Why an evangelical KCK church opened a thrift store to train leaders in its immigrant-rich neighborhood

Jhe heart and purpose of Mission Adelante is to develop and empower members of the community, especially its neighbors who come from backgrounds far from Kansas City, said Jared Meek.

“We started Mission Adelante in 2005 to really reach out to the immigrant and refugee community in our neighborhood. We focused a lot on individual transformation, serving people with the specific needs they had; but then we started to see leaders emerge. We started thinking about how we can impact the community, not just individual impact,” recalled Meek, co-founder, director and pastor of Mission Adelante – an evangelical church and non-profit organization in Kansas City, Kansas.

Click on here to learn more about the history of Mission Adelante.

The vocation of the church: to open a thrift store.

His business was not a random pick, Meek said, explaining that thrift stores provide communities with a one-stop-shop for the majority of their needs; as well as thrift stores bringing together donors, volunteers and buyers.

Adelante Thrift

“Our mission has driven us to choose savings as a space where community can be uplifted, supported and dignified by every person,” he noted. “We also found this space in Tower Plaza which had been vacant for four years, so it was a chance to revitalize a part of our community that didn’t have much to do.”

Adelante Thrift opened in 2015, adding a business area to the Adelante Mission.

“We really felt like starting a business could help our community economically by providing jobs and developing leaders,” Meek said, noting that Mission Adelante (Adelante meaning “Go Forth” in Spanish) is about create belonging and growth for all.

“… From a spiritual perspective, we are talking about how Jesus made disciples by investing in individuals and then [investing in] a group of people over time; He then gave them the ministry,” Meek continued. “We try to do that, in certain situations on a spiritual level; but in other situations, in terms of professional training, skill development and helping people become leaders in whatever sphere they find themselves in – whether in ministry or in the marketplace.

Watch the video below to meet some of the customers, volunteers and community leaders who are part of Adelante Thrift, then scroll down to continue reading.

Adelante Thrift: Community Transformation of Mission Adelante on Vimeo.

In the world of nonprofits and government departments, one of the biggest issues is finances, said David Roberson, founder of the marketing company, Azelleand board member of Mission Adelante.

“When Jarrett reached out, the story and mission of Adelante Thrift really resonated with me,” Roberson recalled. “One of the biggest questions with nonprofits and ministries is, ‘How are we going to fund this?’ Along with the thrift store, this creates an opportunity to reinvest in ministry – which ultimately helps the community.

“I really like this concept and I’m drawn to this concept because they understand how businesses can operate in ministry,” Roberson continued. “The business side is a big part of what many organizations lack.”

Click on here to learn more about David Roberson’s entrepreneurial journey.

Adelante Thrift

Adelante Thrift

Through Adelante Thrift, the church has been able to build a strong and diverse network of volunteers, as well as provide funding for ministry, Meek said.

The funding goes to the various programs offered by Mission Adelante, he continued. When the church first formed in 2005, the ministry team of 10 volunteers offered its first English as a Second Language (ESL) class and a Bible study.

Since its creation, additional programs were offered including Adelante Arts Community for Children, Leaders-in-Training, Youth Club, Citizenship Classes and more.

“The response in terms of our programs has been tremendous,” Meek said. “We see community members who have gone through our programs as children and young people, who are now part of our staff running our programs. That was the most exciting part to see.

For those who want to get involved or support Mission Adelante, it can be as simple as going shopping, Meek and Roberson noted.

“Adelante Thrift is a great thrift store, with great furniture, homewares and clothing. You never know what kind of treasures you’ll find there,” Meek said. “Also, we have a wonderful group of paid staff, but we’re always open to volunteers – whether it’s individuals or groups, we’d love to get them involved.”

Click on here volunteer with Adelante Thrift.

This story is possible thanks to the support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundationa private, nonpartisan foundation that works with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create unusual solutions and empower people to shape their future and succeed.

For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and log on to www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn

Barry F. Howard