I've sung that song so many times before, but I never knew I would sing it again and mean it! As I've written in previous posts, I grew up in Kansas City, and I love it there, but I never could imagine myself living there again. (not enough mountains, oceans, or other outdoor extremes).
Well, as fate would have it, I will be living there for the next couple of years at least. I was offered a job that I simply could not refuse. Mind you I was not looking in Kansas City, but as my family still lives there and personal connections abound- I became aware of an amazing opportunity.
This coming Monday, January 3rd, I will begin my new job as Assistant Director at Urban Ranger Corps. This isn't exactly the preservation job I was seeking, but given my background in non-profits, my love of construction and hands-on work, and my passion for 'saving the world', this position almost seems made for me.
Urban Ranger Corps provides learning opportunities for at-risk inner city youth in Kansas City. This primarily consists of working with low-income neighbors by cleaning up yards, painting houses, and doing small repair work on homes in the surrounding neighborhoods. As the website states: Through an eight and one-half hour work days (30 minutes is provided for a nonpaid lunch period), four days a week, 9-weeks summer phase, at-risk youth learn important pre-employment skills (summarized as, “Be on time, Dress appropriately, and Speak respectfully”) by being assigned to a Work Team of six rangers and projects to repair, paint and restore the yards of homes owned by low-income families, especially the homes of seniors or households headed by a single parent or (often) grand parent.
Additionally, the Corps has expanded to support these Rangers throughout the school year: When the school year begins in September , the year-round phase of ICP Management/Coaching phase begins. The work of this phase is based on the Individual Career Plan (ICP) developed for each ranger during the summer phase. The ICP Manager/Coach meets with rangers on a bi-weekly basis to ensure they are carrying out the action steps set forth in their ICP’s.
The Urban Ranger Corps was founded in July 2003 by the Rev. John Wandless while he was pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church, an inner Kansas City parish (2001 – 2006). The successes experienced by the program are outstanding. You can read testimonials of participants and read news articles written about Rangers on their website: http://urbanrangercorps.org/index.asp
In addition to administrative non-profit responsibilities, I will also be conducting CPR/First Aid training for the Rangers, identifying and acting as project manager for a home to be rehabilitated and sold for program income, planning 'study abroad' trips and projects for the rangers and supervising (likely in New Mexico or surrounding area), helping plan logistics for summer work projects, among many other tasks. The Rangers would also like to become involved with bike trail development as well as work with the Forest Service or Park Service. How fantastic is all of that!!
Needless to say, I am very excited about this opportunity. These are amazing youth and I am honored to get the chance to work with them. I hope to create a blog or some sort of social media outlet for my work with the Rangers. Please take an opportunity to visit the website and check for updates regarding a social media project- it will be very exciting!