Some of the players in the County Executive Golf Tournament held September 10 might not have had the best follow-throughs on their swings, but they sure did come through for Operation Breakthrough. Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders presented the $18,000 raised through this year's tournament to Operation Breakthrough co-founder Sister Berta Sailor on Monday, November 15 at the Jackson County Legislative meeting.
"To give you some context as to how successful this year's tournament was, in 2006, the last boom year for our economy before the recession, the tournament raised $15,800," said Sanders, moments before handing Sister Berta a jumbo-sized check during Monday's County Legislative meeting. "Four years later, in this recession, we were able to raise $18,000, which is a great amount of money for Operation Breakthrough and all that they do."
Operation Breakthrough opened in 1971 to provide child care for poor working families in Kansas City's urban core. The not-for-profit agency began with 50 kids.
In the four decades since, Operation Breakthrough has expanded to serve more than 600 children while providing a wide range of social services -- in addition to operating pre-school as well as before- and after-school programs.
"Six hundred children walk through Operation Breakthrough's doors, but the reality is you could add a zero to that because of all the people who need the agency's services," Sanders said. "Ninety-eight percent of the families in the program live below the poverty line. There's a great need."
And a growing need, emphasized Sister Berta.
"It scares me what has happened in 40 years," she said. "Forty years ago, there were no food pantries, no homeless shelters. Now the average age of a homeless person in Kansas City is seven. So the needs have gone way up."
Operation Breakthrough moved into its current facility at 31st and Troost in 1981. An expansion and renovation completed in 2006 doubled the size of the facility, increasing Operation Breakthrough's capacity from 353 children to 674.
While Sister Berta repeatedly thanked the County for its support through the County Executive Golf Tournament, Sanders stressed, "We want to thank Operation Breakthrough for all that they do. What a wonderful, wonderful organization. In this recession, the need is greater than ever."