Welcome Home

Father & Twin Daughters Receive 7th House Remodeled Through Constructing Futures

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2015

Like any other 5-years-olds would, Artis Rollins' daughters marveled at all the presents beneath their Christmas tree, then immediately began to anticipate unwrapping each package. The identical twins’ father, meanwhile, was still overjoyed about the gift he and his girls had just opened—the house where that tree now stands.

Rollins and his daughters are the recipients of the most recent house remodeled through Jackson County’s innovative Constructing Futures program. Rollins’ jaw dropped when County Executive Mike Sanders made the official announcement during a special ceremony this morning at the Marlborough Community Center in Kansas City.

“First of all, I want to give thanks to God,” said Rollins. “This was shocking. I had no idea. I surely appreciate all the hard work and effort of everyone involved. I am so, so, so grateful.”
ResponseA Delightful Shock!
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and his Chief of Staff Calvin Williford congratulate Artis Rollins as he reacts to the news he and his twin daughters are the recipients of the latest home remodeled through the Constructing Futures program.
Jackson County, Sanders pointed out, has now surprised a family in need with the keys to a Constructing Futures home just days before Christmas four times in the last three years. A giant red bow covered the door to the seventh Constructing Futures house that Sanders and Jackson County Legislator Alfred Jordan (2nd District) showed the Rollins family around—only a few blocks from the community center.

“This and the six other times we’ve given a home to a family through Constructing Futures are among the most emotional days I have experienced in public service,” said Sanders afterward.

A Fresh Start Back In KC

Having endured losing a house to foreclosure and after previously living in Minnesota, Rollins, 52, returned to Kansas City last year seeking a fresh start back in his old hometown. When he was spotted living in his car, Rollins was directed to reStart for assistance. The local non-profit homeless agency has helped him get back on his feet.

Rollins has full custody of the twins. He supports his family working two jobs—one with Woodley Building Maintenance, the other with Kansas City, Missouri, Parks and Recreation.

“I know I can pay this forward,” said Rollins, holding his new house key. “I want to help with the next house.”

Several families who’ve struggled with homelessness are considered for each Constructing Futures home.

“This year, one story—one family—stood out,” Sanders said. “It is the story of someone who, despite some life struggles, is committed to making good choices. It is a story of overcoming obstacles, even the extreme obstacle of homelessness. It is a story that shows hard work can pay off, and, ultimately, it is the story of a man who is very dedicated to his daughters.”

One Program—Three Issues

Sanders launched Constructing Futures in 2008 to address three crucial issues: 1) homelessness, 2) the plight vacant houses can have on a neighborhood, 3) the need to provide on-the-job training for individuals struggling to find stable employment. 

“A Constructing Futures house does more than give one family a new home,” stressed Sanders. “Remodeling a vacant house puts an end to that property being a drain on a neighborhood’s property values—possibly even a haven for criminal activity—and puts it back on the property tax rolls. And, in the process, we can give individuals trying to find good-paying jobs some valuable hands-on experience doing the actual remodeling work.”  

Connections To Success has provided the workers for each Constructing Futures home. The non-profit helps individuals who are unemployed, underemployed or seeking to secure a steady job after being incarcerated acquire new skills, such as doing construction work.

'Bundle' Delivered

Three of the Connections To Success clients who worked on the Rollins’ new house attended today’s announcement. When they were putting the finishing touches on the home two weeks ago, each noted how helping a family who had, like them, been through difficult times made participating in Constructing Futures about more than job training. 

Doug Nicholson wasn’t thinking about how learning to side a house might improve his personal employment prospects. He was merely imagining the joy of the family who would be getting the keys to their new home “right before Christmas”—“whoever they might be.”

The Kansas City man smiled and said, “It makes me feel pretty good to see somebody who’s gone through hard times have a bundle of happiness come into their lives. Then tears start flowing. It gives me goosebumps.”

Nicholson was there today to see Rollins and his daughters walk around the house that he and his Connections To Success co-workers remodeled inside and out. He smiled again, then nodded. “We did it,” he said. “Bundle delivered.”

Moments later, the Rollins girls rolled out their new bicycles, eager to take them for a first spin. They boldly declared they didn’t need training wheels.

Their father shook his head and shouted protectively, “Oh, yes they do"—at least until they get accustomed to the hill their new home rests on. 

Girls_On_Bikes

Shocked_Response

Partners


Jackson County's partners on this most recent Constructing Futures house included non-profits, neighborhood associations, private businesses and individual volunteers: 

  • Midtown Home Depot
  • Morgan Jacobs General Contracting
  • Lathrop and Gage
  • The Marlborough Community Coalition
  • Neighborhood Housing Services
  • reStart
  • Operation Breakthrough
  • Jackson County Parks + Rec
  • Jerry and Joan Riffel
  • Connections To Success.