The Wonderful Work of Operation Breakthrough

My wife Rita and I get many invitations to help with events in the greater Kansas City community and, of course, we can’t say “yes” to every request. When we do take on an obligation, we try to share the good news about that organization with the hope that others may want to get involved, even if only in a small way. One thing we’ve taken on this spring is to be the Honorary Chairs for Operation Breakthrough’s 16th Annual Fundraiser, “Recipe for Success”, on April 25th, 2014 from 5:30-10:00pm at the Downtown Marriott/Muelbach Tower.

For those of you that do not know about Operation Breakthrough and what they do, let me fill you in.  We’ve all heard the phrase “children-at-risk” and that is the population that Operation Breakthrough focuses on – children-at-risk and their parents. Located at 3039 Troost in Kansas City Missouri, lamarritapicOperation Breakthrough was founded in 1971 by Sister Corita Bussanmas and Sister Berta Sailer in response to requests from center-city residents for quality child care for children from working-poor families. It is the largest nationally-accredited, single-site childcare center in the state of Missouri.  They care for 450 children every day and 85% of enrolled children are from families living below the poverty level, often making less than $14,000 per year. Besides providing early-childhood education, Operation Breakthrough also provides before- and after-school services to another 125 children. The center provides emergency services, food, clothing, diapers, on-site medical and dental care, occupational, speech and play therapy. There are also programs for parents and caregivers, and some of the children are at times homeless or in foster care. Having toured the facility, I can tell you that Operation Breakthrough is a busy and vibrant place. There is plenty of activity!

Time is a limited commodity for everyone. Naturally, Operation Breakthrough needs donations of all kinds on a continuing basis.  This includes financial contributions and donations of goods such as food, clothing, and other basic necessities. The Christmas season also provides an opportunity to adopt a family. Many schools, including Rockhurst High School, have encouraged their students to give service hours to Operation Breakthrough. Volunteers can support a preschool teacher in a classroom, serve as a tutor or homework helper for school-age students, rock babies to sleep in the infant rooms, support the administrative team with office and administrative work, or help with special projects and events. One thing anyone can do is simply sponsor a child for the Summer Enrichment Program where they will spend their mornings reading and their afternoons exploring the community and discovering their talents.

Recently, after a visit to Operation Breakthrough to work on some details for the upcoming annual fundraiser, I saw a brochure made for the parents of the children at Operation Breakthrough.  The information in the brochure could benefit all of us. It highlighted three things parents should do with their young children on a regular – preferably daily – basis: talk to your child, read to your child, and play with your child. Just these basic things remind us of how distracted we can become with all of the activities we have in our overscheduled lives. The greatest gift we can give our own children, and the children at Operation Breakthrough, is an opportunity to know how family is supposed to work. A family is where everyone grows up, comes to understand how relationships and friendships, and how to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. All of our children deserve such an opportunity. Check out Operation Breakthrough and how you might become involved.  No one can go wrong when they make an effort to help a child or family.