storage area is now more than double the size of the Kansas food pantry’s storage area and replaces off-site storage. The two food pantries’ grocery areas, where people shop, are about the same size.

JFS serves more than 250 families a month, he said. It serves about one-third of them from its Missouri office and the remaining two-thirds from its Kansas office. He expects the number of families served from the Missouri office to increase because of the increased need and its ability to handle the increase. The Kansas food pantry also can grow to serve more families each month so that over time, JFS could serve twice as many families in need.

Separately from the move to the new Missouri office, JFS moved its Kansas food pantry to larger space at its Campus location to accommodate an expansion of the J’s Crossfit space. 

In order to make the move to Brookside, JFS needed to raise $1.7 million. Goldman said the agency has reached this goal in a campaign spearheaded by Goldman, Sandi Fried and Rachel Krantz.

The money was used for remodeling, equipment, computers and furniture, and for a term endowment of 10 to 12 years to pay for repairs and other expenses as needed. None of the money will go toward operating expenses.

David Kaseff, board president for JFS, said that its larger presence in Missouri helps the agency better help the Kansas City area’s Jewish community and the community as a whole.

“That fits Jewish values to do so,” said Kaseff. “The other space was smaller. We felt this provided a better access point for them and the opportunity to do what we do well for more people. 

Kaseff said that in his role as board president, he was focused on helping keep JFS sustainable.

“Execution is not always easy,” he said. “My term as president ends at the end of September. I’ll be on the board another two years, and then my time is over and it’s on to the next person to keep it going.” 

JFS was founded in 1901 as United Jewish Charities on the Jewish value of tikkun olam, which from Hebrew translates “repair of the world.”  

JFS serves more than 7,000 people a year, more than half of whom are not Jewish, by providing food, shelter and employment, older-adult services, mental health services, family life education and chaplaincy.

Kaseff said the new Missouri office will also help the staff to expand their ability to help others.

“It’s been a lot of hard work to oversee this project,” he said. “I think it’s creating a nice excitement for the agency as a whole and a force for positive change.”

Brenda Althouse, director of marketing for JFS, said the organization is in the process of planning an open house for the new Missouri office. It’s scheduled to take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26. 

No formal program will be offered at the open house, but JFS staffers will be available to give tours of the new office. JFS will send email invitations to its supporters and volunteers. 

“Anyone from the community or neighborhood is welcome to come by,” she said.