Center for Homeless Youth becomes a reality

Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 16, was a momentous day for the Wichita community.

Dozens of volunteers showed up at the Midtown Good Neighbor Center at 1157 N. Emporia to put the finishing touches on the new Resource Center for Homeless Youth.
Southern Baptists were among the many Wichita residents who helped make the center a reality.

Heart of Kansas Southern Baptist Association owns the Midtown Good Neighbor Center. It also is home to Radical Praise Church, a Hispanic congregation called La Iglesia de Cristo Victorioso and the Good Neighbor Center food-and-clothing distribution.

Pastor Robert McClish leads Radical Praise Church. It is the Midtown campus of Victory Baptist Community of Faith led by Pastor Jermaine Pennington.

McClish and Pennington were among the people who were rejoicing at the opening of the Resource Center for Homeless Youth. It already has a nickname—OZ standing for “Opportunity Zone.”

The center will serve as the base for the Wichita Children’s Home’s Street Outreach services program. It offers such services as showers, laundry and computers as well as mentoring and encouragement.

Pennington said the targeted age group is homeless young people who are ages 16-21. This group includes on-the-street homeless and young people who don’t have stable housing.

About 150 on-the-street homeless youth in Wichita have been identified, Pennington said. But the number of young people who don’t have stable housing may be in the thousands. As just one example, these youth might live with various relatives, bouncing from home to home.

Homeless young people are especially vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking, Pennington said. “They’re easily lured into being exploited.”

A grassroots organization called ICT S.O.S. was formed to help end sex trafficking and human exploitation in Wichita.

Pennington asked Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists to pray for:

  • Radical Praise Church as it seeks to minister to homeless youth in Wichita.
  • “An army of volunteers” to mentor homeless youth.

He also urged Southern Baptists to “look deeper into the recesses of your community.” Get involved and help end human trafficking and exploitation in Kansas and Nebraska.