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Bikers With A Mission for City Union Mission

Written by  March 31, 2004

When you think of homelessness in Kansas City, the first place you probably think of is the City Union Mission. Here are several good reasons why that is true:

They have served the poor and homeless in Kansas City for nearly 80 years.
They provide 200 beds for the homeless, making it the single largest source of homeless shelter in the four-state area.
An infirmary offering basic medical services.
They offer life skills classes.
The opening of the Vanderberg Youth Center.
They offer summer camps for youth.

The City Union Mission was opened on September 15, 1924 by Rev. and Mrs. David Barnhart Bulkley. It began as a gospel ministry and fed homeless men. During the holiday season of 1928, an estimated 1000 to 2000 men, women and children were fed. Today, their mission is still the same – to be an evangelical Christian ministry committed to sharing the Gospel and meeting the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of men, women and children who are poor or homeless.

The Mission has almost 95 employees, both full and part-time. They receive no government support or United Way funding and depend completely on donations from individuals, groups, businesses, foundations and churches. Approximately 70 percent of the food distributed in their dining halls and food pantries are donated and nearly 69 percent of all money received goes towards program services. Programs include emergency help, long-term hope and opportunities for the future through their Christian Life Program, New Life Program, Transitional Living Program and Biblical Counseling.

The first Bikers With A Mission (BWAM) event was held on May 5, 1990 and raised $23,000 with pledges from 540 bikers. Last year, over 800 bikers attended. The Family Learning Center was opened in November 1993. Part of the funding for that project was from BWAM. BWAM has also funded a fully-equipped nursery and backyard play equipment.

Run for the Homeless sponsored by BWAM is held the first Sunday in May each year. This year, which marks the 15th year of the ride, will be held on May 2. Check in is from 9 a.m. to Noon. First place prize is two roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines. Over the last 14 years, bikers have raised over $400,000 for the Mission. The 100-mile ride starts in Belton, goes through Odessa, and ends at the Men's Center where there will be live Christian entertainment, food, and prizes. If you love to ride, join us and help make a difference! If you would rather volunteer at the event, contact the Volunteer Department by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (816) 329-1487. You can get involved year round by collecting much-needed items from their wish list.

The 80th Anniversary Celebration of the City Union Mission will be held on June 26, 2004 at the newly renovated Liberty Memorial Auditorium and lobby from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Their new book, “God’s Human Sparrows,” which shares stories and photos of people touched by the City Union Mission, will be available.

With our help, they can continue to provide a means for change among the poor and homeless of Kansas City. So where will you be on May 2? Riding for the homeless, of course. Hope to see you there.

Story by Margaret Liggett