By JOE JAROSZ
May 14, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – This past Valentine’s Day, Guadalupe Centers, Inc. purchased the Saint Paul’s School of Theology campus.
At a recent Kansas City, Mo., business session, Jean Paul Chaurand, chief operating officer of the Centers, said the purchase was a gift to everyone in the Centers. But after hearing the presentation from Chaurand and chief executive officer Cris Medina, councilman Jermaine Reed, whose district includes the campus, explained the purchase was more a gift to the city.
“I’m glad to have the Guadalupe Centers in the heart of the third district,” Reed said. “I’m delighted you guys have the campus and what it will mean for the Northeast part of town.
The 180,000 square feet campus includes 10 buildings on about 18 acres of land is located at 5203 E. Truman Road. Medina and Chaurand updated the Kansas City City Council during the business session about it’s plans for the campus and when it believes everything will start happening.
Medina, who has been CEO for the Guadalupe Centers, Inc., for 34 years, started off the presentation by saying the organization started looking at expanding about four years ago when its clients started shifting to other parts of the city. When the campus became available in August 2013, they jumped at the opportunity to come to the Northeast/Eastside area because “providing services to that area” with a growing Latino population was important. Medina also pointed out that the area includes a large number of low-income families with not enough services provided to them, something the Guadalupe Centers would correct.
“Our vision includes a multi-generational use from pre-school to senior housing,” Medina said. “It’s a multi-ethnic community and we’re excited to serve everyone.”
The first programs to launch, Chaurand said, will be youth services projects and education this coming August. Along with adding a second pre-school to the organization and a second site for the summer school program, the Guadalupe Centers will also move the elementary school currently sitting at 17th Street and Broadway Boulevard to the campus.
“Youth development is something we’ve done since inception,” Chaurand said.
Chaurand also mentioned the adult education classes that will take place on campus, likely to begin after the introduction of the youth programs. Classes for adults include English as a second language classes, a program to achieve one’s GED and an apprenticeship program for trades. Donnelly College, of Kansas City, will teach the classes.
“We thought it was important to include GED courses because a lot of entry-level jobs now require GEDs,” Chaurand said. “They would be affordable classes open to the community at times adults will be able to attend.”
The campus will also continue to provide many family services that Guadalupe Centers, Inc., have become known for. The services include homeless prevention, food pantry assistance and budget counseling, among others.
There are also plans to bring a credit union onto the campus as well as renting out the dining and banquet halls for receptions and private events. With all the programs, it is estimated the new campus will help the Guadalupe Centers serve around 600 families, doubling current numbers.
“In the grand scheme, we’d love to utilize the great indoor and outdoor space,” Medina said. “We’ll have 20 acres of space to work with.”
Both Medina and Chaurand both expressed interest in partnering more with the city to hold events on the campus. After the presentation, several council members suggested ideas on ways the city and the Centers can partner together to utilize the space and programs offered.
“We were worried when Saint Paul’s [School of Theology] said they were moving out but what you’ve done will make the surrounding neighborhood a wonderful place,” councilman Jim Glover said.