A community endeavor for Lee’s Summit non-profit Pro Deo

tporter@lsjournal.comOctober 11, 2013 

  • 15

    Number of seats in a new van being purchased by local non-profit Pro Deo Center for Youth.

Without question organizers of the Dream Big Dreams Tour were looking forward to their schedule stop in Lee’s Summit, and although the creative arts career symposium was canceled, good news still came from the effort to help an area non-profit organization.

Robin Blakely, CEO of Creative Center of America and author of “Six Hats” and “PR Therapy” and headliner of the tour, said the Oct. 12 event scheduled for First Presbyterian Church in Lee’s Summit was canceled due to illness of one of the panelists and the unavailability of another.

Proceeds from the conference geared toward writers and artists and how they can make a living with their words and works were slated to help Pro Deo Youth Center of Lee’s Summit purchase a 15-passenger van to help transport the young people that take part in the after-school program. Despite the setback with the canceled tour, Pro Deo is still in line to receive a new van thanks to the generosity of the local community.

“They are still getting a van and we are excited for them,” Blakely said Oct. 9. “Individual donors have really stepped up for them.”

Kylie Ewing, executive director of Pro Deo, said a number of donors have contributed to the non-profit’s ability to purchase a vehicle that will be used for drop-off service and out of town excursions. As it stands now, the organization has to either rent a van for travel purposes or borrow a partnering church’s van for events around town.

The organization is geared toward children ages 12-18.

“What’s awesome about it is that several different churches were able to get involved,” Ewing said. “One of the churches that helped us was First Presbyterian Church. From there itty-bitty kids’ vacation Bible school all the way up to their men’s group, they did a dinner theater and the proceeds went to (Pro Deo). They had their whole entire church involved on that level. And then Discover Church – that was what their mission was for the week of vacation Bible school.

“Since May of last year, we have been trying to get a van together, so there’s been little pieces here and there, but we were still lacking a significant amount of money. Then we had a gentleman come by that wanted to take a tour of our facility and wanted to come and see what were where about and he stepped up to commit the rest of the money for the van. Everything we have ever done with Pro Deo has been a community endeavor. It has never been one person stepping up to the plate and taking care of the whole entire thing. We would never survive as an organization if that was the case.”

Ewing noted the effort of Blakely and her company, adding Pro Deo was lucky to even be considered for such as fundraising opportunity.

“When they came to me and told me what they were going to do with the funds, I was completely blown away,” she said. “Even after they canceled they were like, ‘we are still committed to you that these funds are going to get raised. We believe in your organization and we believe in you.’ And that is probably the most encouragement that someone can give a person. If ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work they will go to no ends to make all of their plans work until we reach the end destination.”

Next week Ewing and a group of volunteers will load up a van – not a new one; members of Pro Deo’s board of directors are still finalizing the vehicle’s purchase – and travel to St. Louis for an annual rites of passage trip.

“Most of our teenagers have never been out of the Kansas City area, so every year we take a group of kids to St. Louis,” Ewing said. “It’s just a fun getaway. It’s really the catalyst take gets us to the next level with the kids that we take to get to know them on a deeper level. It’s one of my favorite trips of the year.”

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