Save, Inc. Offers Support for Kansas Citians in Need

Written by T.E. Cunningham  /  Photo by Jami Marshall

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Founded in 1986, SAVE, Inc. was the first AIDS hospice in Missouri. Since then, the organization has expanded its mission to find housing solutions for people who are homeless, have HIV/AIDS, or have substance abuse or mental illness. 

“I’ve been involved with the epidemic since back in the ‘80s, and as I became acquainted with the organization’s mission and utilization of housing as treatment, it spoke to me,” says Blaine Proctor, CEO of SAVE, Inc. Proctor became involved with SAVE, Inc. in 2005 as a volunteer, later joined the board of directors for a six-year run, then became CEO in 2014. 

“As I got involved and started learning about the clients and the challenges they faced, I began to understand that if you provide housing for intervention/prevention, you have won one of the harder parts of the battle,” adds Proctor.

SAVE, Inc. has significantly increased its footprint over the years, owning and operating seven properties. These include 65 units of housing for transitional and permanent purposes. The group provides emergency housing, referral services, and rental/utility assistance to individuals and families in a 15-county metropolitan area, including on both sides of the state line.  

The organization’s administrative costs run well below 10 percent—a proud accomplishment, as the industry standard is 12 percent. Funded primarily through federal government contracts with the Department of Housing, the organization also raises awareness and funds through events. Each year it hosts “Homecoming,” a dance and party where staff, volunteers, board members, clients, and other guests celebrate what has happened throughout the year.   

This year, the team is also reinventing a former fundraiser called No Place Like Home. Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, is the keynote speaker. Her son was murdered as a college student in 1998 in one of the most prolific series of news stories of the time, which called attention to hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people. She co-founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation and advocates for LGBTQ+ causes and rights.  

Finally, SAVE, Inc. hosts small happy hours they call “friendraising” with people who are familiar with and supportive of its efforts. They have supporters bring friends to mingle and get to know one another and the organization. Everyone is educated on how they can participate—whether it be volunteerism, donations, or another way. 

Proctor is also excited about a couple of new program launches. “SAVE Home will be renovated and reopen in 2019 as a drop-in shelter for up to 15 young adults aged 18-24 who identify as LGBTQ+,” says Proctor. He explains that this demographic is 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ+ youth, so the SAVE Home drop-in shelter will include case management, mental health services, crisis counseling, street outreach, HIV/STI testing, group sessions, disability assistance and medical services, and referrals.

Proctor adds, “We are also breaking ground in May on a new building, adding 50 units of affordable housing in addition to the 65 we already own. The housing development will be called Alhaven, and 12 units are dedicated to transition-aged youth who are aging out of foster care and have an HIV diagnosis.”

Jenny Kincaid, who is board president, says, “The work that SAVE, Inc. has done and continues to do in Kansas City for those suffering from homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness and/or a diagnosis of HIV is honorable. Rarely does one diagnosis come without another, but suffering and loss comes with all.” 

Kincaid explains that when an organization and its staff, board, and supporters continuously fight to make someone else’s life better through providing basic needs such as a place to live, all should take note. “The future at SAVE, Inc. is bright as we’re not only expanding our campuses and services, but also helping a new demographic: the youth,” she adds.

How can you get involved? Visit saveinckc.org and fill out a volunteer application. You can also donate via the website or call and ask for the Development Department to learn more about the options available.

Suzanne Steiner