Kimberly Becker, Executive Director for the Central Kansas Dream Center, welcomed Chamber Ambassadors and community members to the non-profit ministry’s facility at 2100 Broadway last month for a ribbon cutting to commemorate the organization’s 2-year anniversary. Modeled after the Dream Centers in Los Angeles and Phoenix, the umbrella organization exists to meet the needs of hurting people in the Central Kansas region.
“The Barnett Family started the first two dream centers with the goal of being the church that never sleeps,” Becker says. “They have been great mentors for me, helping us develop programs for our community based on the successes they have seen in their metropolitan areas.”
The Central Kansas Dream Center is one facility that encompasses numerous programs. The one that most people are familiar with is the Hungry Heart Soup Kitchen, which now offers expanded serving hours every day from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and a Monday evening Bible Study. The Life Giving Center is a homeless transitional shelter for women and children that provides a place to stay for 60 days while employment is secured and housing can be found. Lasting Life Ministries financial assistance program is another program operated by the Dream Center, and provides financial assistance to people in need.
“The Life Giving Center had been using the old Roosevelt Junior High building for several years, but what I saw was a big empty building that needed to be filled up to help the hurting people in our community,” Becker says. “We became the Dream Center in July 2013, and have since expanded our programs drastically, some of which are even open to the public.”
Some of these new programs include the Kingdom Kloset, a boutique offering free clothing, linens, and household items for those served by the Dream Center and is open to the community Tuesday and Thursdays from 10-11:30 a.m. Another is a mailbox program that allows homeless individuals to receive mail and use the Dream Center as their physical address so they can apply for jobs and get an I.D. Other programs include a café, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program called Full Surrender, and a DC Wee Wonders daycare for the transitional residents to use while they find employment along with those working for Lasting Life Ministries and Central Ks Dream Center’s foundations. The Dream Center also started a program for girls who age out of the foster system with no support.
But perhaps the most impressive of the Dream Center’s accomplishments is the implementation of a 6-month residential discipleship program that utilizes Teen Challenge curriculum to transform the lives of people facing life controlling issues, such as broken families or substance abuse. While participating in the 6-month program, residents are in the classroom three days per week, they are in chapel on Friday mornings, and spend the other two weekdays being mentored by local employers.
“The students volunteer their time learning work skills from local employers who serve as mentors two days a week,” Becker says. “During the six months the employer makes a tax-deductible donation to the Dream Center to help us cover program costs. We’ve only had one graduate not offered a job at the end of his internship. Most employers are very impressed with our students.”
To date, 16 individuals have graduated from the discipleship program. The Dream Center is currently trying to raise $150,000 to renovate the west side of the second floor to accommodate additional bunks, a staff apartment, and a multi-stall restroom. Once these improvements are complete, the organization can expand to offer a program for boys who age out of foster care and house more discipleship students. The Dream Center is entirely funded by private donations, community grants, and by Lasting Life Ministries. They receive no state or federal funding.
“If we can raise up healthy families, their employees won’t need off work for therapy, community corrections, court appearances, etc.,” Becker says. “We can break that destructive cycle in the family unit, and change our community one person at a time.”
Becker is the only full-time staff person, with three additional part-time staff, two missionaries who help out, and numerous volunteers. More than ten churches actively participate in the Dream Center’s activities every month.
Becker commented that she is often asked how the Dream Center makes a difference in the lives of their discipleship students. She shared a testimonial about one of their graduates’ transformations:
“I picked up one of our students off of a bench in front of Towne East Mall in Wichita. At the time, she was homeless, was a drug addict, and involved in human trafficking. She had lost custody of her kids and her son had been involved in a horrible abuse case. Now that she graduated from our program, she has a job, paid cash for her vehicle, has a safe home, and has full custody of her kids. Shortly after that, we got a call from the Salvation Army in Olathe about a homeless girl that needed help. The girl came to the Dream Center in Great Bend and we found out that these two women were biological siblings. That is a God thing. We are seeing lives changed every day!