The HPC Young Adult Program: A Turning Point

Ryan’s Inspirational Journey to Success

Life often presents challenges that test our resilience and determination, and Ryan’s story is a testament to the power of unwavering perseverance and the support of the right community. Ryan’s journey from living in his car while trying to finish high school to successfully graduating from the HPC Housing program and securing a bright future is nothing short of inspiring.

Imagine trying to focus on your studies and complete high school while struggling to find a safe place to live. This was the reality for Ryan, who found himself living in his car for months, battling against circumstances that could have easily shattered his dreams. Despite these overwhelming challenges, Ryan stayed enrolled in school, to create a better life.

The Young Adult Program: A Turning Point

The HPC program provided Ryan with the support and the resources he needed to overcome his dire situation. Through the program, he not only found a stable living environment but he also found a network of individuals who believed in his potential. With the guidance of the housing staff, Ryan began to rebuild his life step by step.

One of the most remarkable achievements in Ryan’s journey was earning his high school diploma. Through hard work, Ryan crossed the finish line and proudly held his diploma in his hands.

Ryan’s journey didn’t end with his high school diploma. With newfound confidence and determination, he pursued full-time employment in the security sector. His commitment to building a stable future pushed him to excel in his job, proving that with the right mindset, even the most challenging obstacles can be overcome.

Prioritizing Family

Despite the demands of his job and his personal journey, Ryan never lost sight of what truly mattered to him – his daughter. He made it a priority to maintain regular contact with her and consistently provide child support. This dedication to his family highlighted Ryan’s transformation into a responsible and caring individual.

A Bright Future Ahead

As Ryan successfully graduated from the Housing program, a new chapter in his life began. With his head held high and his heart full of hope, he moved into his own apartment in downtown Kansas City. His words at the graduation ceremony – “If it weren’t for HPC, I don’t know where I would be, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today” – encapsulate the gratitude he feels for the program that helped him transform his life. Ryan’s inspiring tale serves as a beacon of hope, encouraging us all to believe in our potential and to never give up, no matter the obstacles that come our way. There’s no doubt that Ryan’s journey is far from over – it’s just beginning.

Don’t Believe Everything You Feel

I’m a house parent on property of a transitional living facility—Hillcrest Platte County (HPC). We have several young adults in our program ranging from the ages of seventeen through twenty-two. These young adults have found themselves at HPC for various reasons, but I’m glad that each one is here.

Recently, we did an activity that we’ve never done before. We transported them all in a van and took them to Barnes & Noble. There, we directed them to take an hour to search the books and select the one they wanted us to purchase for them. Normally, we would go to a library which is free but there is something unique about being able to get something new and call it your own; this can help create healthy habits.

We gave the young adults the guideline that the book had to teach them something and could not just be a piece of fiction or a comic book. Then, we set them loose in the store. The young adults wandered around, thumbed through pages, read, compared, and contrasted. Ultimately, they landed on their books.

When we arrived back at housing, we had the young adults explain why they chose the literature that they did. There were wonderful motivations behind each decision.

I truly wonder what will be the result of this activity in their lives, five to ten years down the road. While working with this population of young adults comes with its challenges, moments like these will always put a smile on my face as I watch them dream of what could be.

>About the Author
Theo Davis is a House Parent at Hillcrest Platte County.

More Than Just a Home

As a “newcomer” to the Hillcrest Platte County staff, I never truly understood the integral role a resident manager or houseparent plays in our program participants’ lives. Sure, I am familiar with the terms “houseparent” and “resident manager” (we use both terms depending on the program). However, I now have a better understanding of these Hillcrest Platte County front-line warriors. Toni Kelzer, resident manager for the 90-day adult housing program, and Theo & Malia Davis, houseparents for the young adult program, are just some of our resident managers who have dedicated their lives to helping the HPC housing program participants move from homelessness to self-sufficiency and discover a purpose for the future!
The house parenting role at Hillcrest Platte County is an intricate piece of our ministry and within the lives of our housing program participants. They are role models, and they invest life lessons and core values that our residents carry into their future as autonomous adults. Our houseparent individuals/couples are first and foremost lovers of Christ. But they all have unique personalities and skills. They come from different career and financial backgrounds, are of different ages and represent many walks of life. But what they have in common is a positive attitude, patience, strong moral character, compassion, dedication, determination, and, most importantly, a desire to be the change they want to see in the world.
Finding our “why,” our God-ordained purpose, is one of the greatest blessings this side of eternity. Theo and Malia share their “why” in becoming houseparents for the HPC Young Adult Program:
“I became a resident Manager for the young adults back in August of 2018. I’m a pastor and have been in youth/young adult ministry for 16 years now. As much as I enjoy preaching the gospel in a church setting, I jumped at the opportunity for my family to live onsite with these young adults and be daily examples for them. For me, the most rewarding parts are when residents share with me aspects of their life. To celebrate achieving a goal like getting a raise, enrolling in college, or learning how to cook on the stove. These are things residents don’t have to share with me. So when they do, I make sure to celebrate with them as best as I can! The greatest struggle is building relationships with them, giving them wise advice, yet sometimes still seeing them make poor decisions. As a parent of two, I know all too well that we can’t choose for young people. They have to make the right choice on their own. But our door is never closed, and we love to work with them once they are mature enough to do the internal work necessary to be successful!”
Toni Kelzer, resident manager for our Platte City Adult Housing Program, shares, “The rewards are endless! I love watching our residents grow and achieve so much during their time with Hillcrest Platte County. The relationships built are precious. I love witnessing the change within each program participant in their social skills, ability to budget, finding their worth, and the excitement and confidence gained upon their graduation!”
The House Parent/residential manager roles are part-time, on-site volunteer positions. House Parents/residential managers can continue to hold full-time or part-time jobs during the day, as their obligation to HPC is in the evenings. House Parents’ duties include managing activities and providing support to the HPC housing program residents. Hillcrest Platte County views the House Parent position as a ministry and expects house parents to have a missionary mindset. House Parent accommodations include a  two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with a living room, kitchen, and laundry area. Additionally, you are provided with a budget for program activities. We consider married couples with or without children and singles. Each House Parent must be a supportive team member in the care of and encouragement of our housing program participants, have a driver’s license with a good driving record, be a minimum of 21 years old, and pass background checks and drug tests.
I realize there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to finding houseparents or resident managers; they range in ages, and each comes from different backgrounds. Each couple or individual brings varied life experiences and perspectives, allowing them to relate with assigned “families” individually and compassionately. Some houseparents already have biological children while others do not. Although many unique attributes lend to uniqueness among the houseparents and resident managers, one key trait unifies them: a desire to see the HPC program participants heal and grow mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to become self-sufficient adults!

The Blessings of Apartment Sponsorship

Jane’s Story

Jane* grew up in a single-parent home. Her mother worked hard to provide for them and always made sure Jane had what she needed. After graduating from high school, Jane took a full-time job. She continued living with her mother and began contributing a little of her earnings towards the monthly expenses. The rest of her check she spent before the next payday.

Then, Jane’s world changed forever.

Within six months of receiving a cancer diagnosis, Jane’s mother – her only family – was dead. Young Jane was suddenly on her own. Without her mother’s support, Jane soon became homeless.

She lived where she could, couch-surfing with friends and, when necessary, sleeping in her car. When her employer learned her situation, they referred Jane to Hillcrest Platte County.

Jane realized she had no control over her life. She was just surviving and accepted the help Hillcrest offered. After entering Hillcrest’s Young Adult Program, Jane was assigned a case manager, a budget counselor, life skills classes, and an apartment sponsor. They became her tribe.

She met weekly with her case manager to review her goals and progress towards achieving them. Before each meeting, she prepared her documents and wrote down any questions or needs she wanted to discuss.

Every Tuesday evening, Jane attended life skills classes to assist her journey to self-sufficiency. She enjoyed the lessons and discussions with others in the program. She also regained confidence in herself.

She met weekly with her budget counselor to review her income and expenses. They worked together to set her budget and manage her money.Flowers to brighten a persons day.

Building a Connection

When Jane moved into her apartment, she found a vase of fresh, brightly colored flowers and a small note card with her name on it. Inside the card was this message, “Hi Jane! I’m Mary**. I will be bringing your welcome meal and a few other items to help you feel at home. Please text or call me when you can.”

Jane’s case manager had told her that churches sponsored most of their apartments, and someone from her sponsoring church would be contacting her. She hadn’t had a home-cooked meal in weeks, and it sounded pretty good. She sent a text to the number Mary had left on the note.

Several hours later, there was a tap at her door, and she opened it to find a smiling face holding a cardboard box and carrying several grocery bags. During their text conversation, Mary had asked Jane if she could also bring over a few items to stock her pantry and refrigerator. Jane had been surprised when Mary asked about her favorite foods, not just bread, milk, and eggs. The grocery bags contained some of her favorite snacks and comfort foods. In the box were two square pans of enchiladas – one ready to eat and the other ready to freeze for a later meal.

Mary chatted with Jane as they put away the groceries. She shared a little about herself and let Jane know she was there for her. Mary would check in with her once a week to see how Jane was doing. Mary also told Jane that she and her small group at church knew she had been through a lot, and they would be praying for her comfort and success.

Jane lived at Hillcrest for six months and learned to take control of her life. She also learned how it felt to be loved unconditionally by a stranger who provided encouragement, support, and a sense of belonging. Of course, by the time Jane graduated from Hillcrest, Mary was no longer a stranger. They had built a relationship that continued beyond graduation.

You Can Help

Hillcrest Platte County provides a helping hand to many of the areas homeless. What sets Hillcrest apart from other housing programs in the area is You.

The encouragement and support received through apartment sponsorship make a big difference in a resident’s success. Residents living in an apartment with an active church sponsor have a better chance of success than residents living in an unsponsored apartment.

As Christians, our calling is to build connections with those around us by showing the love of Jesus. Sometimes we show that love with a phone call to a resident in a transitional housing apartment. A call where you listen to their struggles and provide encouragement. Sometimes it’s an email that shares positive scriptures and asks if there is anything you can do for them. Or, it’s a gift card to a local restaurant so your resident can experience their first meal out in a very long time.

If you are called to show God’s love through human connection and would like more information regarding apartment sponsorship, contact Rebecca Sayre at or (816) 877-4397.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited in.” Matthew 25:35


*Jane is not a real person. Her story is a composite of several Hillcrest residents.
**Mary is not a real person. She is a composite of Hillcrest apartment sponsors.


Peggy Staver is a former budget counselor for HPC. She blogs at her personal site and writes content for non-profits and small business websites. You can find her at

Obstacles to a Fully Self-Supporting Lifestyle

For most of us, we live a lifestyle that is fully self-supporting in which we have money to cover the basics of life with enough left over to do the things that make life enjoyable. However, many across Kansas City and our nation struggle each week to pay their rent, utility bills, and to put food on the table. Our nation is the wealthiest in all of human history but we need solutions to these very real obstacles that affect millions.

Affordable Housing

Finding affordable housing is a lot harder than it sounds. For people who have poor credit, an eviction (or more) on their record, or work at low-wage jobs, it is nigh onto impossible. Many times, they are forced to pay rent that is higher than the fair market value because they represent a higher risk to the landlord. This causes even more stress on wallets that are already stretched to the limit. All it takes is an illness, a vehicle breakdown, or the loss of an income to put a family in crisis.

Some would cry foul and choose to ignore this problem under the false belief that government programs are available to help these family. It can take years for a family to be awarded Section 8 Housing assistance. When it does happen, the recipients still have no security in housing because a landlord can drop out of the program at any time resulting in mass evictions. It happens quite often and I have seen it in my office several times.

One solution that seems to work is providing tax breaks to landlords to encourage them to continue accepting housing vouchers. Likewise, we also need more income sensitive housing for those who do not qualify for Section 8 Housing. Again, tax incentives should be provided to encourage landlords to base rent on the income constraints of would be renters. This creates a win-win situation for the renter and the landlord.

Affordable Transportation

Another obstacle to a fully self-supporting lifestyle is the lack of affordable (and dependable) transportation. Many families live at or below the poverty level and cannot afford to purchase a vehicle that costs more than $300 to $500. Tragically, the vehicle they can afford will be unreliable at best and at worst will stop running altogether in short order. I see it all-to-often. What are these people to do? They cannot afford to take a cab to work every day. Even as “affordable” as Uber and Lift are for single trips, it is still too expensive to sustain for long.

Many turn a blind eye to this struggle and declare that this is why we have the Kansas City Area Transit Authority where for just $3.00 anyone can ride the bus all day. On the surface, that sounds great but the devil is always in the details. The bus lines are limited. Nowhere is this truer than in Platte County. There is one bus route and that only goes as far North as the airport and is limited, more-or-less, to Prairie View Road!

What are people to do who live miles East, West, or North of the bus line because their “affordable” housing is nowhere near this KCATA approved route? None of these can get to higher wage jobs because they have no means of taking advantage of our severely limited mass transit system. Sadly, Platte County has been begging the Transit Authority for years to expand the bus line only to be told the KCATA cannot afford to expand the service it provides to Platte County.

One thing that can help these families is the donation of affordable and dependable vehicles. I know individuals that go to great pains to maintain their cars and trucks, not so they will retain value for a trade later but so they remain reliable year after year. The donation of such vehicles would be a blessing to low-income families. However, the donation of cars and trucks that are reliable is a very real problem. The unscrupulous donor of soon-to-breakdown vehicles gets a tax break while also passing their problem vehicle onto someone else. This is an issue of personal integrity and must not be tolerated as it causes great harm to low-income families.

To donate a reliable vehicle, please reach out to

Affordable Childcare

Another obstacle to a fully self-supporting lifestyle for single mothers and many families with limited income is childcare. I recently had a family in my office where both parents are working full-time but who are paying $1500 a month in childcare for their two children. In many cases, it is more cost effective for mothers, whether single or married, to receive government assistance than to work and pay for childcare.

While it is true that childcare costs have increased as childcare workers have begun to earn more, the real problem has been stagnant wages for low-income families. In response to this, more and more churches have started to offer childcare that costs much less but, when one’s income is so low, that often makes little difference. On top of that, there are often long waiting lists to access this “affordable” childcare. We clearly need more affordable childcare options including private, neighborhood options.

One Pragmatic Solution

The greatest thing that we can do is to help low-income families earn higher wages. Many in low-income families earn so little due to a lack of education and training. While it is still legal for 16-year-olds to drop out of school, doing so negatively affects lifelong wages. Very few who did not complete high school earn more than minimum wage and many cannot find full-time work. Yes, we need to do more to promote affordable housing, affordable transportation, and affordable childcare, but raising wages through education and training should be at the top of the list as well because artificially setting wages leads not to a higher standard of living, but to higher unemployment.

We can make a difference in wages by changing the law so children are no longer allowed to quit school and by helping those who do quit to earn their high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, we need more affordable academic and vocational training programs. This can be done by expanding access to Pell Grants and scholarships based on both need and performance. The truth is that education and training do the most to help individuals move from low-paying jobs to well-paying careers. As voters, we need to make our elected and appointed officials recognize that we can no longer afford to ignore this reality.

Blog written by HPC’s Blessings Program Director, David Johnson