Kansas City is a community with an essence of giving, a populace that acts when presented with a need, and a sodality that embodies lifting others up when they are down. Pair this with people willing to take a progressive approach in developing creative ways that honor the environment through the reuse of everyday materials, the repurposing of supplies, and the renewal of broken lives and the result would be Scraps KC, an organization that is the embodiment of fortitude and one that has had a profound effect on the community.
“Our purpose is renewing people, their spirit, their heart and their bodies.” —Brenda Mott, founder
Brenda Mott, a Johnson County resident, is a person who has always appreciated living a waste-free lifestyle. Growing up, Brenda’s parents, who survived the Depression, instilled a regime of preserving and reusing everything in efforts to get the most value. She carried this into adulthood becoming a teacher who saved money by shopping for supplies at the Children’s Museum of Kansas City Recycling Center. Within her thrifty nature, she also created a life of service, which is a guiding principle that her family encompassed by serving the homeless. This passion for educating and supporting others led her on a journey that would combine these wishes in a meaningful way that serves the community. Brenda wanted to create a place that not only inspires creativity but also provides a safe space where others could seek refuge. In September 2016 the right time had arrived, and Scraps KC was born.
What exactly is Scraps KC? The short answer would be that it is a place reminiscent of a quirky warehouse teeming with donated art and office supplies. A place where an educator with big ideas can have their dreams realized on a budget. A place where a Girl Scout troop can come and create art projects worthy of a gift exchange. But it is so much more than that. It is also a place that celebrates the environment by reducing waste through repurposing items—a place that educates others about the community and the unique needs of the homeless. Above all, it is a place that redefines what it means to give back to others through real-life project-based learning that enriches the lives of both the patrons and the displaced.
It is a pay-it-forward playhouse. By hosting low cost “crafternoons” for kids, providing summer art camps for teens, as well as having an expansive resource center where the community can explore office and creative supplies, Scraps KC can teach others about how they can help, but it also helps fund their organization. Through this funding, they can offer food, clothing and a place inside from the sometimes unforgiving elements to people who may feel as if the world has forgotten them. The homeless help keep Scraps KC going by donating their time cleaning, assisting and helping manage the supplies in exchange for a meal, a conversation or a listening ear.
“It is a place free of judgment. People come in because they want a warm place and someone to love them,” Brenda says. “Our primary mission is to work with them and to lift them up so they can thrive.”
The Scraps KC experience is a cyclical one that moves through the creative process—to environmental education, to homeless education, to a purpose-driven life. Brenda hopes that by teaching and feeding she can build and keep relationships and that these relationships will extend far beyond the community. She looks in the future and sees a community garden, a playground and even an event space that can be used to host even larger projects. She hopes that many more people will come to 12th Street to learn.
How can the public get involved? Currently, Scraps KC receives about 2,000 pounds weekly from community manufacturers, designers, architectural design firms and businesses who are often rebranding or downsizing scrap materials, but there is always room for more. Anyone who has fabric supplies, knitting materials or arts and crafts provisions are welcome to donate. At this time, the greatest need is in used school supplies that can be cleaned and redistributed. This supply drive successfully gifted 101 underserved classrooms in 2017 with more than 12,000 supplies. Brenda hopes to surpass this goal and encourages people to donate as well as volunteer this summer to sort and clean through supplies. This is a great opportunity for area schools to consider as the school year winds down. Visit ScrapsKC.org for more details.