Gene has been a consistent driver of the Vittle Van since 2012. He has been very engaged since he moved back to the Kansas City area after having lived in St. Louis for several years. He is the Team Lead of a Quality Assurance technology team at NIC in the Kansas City area. He is also active in his Church.
Michael is a long time volunteer for Hope in the Streets as a driver on the Vittle Van. Michael is a partner and senior executive at BalancePoint, a leading Kansas City contract services company. Michael enjoys racquetball, running, and spending time with his wife Jane and children, Alexandra and Anthony.
Ruth is a crew member of the Vittle Van most times of the year. She also helps out with buying supplies for the Fresh Start Kit and Winter Warmth Kit programs. Ruth is a long time family friend of Joe and Sandy, and she is very active in her church and her kids lives.
Provides meals each week at cost. Each meal contains a premium sandwich, chips, and a cookie.
Providing secure parking for the Vittle Van and Worship Wagon trailer.
Provides legal services pro-bono as needed.
We serve Kansas City’s homeless by establishing relationships through friendship, dignity, and hope. Through personal and consistent contact, our programs address the basic needs of those living in the camps and woods around Kansas City. Our goal is to have a lasting impact on their lives.
As volunteers, we start from a Christian foundation. We are intensely focused on serving when in the field, always reliable and consistent in our service. We treat each individual and their situation with respect. Humility on our part is vital in order to promote trust and friendship and provide hope. We strive to preserve and build the dignity of those we serve. We greet our friends with smiles, handshakes, and an attentive ear.
Volunteers of our charity offer their time to take meals and supplies out to the chronic homeless population, making sure they stay personally connected with Kansas City’s homeless. Through these relationships established with the homeless, our volunteers are better able to understand the needs of the homeless population, not just in general, but also on an individual basis.
Food, Coats, Hats, Gloves, Shoes, Scarves, Blankets, Hygiene Items, Bibles, Bedding Supplies, Bottled Water, Bug Repellent, Sun Screen, Handshakes and Hugs, Friendship, etc.
Through our different programs we strive to help the homeless with a wide range of benefits such as meals, vital items for living through cold Kansas City winters, weekly church service, medical referrals, friendship, housing referrals, essential household items for those just coming off the street, and more.
We advertise our charity through the local community, our network of friends, family and work colleagues, and other channels as appropriate. We count on word of mouth to get the message out to Kansas City, so if you believe in what we are doing and how we are doing it, please help spread the word.
Our story is one of faith and family. On a Sunday morning, in the fall of 2004, while praying before the start of mass that day, a thought came into my head as strong and as loud as you can imagine. It became clearer and stronger all throughout that day’s services. The thought was simple and compelling … Help the Homeless. It seemed as though God was talking to me, and he was ready to send our family in a new direction.
That day, after church, we talked it over as a family and decided to put together “Winter Warmth Kits” for the homeless people in Kansas City. We didn’t know exactly what we should provide, and we really didn’t know how to get the kits to the homeless. After discussing what should go in the kits, we went shopping and put together 8 kits that each included:
The local Salvation Army helped us get the kits to those who really needed them, and they knew where the truly homeless were in town.
Beginning in early 2005 we started volunteering each week to crew the Salvation Army meal truck, and as a result we became much more familiar with the conditions and locations of Kansas City’s homeless. We met and talked directly with hundreds of people who, for one reason or another, are literally living on the streets.
In the fall of 2005, we started up our Winter Warmth Kit campaign again, but this time decided to reach out to our local community and our friends and family to see if anybody else wanted to contribute to the effort. The response was excellent, and because of the very generous donations we received, we were able to assemble 50 kits … more than we imagined possible.
It felt like we “touched a nerve” in the community and we found that people really wanted to help the homeless population in Kansas City. We decided to take the next step in 2008 and incorporate as a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Charitable Foundation. This allows us to accept donations and write tax deductible receipts, and also let’s us buy items for our charity on a tax exempt basis. In essence, it was a necessary step to establish credibility for our charitable efforts.
In 2009, we transitioned away from the Salvation Army and purchased our own cargo van (“The Vittle Van”), and are now delivering meals twice each week as a result of the generosity of many gracious donors and through the dedicated efforts of our trusted volunteers.
We are up and running with several additional programs that address different issues facing the homeless situation in Kansas City. We have high hopes of making a difference in the lives of our homeless brothers and sisters. If you believe in what we are doing, please help us spread the word.
Joe Ratterman, Founder
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