Discovering Purpose in Fatherhood

New Imani House program, Father Focus, Guides Men to Becoming Better Fathers

Father Focus is a new six-week peer counseling program at Imani House, designed to help men build better relationships with their children. The current program has about 20 participants and celebrated its first graduation on June 1.

The Father Focus program combines an evidence-based curriculum with group discussion and counseling, said Frederick Wilson, Peer Specialist for Substance Use Disorders. Wilson, who launched the empowerment program, is also a pastor, a Child Protective Services worker, Certified Associate Alcohol & Drug Counselor II, and a Medication-Assisted Recovery Specialist.

Wilson uses his many professional certifications and training in the Father Focus program, but he also draws upon his life experiences, including 23 years in prison for 53 felonies to address a need: men fulfilling their roles as fathers.  “The greatest epidemic is not AIDs, racism or opioids,” he said, “but absentee fathers. What are we doing to address this?”

The first graduating class of Father Focus at Imani House.

One of the core goals of the program is teaching men new skills.

“I want these men to pay attention to what’s inside,” he said. “You’ve got to learn to love yourself, see yourself as valuable.”  Wilson notes that the men in the program, all from Imani House, face daily challenges of addictive behavior and varying experiences of trauma.

Wilson is a role model for the men, speaking openly about his personal experiences – the stubbornness, tough-guy bluster and violence that led him to jail. “I wouldn’t quit,” he said. He points to a mug shot on his office door – a smiling closeup, full of bravado, with the caption “Eastern Reception – Bonne Terre, Missouri #535364” and the date 04/26/13. Just above the mug shot, however, is a more recent photo of Wilson – again smiling, but this with kindness and sparking eyes, and wearing a tuxedo.

He uses the photos in talking with the Father Focus participants. The photos show the juxtaposition of the times of Wilson’s life, and his evolution to man of faith, integrity, and wisdom. He explains how an FHA home loan application rejection gave him cause to celebrate, for it told him why the application was rejected and he clearly saw what he needed to do to get an approval.

He looks for life lessons in every encounter, and he shares his personal story to illustrate the power of believing in yourself. It resonates with the men in the program, who know they can share anything with him, know they can trust him as he helps them identify destructive patterns in their lives.

Ron Carr, a graduate of the Father Focus program

Ron Carr is a Kansas City native with more than 20 years’ experience in a high-stress corporate role, which produced cycles of addiction and depression.

“Throughout my addiction, I was not a communicative father,” said Carr, a member of the Father Focus inaugural graduating class. “I did child support, but I got away from communicating with my two daughters.”

He credits Wilson with helping him change his mindset, with deep engagement and trust. “Frederick was the first person here I met. He saw something in me.”

Wilson uses his stories and guides the men in the Father Focus program. “We talk and give therapy to each other,” Carr said. “He taught us to be open.”

Taking the program to heart, Carr decided to lead by example. He asked to spend Thanksgiving with his family, two daughters, age 34 and 33, and their children. He asked them to talk, to really unload how they felt about him, and he promised to listen.

“It took a man to sit there,” he said. “It was hard, and we all shed tears.”

Carr said he wanted to show that he is willing to change to be a part of their lives. And his life has changed since then, he said.

The bonds of trust are building, he said, noting with some surprise that now his daughters call him and he receives texts and photos from the grandkids. “These are grown women who will call me to talk about issues and problems, and I’m there to receive. I’m totally involved.”

He continued: “This program taught me to be the person I wanted to be with my children.”

Joe Vesper Owen III, a graduate of the Father Focus program

Joe Vesper Owen III is another member of the inaugural Father Focus graduating class who’s building a new chapter with his family.

“It completely changed the way I talk to them, the way I treat them, the way I react to them,” he said about his grandchildren. Owen said he never had much presence in the lives of his children and saw that his three grandchildren now faced the same situation without fathers being present.

Father Focus taught Owen how to play with and talk with his three grandsons, ages 7, 4 and 3. “I never knew how negative swear words can be on growing minds,” he said, noting that he is breaking habits of cursing, like threatening a “whupping.” He slipped once, with the youngest and apologized, asking the little one to help him change.  The child responded with love.

“I am so very grateful for what this program has taught me. I’m able to break the cycle,” he said. “My grandchildren — they are my purpose.”

Owen, who lives in Oak Grove, credits Imani House with helping him gain his self-respect and a new attitude. “I am a different person, inside and out. I am learning who I am, and my gratitude is immeasurable.”

Frederick Wilson holds his award for “Professional of the Year” from First Call, a non-profit agency that provides clinical, educational, and prevention services to individuals impacted by substance abuse disorder.

Swope Health Imani House, 3950 E. 51st St., Kansas City, offers adult substance abuse treatment programs for Missouri residents 18 and older. The Imani House provides pre-admission assessments for substance abuse, behavioral risks for HIV, TB, mental health issues, and non-emergency medical conditions.

Imani House clients receive services including counseling and case management, medication-assisted treatment, and a wide range of social service programs and referrals to help break the cycle of addiction. These additional programs include continuing recovery support services to assist with child-support payment issues, job placement, transportation, housing, and individual needs.  

For more information about Imani House or the Father Focus program, call (816) 599-5960.

Swope Health presents a Health Equity Town Hall, June 15

Swope Health invites you to join us for the second event in our Social Drivers Series, a Health Equity Town Hall, Thursday, June 15, at the Kansas City Public Library, Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., Kansas City.

The event begins with a reception at 5 pm, followed by the discussion starting at 6 pm in the Truman Forum Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines social drivers of health as the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.

These factors are broadly categorized as:

  • Economic policies and systems, impacting economic inclusion and stability
  • Education and access to education
  • Access to healthcare and quality of healthcare
  • Housing and the built environment, including access to clean water, green space, healthy food
  • Social justice policies, political systems, racism

This discussion brings together an expert panel to address Kansas City’s record in healthcare access and examine current data on disparities in healthcare among people of color vs white individuals, and to examine policies and initiatives to drive change. The discussion will be moderated by Ruth Ramsey, publisher and editor in chief of Our Health Matters, a Kansas City-based magazine offering health and wellness guidance for more than 18 years.

Panelists are:

Jeron Ravin, J.D., president and CEO of Swope Health, the voice of community health in Kansas City. Swope Health annually serves more than 44,000 patients at 16 centers throughout the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Ravin is an advocate for health equity and works with federal, state and local leaders to advance policies for a more just and equitable society. He also serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Community Health Centers, Missouri Primary Care Association, Research Medical Center, KC Civic Council and many other professional associations and charitable organizations.

Sharla A. Smith, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor of population health in the School of Medicine. Dr. Smith is a health services and systems researcher whose primary research is maternal and infant health disparities, women cancer disparities, and community engagement. She is the co-founder of Kansas Sisters and Brothers for Healthy Infants and the founder of the Kansas Birth Equity Network. Dr. Smith is passionate about developing a culture of birth equity through community engagement, empowerment, and education.

Carla Gibson, vice president of programs for REACH Healthcare Foundation, is responsible for developing strategic community investments designed to implement REACH’s mission of advancing health equity in its six-county service area. Gibson joined REACH in 2006 and has led the foundation’s health equity investments. Gibson also is an appointed member of the National Rural Health Association’s Health Equity Council, the Women’s Executive Leadership Council of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and a steering committee member of the Missouri Council on Aging.

Michael Wells is senior special collections librarian for the Kansas City Public Library’s Missouri Valley Collection. As a local history and genealogy research specialist, Wells has written extensively about Kansas City’s segregated past, including topics of redlining, jazz in Kansas City, civil rights, urban renewal,  healthcare access and more.

Please plan on joining us for this candid Town Hall discussion reviewing Kansas City’s access to healthcare, with a focus on history, current state, and work to bring about healthcare equity to all in Kansas City.


Best Seat in the House: Three Lessons from the South Lawn

Editor’s note: the following post was written by guest blogger Bridget Locke, Director of Strategic Communications, Swope Health

It was predicted to be epic, and it lived up to the hype.

The 2023 NFL Draft, hosted in Kansas City, brought in 312,000 attendees over three days, and the energy was palpable from the very beginning. Attendees donned their favorite jerseys and colorful outfits, tossed footballs, played organized games, danced to upbeat deejay sets, and cheered wildly as their favorite teams selected new players for their rosters.

Swope Health’s role, providing free COVID-19 vaccines in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ We Can Do This Public Education Campaign, wouldn’t be the lead story, and we readily accepted it. After all, the draft is about the promise and tenacity of the NFL hopefuls who are dressed in their finest attire, surrounded by friends and family, hoping to hear the announcement that will change their lives. From the main stage of the draft, there were plenty of inspiring stories to be told.

Still, the stories shared under our volunteer tent were inspiring, too.

Swope Health administered the vaccine to almost 150 people who hailed from ten different states and nearly every walk of life: Men. Women. Couples. Friends. Parents and children. Grandparents and grandchildren. Executives. College students. Retirees. Every interaction was unique and meaningful. Some stopped by to ask questions; others sat in our chairs and rolled up their sleeves to ensure they were up-to-date on COVID-19 protection. At least three people received COVID-19 vaccines for the very first time.

While our very efficient clinical team handled the important assignment of administering the vaccine, I stood at the other station under our tent, handing out literature and swag bags to a very steady stream of visitors. People recognized Swope Health. Many stopped to say hello and tell us they know someone who is Swope Health-affiliated, either as a patient, or as a current or former associate.

Volunteering at the 2023 NFL Draft taught me three important lessons:

Mission-supporting activities create powerful team-building moments.
Though I’d never take anything away from team-building experiences that are unrelated to work, bonding over the services you provide is really fulfilling. Each volunteer team worked hard, laughed out loud and knew their role in bringing people to the booth and serving them well once they arrived. I can’t help but feel as though I’ve made new Swope Health friends through volunteering at the NFL Draft Experience and am eager to see how those interactions will enhance my workplace experience.

Challenge your assumptions.
Although we prepared ourselves for scores of visitors, I wasn’t sure how many we’d serve, given the celebratory nature of the event and the reality of COVID-19 fatigue. To my (pleasant!) surprise, there remains a steady stream of people who want to ensure they remain protected against the virus. Lesson for me: Embrace the possibility that people can still surprise you for the better. Because of the devastation that COVID-19 has caused around the world, I felt encouraged to see people remaining vigilant in staying protected against it, even in the midst of a three-day celebration.

Swope Health is a great place to work, and it starts with the people.
It was truly an honor for Swope Health to be the only locally-based non-profit invited to participate in the NFL Draft Experience. I see that as a testament to our reputation in the Kansas City community. Behind Swope Health’s mission, which is purposeful and powerful, there are devoted professionals who come in early, stay late, sacrifice rest and free time, and juggle multiple projects and priorities to achieve the ultimate goal: serving patients and the community. Preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft elevated the true dedication of Swope Health’s people. I witnessed it from the best seat in the house: our volunteer table on the south lawn of the WWI Museum and Memorial. And now, I know in my soul that the effort of our associates is what makes us stand out.

In that spirit, I’d like to personally thank the following associates for making Swope Health’s participation in the draft so successful.
• Tekisha Edwards
• Andrea Franco
• Kenyea Frazier
• Alina Gargesh
• Antonette Gatewood
• Daniel Gilmore
• Emily Glen
• Angela Hawkins
• Bobby Jackson
• Dr. Naiomi Jamal
• Norvel King
• Renee Loenen
• Rachel Melson
• DaRon McGee
• Josette Mitchell
• Christopher Monroe
• John Morris
• Yuzi Mussa
• Stephanie Nickell
• Grace Okonta
• Samantha Pierre
• Jeron Ravin, JD
• Tamika Reliford
• Shannon Robertson
• Alejandra Rodela Salcedo
• Dr. Kenneth Thomas
• Debra Simpson
• Helston Singleton
• Angela Smart
• Tyson Sullivan
• Melanie Traynham
• Shaquwanda Walker
• Wendy White
• Kim Wood
• Raytosha Wright


Swope Health to Provide COVID-19 Vaccine at 2023 NFL Draft

Swope Health, in partnership with the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) We Can Do This COVID-19 Public Education Campaign, will provide free COVID-19 vaccinations on Thursday, April 27, through Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Mo.


Swope Health’s medical mobile unit will be located on the south lawn of the National WWI Museum and Memorial (2 Memorial Drive, KCMO), and clinical staff will be onsite all three days to administer the COVID-19 bivalent booster to interested attendees, age 12 and above.


According to HHS, more than three-quarters of American adults and two-thirds of all Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19.


With 300,000 people predicted to attend the NFL Draft in Kansas City, Swope Health’s mobile medical unit offers a unique opportunity to help a large national crowd of people to ensure they stay current with recommended COVID-19 vaccine protection.


“The COVID-19 vaccine enables us to keep infection rates low, prevent the transmission of the virus, and protect the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Naiomi Jamal, M.D., M.P.H., C.M.Q., Chief Health Officer of Swope Health.

“It also allows us the chance to have in-person community events, such as the one we’re eagerly anticipating in Kansas City,” she said. “We are excited to take part in this historic moment, while serving the public in the ongoing effort to keep everyone safe against the virus.”


This vaccination effort is brought to the NFL Draft as part of HHS’ We Can Do This COVID-19 Public Education Campaign, which is a national initiative to increase public confidence in and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

Learn more about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Swope Health supports Minority Health Month

Every April is National Minority Health Month, as proclaimed by the federal government’s Health and Human Services agency.  The recognition is designed to highlight the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minorities, and to focus on combatting health injustices.

Swope Health works to address health injustices daily, actively breaking down barriers to healthcare. Swope Health is an advocate for quality healthcare for all.

The theme for this year’s celebration is Better Health Through Better Understanding.

This celebration has its roots with Booker T. Washington, educator, civil rights advocate and author, who called for a National Negro Health Week in 1915. His campaign to bring awareness to health disparities lasted until 1951.

The federal government in 2002 launched the current designation of National Minority Health Month,  to promote “educational efforts on the health problems currently facing minorities and other health disparity populations.”

Today, the National Institutes of Health’s Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities works to lead scientific research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

Why a national focus? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes a growing body of evidence that racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher rates of illness and death across a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their White counterparts.

The life expectancy of non-Hispanic/Black Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans. Additionally, in the COVID-19 pandemic, research showed members of racial and ethnic minority groups had higher rates of COVID-19 and more severe cases than White populations. These disproportionate impacts are examples of health disparities.

These disparities are preventable.

What’s the cause? According to the NIH, “Achieving health equity for all in the U.S. will require dismantling this country’s historical legacy of structural racism.”

The CDC offers a suggestion: “Communities can prevent health disparities when community- and faith-based organizations, employers, healthcare systems and providers, public health agencies, and policymakers work together to develop policies, programs, and systems based on a health equity framework and community needs.”

This is why Swope Health works to address social drivers of healthcare. Some examples of our work:

  • Removing barriers to care for children, with clinics in schools and community centers
  • A wide range of behavioral health services, counseling, therapy, medication-assisted treatment, coping skills and more
  • Health insurance marketplace and Medicaid enrollments
  • Providing transportation
  • Offering residential services
  • Culturally proficient nutrition counseling, meal-planning and education
  • Health Equity focused innovative diabetes management with nurse-care managers to support patients and reduce health disparities in diabetes care
  • Food and family essential giveaways
  • Hosting educational programs, podcasts and community town hall events
  • Speeding access to pharmacy services, including a drive-through option
  • Homeless outreach program
  • Training opportunities for multiple health care delivery roles in our environment as a federally qualified health center (FQHC)
  • And much more.

For examples beyond the healthcare and related services, Swope Health advocates with legislators and policy makers, civic organizations, non-profits, and others in healthcare and community services to build collaborative impact. For instance, Swope Health participates in the Health Equity Task Force, the Health Equity Learning Action Network, committees with the Public Health department and state agencies and more. Our work touches education, policy development, funding, training and more, all in addition to our daily work in our clinics and the community.

Swope Health is working toward a day when race, ethnicity, income, or ZIP code do not determine your health status.

For more information on Minority Health Month, explore:


Treat Town Returns! Join us on Oct. 29

The Swope Health annual trick-or-treat event will once again move outdoors with a drive-through version of Treat Town.

This is our 27th year of Treat Town, a special Halloween trick-or-treat event for kids. Like we have done the last two years, this event is modified to accommodate COVID-19 precautions.

Participants will drive through a large and spooky tent in the parking lot at Swope Health Central from 6 to 8 pm Saturday, Oct. 29.


All cars will enter the Swope Health Central main entrance, 3801 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, to participate. Cars should approach Swope Health Central from Cleveland Avenue and turn east onto Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

From the safety of your vehicle, you will be guided to tent where we (along with assorted ghouls, superheroes and other creatures) will provide treat bags for children under age 12.

We encourage all participants to wear a face mask to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Everyone stays in the car with just a quick stop to gather your treats! (No walk ups, please.)

Costumes welcome!


Join us at American Public Square Aug. 17

Addressing Gun Violence in Public Spaces

Swope Health President and CEO Jeron Ravin JD will be part of a panel sponsored by American Public Square at Jewell on “Addressing Gun Violence in Public Spaces.”

The event is 6 -7:30 pm Wednesday. Aug. 17, in person at the Johnson County Central Resource Library, Carmack Room, 9875 W. 87th St., Overland Park, KS 66212, and available via livestream.

The event is free and open to the public. Register to receive the information to attend virtually or to reserve a spot.

American Public Square notes: Most citizens deplore the mass gun violence that is currently plaguing our nation. However, Second Amendment advocates fear their rights could be limited if laws addressing guns are changed.  As this standoff continues, death tolls are increasing and anxiety levels continue to rise for citizens of all ages when in public spaces such as schools, houses of worship, retail stores and other public venues.

What is the answer when it comes to mitigating gun violence in America?   The panel will discuss ideas for the community to address gun violence in public spaces.

The event will be moderated by: McClain Bryant Macklin, director of policy and strategic initiatives – Health Forward Foundation

The panelists:

  • Caleb Daniels, marketing coordinator – Frontier Justice. Caleb Daniels is currently the Marketing Coordinator at Frontier Justice, the premier range/retailer in the Midwest, and has worked in the firearms industry for the past seven years. He is a 2020 graduate of Truman State University, with a major in Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing.



  • Adam Hamilton, senior pastor – The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. Rev. Adam Hamilton is the founding pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Hamilton was named one of the “Ten people to watch in America’s spiritual landscape” by Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. For his efforts in Kansas City, he has been recognized with the first Founder’s Civility Award by American Public Square at Jewell in 2020.  He’s received numerous other awards for community service. Hamilton launched Church of the Resurrection with his wife and two children in 1990. It has since grown to over 22,000 adults and children under his leadership. Today the church is the largest United Methodist Church in the United States and has five locations throughout the Kansas City area.

  • State Rep. Jo Ella Hoye and volunteer for Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety. Jo Ella Hoye represents the 17th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. She is a stay-at-home-mom and committed public servant. She’s held various local government management positions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors; most recently as a Senior Analyst in the Johnson County Manager’s Office. Jo Ella volunteered for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America for over three and a half years, including as Kansas Chapter Leader. That strategic team moved the needle on gun safety in Kansas with bipartisan support. Jo Ella’s continued presence at the Statehouse influenced the passage of sensible gun legislation, earning her the nomination by Everytown for Gun Safety for the 2018 Professional Women in Advocacy Excellence in Advocacy of a State Issue Campaign Award. Jo Ella is involved with the Shawnee Mission School District’s My Volunteer Pal program, she served three years as Vice President for Ways and Means of the Rising Star Elementary PTA, and served two terms on the Lenexa Planning Commission.

  • Clarke Prophete, journalism student – University of Missouri-Columbia and graduate of The Barstow School. Clarke Prophete is an upcoming sophomore at the University of Missouri – Columbia where she is studying journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications and psychology. She has received two awards for division one oratorical speaking during her time in Jack and Jill of America, as well as serving as president. More recently, she has added “member of The National Association of Black Journalists at Mizzou” to her resume.



  • Jeron Ravin, JD, president and CEO – Swope Health. Jeron Ravin is a healthcare leader who has worked on behalf of Community Health Centers for the greater part of a decade to expand access and improve health outcomes. As President and CEO, Jeron Ravin leads strategic direction for Swope Health, the leading provider of healthcare for underserved individuals and communities in Kansas City, Missouri. Swope Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), has provided comprehensive primary care and behavioral health services for more than 50 years. Jeron previously served as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the Community Health Center Association of Mississippi (CHCAMS). CHCAMS is comprised of 21 FQHC’s, working together to increase health access by providing affordable, quality, comprehensive healthcare in Mississippi. As the COO, Jeron facilitated the strengthening of Mississippi community health centers by overseeing programmatic functions including Policy, Marketing & Branding, Workforce Development, Clinical Quality Improvement, Outreach and Enrollment, Health Information Technology, Training & Technical Assistance, and led operations for the Primary Care Coalition of Mississippi, a CHCAMS subsidiary Independent Practice Association. In addition to his experience in healthcare leadership, Jeron serves on several boards including Alphapointe, BLAQUE Kansas City (Chairman), the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, Full Employment Council – Workforce Development Board (Kansas City & Vicinity), Kansas City Public Schools Education Foundation, National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), and University Academy. He is a member of Kansas City Tomorrow (42nd Class) and the Missouri Primary Care Association and is a Fellow of the Latino Center for Leadership Development (LCLD). In May of 2021, Jeron was recognized by Ingram’s Magazine as a member of its select class of “40 Under Forty”.



Federal Agencies Recognize Swope Health for COVID-19 Efforts

On Monday, March 28, the regional leadership of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recognized Swope Health for its efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Your health center built new, non-traditional partnerships and implemented innovative strategies to reach the most vulnerable populations and ensure their access to COVID-19 prevention, vaccination, and treatment services,” said Nancy Rios, Regional Administrator of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, for the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Kansas City regional office.

Dr. Naiomi Jamal, Chief Health Officer, and Robin Wheeler Sanders, Chief People Officer, were on hand at the recognition ceremony at the Mid-America Regional Council’s offices in Kansas City. They accepted a citation, signed by Rios, on behalf of Swope Health.

In addition to Swope Health, the federal agencies included other regional Federally Qualified Health Centers, Public Housing Authorities and community partners in the recognition: the Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority; the Housing Authority of the City of Kansas City, Missouri; Health Partnership Health Center; KC CARE Health Center; Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center;  and Vibrant Health Center.

COVID-19 Event Attendees (From left: Patrick Salle, CEO Vibrant Health; Will Franklin, CEO, KC CARE; Dr. Naiomi Jamal, Chief Health Officer; Swope Health; Robin Wheeler-Sanders (rear), Chief People Officer, Swope Health; Adria Edwards, Director of Special Projects, KC CARE; Catherine Wiley, Director of Marketing and Communications, Samuel Rodgers; Bob Theis, CEO, Samuel Rodgers; Amy Falk, CEO, Health Partnership, Nancy Rios, Regional Administrator, HRSA Region 7; Catherine Satterwhite (rear), Regional Health Administrator, HHS Region 7; Andrea Perdomo-Morales, Chief Health Equity Officer, Vibrant Health; Ed Lowndes, Executive Director, Housing Authority Kansas City, Missouri; Steven Tucker, Assistant Director of Resident Services, Housing Authority Kansas City, Missouri; Capt. Scott Conner, Acting Regional Director, HHS Region 7; Jose Davis, Field Office Director (Kansas/Western Missouri), HUD Region 7; (Not Pictured – Elaine Stroud, Housing Authority Kansas City, KS)

The Kansas City cohort of health centers and housing authorities from both sides of the state line, led to an estimated 977 people receiving the COVID-19 vaccination between May and December 2021, according to a release from the Housing and Urban Development agency.

In May 2021, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced a joint-agency effort to increase access to COVID-19 prevention and treatment services, including testing and vaccines, to disproportionately affected communities.

This specifically focused on connecting HUD-assisted households and people experiencing homelessness with the care and resources of federally qualified health centers that are part of the HHS/HRSA network like those recognized at Monday’s event.

The federal partnership and local engagement focused on helping parts of the Kansas City area that traditionally have suffered from low economic opportunity and declining health outcomes to avoid letting their zip code determine their fate.

The partnership overcame these barriers and improved the COVID resilience of federally assisted households and those experiencing homelessness across the metro, through the use of several different collaborative engagement strategies such as:

  • Reviewing Geographic Information System mapping of HUD multifamily, public housing units and homelessness epicenters to create an overlay with HHS/HRSA-supported health centers that were in close proximity, to isolate where transportation barriers could impact vaccination efforts and provide transportation resources to vaccination or education events;
  • Leveraging Federal Emergency Management Agency vaccine equity survey data to identify zip-code level vaccine hesitancy rates in order to deploy education teams to enhance receptiveness to vaccination efforts;
  • Integrating multi-jurisdictional coordination calls to help determine if federally assisted households were better served by existing mass vaccination events or required on-site event development, including the use of FQHC mobile clinics at or near HUD-assisted units.

While HUD and HHS/HRSA have often worked together over the years on various events, this lasting engagement is a much more unified approach recognizing that quality and safe housing and health access is part of the same method of improving the lives of persons living at or near poverty and facing social and financial challenges.

Direct treatment of COVID was the specific focus of the May 5 pact between HUD and HHS but building equitable access to combat inequity in future health crises is the larger and more long-term play.

In addition to the work exemplified by the Kansas City-area health centers, HUD and HHS/HRSA’s joint venture to serve HUD-assisted populations continues across the Great Plains region covering Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska as well as the whole of the nation.

Additional resources and information about the scope and reach of the partnership can be found at HUD COVID-19 Resources and Fact Sheets.

The event included a short roundtable discussion exploring how partnerships with federal agencies can be improved and deployed in future national crises.

Swope Health supports Hickman Mills School District Family Summit March 5

Swope Health will join the Hickman Mills School District Family Summit with representatives from Behavioral Health, Dental and Medical services attending.

The Family Summit will be from 10 am to 1 pm Saturday, March 5, at the Smith-Hale Middle School, 9010 Old Santa Fe Road, Kansas City, MO 64138. The event is free and open to families in the Hickman Mills School District.

More than 70 organizations plan to attend the event to share information about their services and resources. The event, held in the large gymnasium at the school, includes a job fair. The Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department will have a clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, flu shots and school immunizations.

We hope to see you there!

Swope Health highlights Black History through Kansas City leaders

In February, Swope Health hosted a series of community conversations with leaders in Kansas City who reflected on Black History through their personal experiences.

Swope Health developed the program to recognize that Black history happens daily and deserves recognition more than once a year in Black History Month. The four conversations in the program are now available for replay.

The event featured:

Dr. Kimberly Beatty, chancellor of Metropolitan Community College. Kimberly Beatty, Ed.D., began her tenure as Metropolitan Community College’s eighth chancellor on July 1, 2017. She was formally installed as chancellor at an inauguration ceremony on Aug. 24, 2018.

Dr. Beatty came to MCC from Houston Community College, the nation’s fourth-largest community college system, where she served as vice chancellor for instructional services and chief academic officer.

As the first African American leader in the 105-year history of Metropolitan Community College, and the only African-American CEO in the Missouri community college system, “I live and walk in the truth of who I am each day,” Dr. Beatty says.



Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Bob Kendrick was named President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in March 2011. Founded in 1990, the NLBM is the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African American baseball and its profound impact on the social advancement of America.

“The Negro Leagues museum is bigger than baseball,” he said. “The Negro Leagues is about economic empowerment, justice and civil rights.”

The museum was founded in 1990 in a one-room office to tell “the story of triumph over adversity and the power of the human spirit.” In addition to stories about the players and the spirit with which they faced segregation and discrimination, Kendrick outlines ways the community can support the living history – including via the continued revival of the 18th and Vine district.


Frank Ellis, founder of Swope Health. Frank Ellis served as founder, chairman and CEO of Swope Health Services. Originally named Model Cities Health Corporation, Swope Health Services opened in 1969 in the basement of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Kansas City. He and his dedicated board saw the need to provide primary health services to those who fell through the cracks of the health care system – the working poor.

Ellis described Swope Health as a mission-driven, business-minded entrepreneurial organization. He recalled his motto from the early days — No money, no mission – which kept a focus on business growth and financial management as a key to fueling the success of Swope Health.

His recollections included a description of the site of current Swope Health central (a landfill), the work for Black harmony during the riots and years of civil unrest in Kansas City, and his own leadership style and practices (daily devotional and meditation).


U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Congressman from Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District.  Rep. Cleaver, now serving his ninth term in congress, was Kansas City’s first African American Mayor, elected in 1991 after serving 12 years on City Council.

During his eight-year stint in the Office of the Mayor, Cleaver distinguished himself as an economic development activist and an unapologetic redevelopment craftsman. He and the City Council brought a number of major corporations to the city and led the effort, after a forty-year delay, to build the South Midtown Roadway – now known as The Bruce R. Watkins Roadway. Additionally, his municipal stewardship includes the 18th and Vine Redevelopment, a new American Royal, the establishment of a Family Division of the Municipal Court, and the reconstruction and beautification of Brush Creek.

Cleaver addressed his work on community revitalization in the Kansas City Green Impact Zone, and new efforts with the federal Build Back Better infrastructure program.