Samantha's Corner - We Persist in Parking Cars and Offering Support

KCCI volunteer parking attendants at RenFest

A good friend once told me to be who I am, because that’s the only person I can truly be. I like that, and I like being authentic with others.

Since Labor Day weekend, the Kansas City Center for Inclusion (KCCI) has been staffing volunteers to help park cars at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, as I mentioned last month. RenFest runs through Oct. 14. What started out as a pretty light and easy task has become like playing Tetris as the vehicles just keep coming. But we are keeping our goal in mind: $14,000 at the end of the RenFest season. This is a great opportunity for us, and we are excited to be part of it. Thanks to everyone for chipping in.

The Center was also represented over the Labor Day weekend at the Missouri Gay Rodeo Association’s Show-Me State Rodeo in Cleveland, Missouri. I enjoyed having KCCI represented in three places at the same time, including our location at 39th and Main Streets.

KCCI hosted the NOH8 Campaign on Sept. 21. Jeff Parshley and Adam Bouska had already scheduled a photo shoot in Topeka, and they asked whether they could come back to the Center. I was pleased with the turnout.

A few things to add to your calendar:

National Coming Out Day is Thursday, Oct. 11. KCCI will be open during our normal hours, but we will make sure to be staffed up for support in case anyone needs it. Some take for granted the coming-out process; however, there are many individuals and community members who still face great uncertainty when they decide to take this step. We, as a community center, are there for them. And if we cannot help, we know people at PFLAG and GLSEN and Human Rights Campaign and other places that can help.

On Sunday, Oct. 21, we will be hosting another Pancake Breakfast. This event is sure to be crowd-pleaser, as was the last one. I may actually get some more griddle time this year (I spent most of the event cooking the eggs). It is set for brunch-time (10am to noon), so plan to come.

We have additional programming and outreach events that can be found on our website at

On Sept. 10, we took time to recognize National Suicide Awareness Day. This annual commemoration prompts us to remember those who have completed suicide in the past. This is a topic very dear to my heart – we have lost far too many great individuals to suicide. We have been working with the Trevor Project to build up momentum for potentially offering a hotline locally. (Calls from the greater Kansas City area are now routed to other regional hotlines.) I know I am not the only person to recognize this need.

Lastly, I will be traveling the last few days of September to represent the Center and Kansas City at the CenterLink’s Leadership Summit in Rochester, New York. This is a learning and development opportunity for LGBT community center CEOs, executive directors, and board leaders from across North America.

I look forward to sharing what I learn and hope to see you out and about. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

All my best,


Samantha Ruggles is the interim executive director of the Kansas City Center for Inclusion.

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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