Leadership Overland Park Session 2 – Social Services in Johnson County

Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 by
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Shawnee Mission Medical Center

The second session of Leadership Overland Park was held at the new and improved Shawnee Mission Medical Center. Wonderful hospital. Both of my kids were born at this hospital, so I have very fond memories of my time there (sleeping on an uncomfortable foldout couch notwithstanding).

This session started with a panel of people who run non-profit centers in Johnson County. They talked about the services they provide and what it’s like helping the less fortunate in Johnson County. The organizations ranged from shelters for victims of domestic abuse to facilities that provide support to the homeless.

Affinis has a history supporting an organization called ReStart that is based in Kansas City, Missouri. And I think, like a lot of folks in Overland Park and Johnson County, I associated those organizations with the more urban areas of Kansas City. It was interesting and eye-opening to hear about the strong need for those same services here in Overland Park. I think each panel of the members noted how they have been hit by the economic downturn and that fundraising was an ongoing struggle. But, they also spoke positively about the number of volunteers from the community who help them keep things moving.

The second panel was made up of members of the Johnson County Social Services departments, including Mental Health, Human Services and the Health Department. I was struck by the demand for these services. As soon as additional beds are added to a facility they fill up. And help is always welcomed. Anyone looking to volunteer would find plenty of programs where assistance would be needed and appreciated. The numbers are surprising…20% of the US population has a diagnosable mental illness. Wow. And when treatment facilities are full and these individuals can’t find the help they need it can lead to trouble with the law which in the long run will lead to more expenses to the community.

Both panel groups did a great job of explaining the social issues facing Overland Park today. These organizations and the people who work for them do a lot of great things that make our community a better place.

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