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Immacolata Manor Looks Forward to Over the Next Hill

Written by  June 3, 2004

For those of you that don’t know about Immacolata Manor, let me tell you about how they started and what they do today. The Manor is situated on 37 acres and was purchased in 1981 by a group called “Friends of the Handicapped.” It was then that the Manor was established as a home for women with developmental disabilities, with the Benedictine Sisters of Kansas City as the caretakers. The Sisters managed the home until they retired in 1997, and their work is now carried on by a non-profit agency, under the direction of a volunteer board of directors and a full-time professional staff.

Immacolata currently provides residential services to 27 women. Their focus is on the values and principles of community membership, self-determination, human rights, and basic needs, so that the women will be supported and empowered to achieve their highest potential and to live their lives with dignity and respect. The Residential Program offers permanent housing to women with 24-hour staff support.

In 1998, the Board of Directors, staff, residents and families formulated a five-year Strategic Plan that included the development of “My Day” and the construction of four new wheelchair-accessible homes onsite. While the new homes were being constructed, three other buildings on the property were renovated to maximize their usefulness.

Today, 24 women live onsite in five houses, and three live in a house in the community – an Individualized Supported Living. The new, smaller homes provide a sense of individuality, and the ladies are very proud of having their own homes. They enjoy inviting family, friends and coworkers over for dinner and parties, and have developed a sense of ownership for homes they now truly consider their own. Between four to six women live in each house, and form a family unit, in which they participate in making decisions together.

The My Day program was created in 2000, and serves both Manor residents as well as individuals from other homes or agencies. The onsite program opened with eight attendees from the Manor residential program, and within three years had more than doubled the number of participants. Most of the ladies have capabilities far beyond what some might expect, and the goal of the staff is to develop those skills and help the ladies achieve their highest potential.

If you’re wondering what you can do to help, there are many volunteer opportunities available at Immacolata Manor. From helping with special events and maintaining the grounds to working directly with the ladies. In August of 2003, a volunteer organization called The Manor Link, was founded and is made up of current and previous employees, family members and individuals from the community. The Manor Link’s mission is to support the Manor through increased community awareness, special events and service. They meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. in the Main House dining room. Members usually bring a pot luck dish and the meeting is held along with dinner. So far they have planned events such as a music festival, a Valentine’s Day Bowl-a-thon and building a float for the Snake Saturday (St. Patrick’s Day) Parade. More plans are in the works, and new members are always welcome. For more information, contact Susanna Vogt, Development Director at (816) 781-4332, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Of course, help with fundraising is always needed. About 72 percent of the Manor’s funding comes from state government, through the Department of Mental Health. The Thrift Shop and general donations make up the rest. Of all the donations received in 2003, 91 percent went directly into the programs, with only nine percent toward administrative overhead. That is phenomenal!

Their goals for the future include building an endowment for Immacolata Manor, and increasing the sources of income outside the state. But for now, funding is needed for the In-Hospital Support Program and for the purchase of new vehicles, and for the maintenance of the older ones.

Janey's Over The Next Hill Motorcycle Ride is held each year in June, and raises a substantial amount of money for the Manor. Earlier funds were used to build the four single-level houses for the residents with physical disabilities. Construction began in the winter 2001 and the ladies moved in soon after the 2002 ride. Fundraising efforts for 2003 helped buy a newer used minivan. This year, they plan to use funds to help with the ladies’ medical expenses and to provide the extra staff needed when a resident requires hospitalization or other long-term medical care.

In 2003, the ride became known as Janey’s Over The Next Hill Ride. It was a combined effort, on the part of two motorcycle enthusiast families, to mold two benefit rides into one. Jeff and Kevin felt they needed to give back to the community and what better way to do that than to memorialize their parents with a motorcycle ride. The ride is in honor of Janey Heishman, Jeff’s mother and owner of Liberty Cycle Center and Robert Broderick, Kevin’s father and volunteer at Immacolata Manor.

The 5th Annual Janey's Over the Next Hill Ride for Immacolata Manor will be held on Sunday, June 27. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. Enjoy live music and see the Midwest Stunters perform. Riders will leave together at 12:30 p.m. from the old courthouse in historic Liberty, Missouri downtown square and wind through country roads before ending at Immacolata Manor.

Every rider that registers gets a ride patch, t-shirt and a chance to win a 2004 Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom Sportster. It has been custom painted and has lots of extras thanks to ride sponsors.

There will be lots of prizes and awards for the top pledge fundraisers, the top three bike show winners in three different categories, the 50-50 drawing winner, high and low dice roll winners, and door prizes.

They are counting on us to help the ladies at Immacolata Manor. We've all got to keep going...we never know what we'll find Over The Next Hill.

Margaret Liggett