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New KCK Emergency Shelter Gets Help From Community Luau

Cody Newill
'Robert's Place' is set to take over as KCK-based non-profit PACES' new emergency shelter this summer.

A new emergency shelter for children in Wyandotte County opening up this summer got a little help from the community Saturday.

The proceeds from the "Luau with Love" at St. Patrick Catholic Church will help fund Robert's Place, a shelter where children in abusive homes can be taken after police have intervened.

Robert's Place is run by PACES, a non-profit branch of Wyandot Inc., that focuses on helping children and adolescents through mental health issues and abuse. It's named after Robert Zevenbergen, the son of Wyandot Inc.'s former CEO who was killed in a car accident last year.

Wyandot Inc., CEO Randy Callstrom was at the auction — decked out in a Hawaiian shirt. He says that a key goal is making the house inviting for the children who have to stay there.

Credit Cody Newill / KCUR
Wyandot Inc. CEO Randy Callstrom mingles around in a Hawaiian shirt at the Luau with Love.

"It's going to be a warm place for these kids to come when they are experiencing really a very tragic time of crisis in their young lives," Callstrom says. "It'll be comfortable and very safe for them, because safety is of paramount importance."

PACES executive director Judi Rodman agreed with Callstrom. She says that offering children a safe place to stay even for just a few days can make a big difference for the children psychologically.

"If the kids have a transition where they feel safe and supported, especially if they've disclosed something that has led to them being removed [from their home], they need that to feel like they've made the right choice," Rodman says. "If they don't have that, then often times they feel guilty and then internalize the pain."

PACES' current shelter is a 1,400 square foot duplex with four beds. Rodman says Robert's Place is around 5,000 square feet and can house 10 comfortably. She expects the house will be approved by the state to open within a few weeks.

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