The heart and purpose of Mission Adelante is to develop and empower community members — 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 that they had; but then we started to see leaders emerge. We started thinking about how we can make a community impact, not just an individual impact,” recalled Meek, the co-founder, director and pastor at Mission Adelante — an Evangelical church and non-profit organization in Kansas City, Kansas.
Click here to read more about the story behind Mission Adelante.
The church’s calling: open a thrift store.
Its venture was no random selection, Meek said, explaining that thrift stores provide communities with a one-stop shop for a majority of their needs; as well as thrift stores bringing together donors, volunteers and shoppers.
“Our mission drove us to choose thrift as a space where community could be uplifted, supported and dignified by every person,” he noted. “We also found this space in Tower Plaza that had been vacant for four years, so this was a chance to revitalize part of our community that didn’t have much going on.”
Adelante Thrift opened in 2015, adding a business sector to Mission Adelante.
“We really felt like starting a business could help our community economically by providing jobs and also building leaders,” Meek said, noting that Mission Adelante (with Adelante being Spanish for “Go Forth”) is about creating belonging and growth for all.
“… From a spiritual perspective, we talk about how Jesus made disciples by investing in individuals and then [investing in] a group of people over time; He then turned the ministry over to them,” Meek continued. “We’re trying to do that, in some situations on a spiritual level; but in other situations, in terms of job training, skill development and helping people become leaders in whatever sphere they’re in — whether it’s in ministry or in the marketplace.”
Watch the video below to meet some of the customers, volunteers and community leaders who are a part of Adelante Thrift, then scroll down to keep reading.
In the world of nonprofits and ministries, one of the biggest pain points comes down to finances, said David Roberson, founder of the marketing firm, Azella, and board member for Mission Adelante.
“When Jarrett reached out, the story and mission of Adelante Thrift just really resonated with me,” Roberson recalled. “One of the biggest questions with nonprofits and ministries is, ‘How are we going to fund this?’ With the thrift store, that creates an opportunity to pour back into the ministry — which ends up helping the community.
“I just really love and gravitated to that concept because they understand how business can work into ministry,” Roberson continued. “The business side is a big piece of what is missing from a lot of organizations.”
Click here to read about David Roberson’s entrepreneurial journey.
Through Adelante Thrift, the church has been able to build a strong and diverse network of volunteers, as well as provide funding for the ministry, Meek said.
Funding goes toward 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 Bible study.
Since its inception, additional programs have been 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 shared. “We’re seeing community members who came up through our programs as kids and youths, who are now on our staff leading our programs. That’s been the most exciting part to witness.”
For those who are interested in getting involved with or supporting Mission Adelante, it can be as easy as shopping, Meek and Roberson noted.
“Adelante Thrift is a great thrift store, with great furniture, housewares and clothing. You never know what types of treasures you’ll discover there,” Meek said. “Also, we have a wonderful group of paid staff, but we are always open to volunteers — whether they are individuals or groups, we would love to get them involved.”
Click here to volunteer with Adelante Thrift.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.