History of Shepherd’s Center of Kansas City Central RSVP Program

Shepherd’s Center of Kansas City Central (SCC) was the idea of Dr. Elbert Cole, who at the time was pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. It was the result of a partnership he developed with 25 congregations in the city. With volunteer assistance they began to explore ways to identify the common needs of midlife and older adults as a means of ensuring this population would continue to live meaningful and purposeful lives. Dr. Cole and his committee soon discovered from midlife and older members of their congregations that there was a deep yearning for life-long learning and a passion for ways to stay connected to their community. Based on that information Shepherd’s Centers were born. SCC is the original Shepherd’s Center. There are now 60 Shepherd’s Centers across the nation 12 of which are in our area in the neighboring states of Kansas and Missouri. 

Now 44 years later, over 1000 volunteers contribute to SCC’s success. This number reflects a combination of short-term, long-term and episodic volunteers. The majority of our volunteers are mid-life and older adults who are enhancing their lives and the lives of others in this community by providing life-long learning opportunities, focusing on wellness, and services to help people remain in their homes. In 2010 SCC received a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service which is a federal government agency. The purpose of the grant was to administer a Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in Johnson County, Kansas. With the addition of this program the number of midlife and older adults serving our community has reached over 1200 actively engaged volunteers. In 2013 SCC added the 50 FORWARD CLUB® an age 50 and older membership club offering personal and social enrichment.

SCC serves as a watchful presence for those who are frail, homebound and in need of assistive services to remain in their homes. When SCC began, the first services offered were Meals on Wheels and Wheels that Care designed to provide transportation to doctors, pharmacies and grocery stores. Although our Wheels That Care program was discontinued, we now partner with Jet Express to provide transportation services. Our Meals on Wheels program continues to meet today’s growing needs. The Adventures in Learning program also began in the mid 1970’s. It is a multi-faceted educational enrichment activity offering classes on subjects of interest to mid-life and older adults throughout the community.

Over the years, services and programs have changed according to the needs expressed by midlife and older adults in the community. SCC offices are housed at 5200 Oak, KCMO 64112 and Central Presbyterian Church, 3501 Campbell, KCMO 64109. An additional office serving Johnson County is located at Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church 9300 Nall Ave., Overland Park, KS 66207.