Executive Update

A Piece for the Poor, Shackled, and Downtrodden

Our lives are like fluid art, sometimes turbulent, colorful, and precise when we are guided, and always one-of-a-kind originals. I never expected to move to Kansas City, become the Program Director for Community Action Agency of Greater Kansas City, let alone become the CEO, but life can take us through and to some very unique experiences. Although I never envisioned this path of human service, I am grateful for the opportunities afforded me.

I wasn’t born when Community Action was started in 1964, an initiative of President Lyndon B. Johnson to “fight the war on poverty”, and although I grew up “poor” I didn’t know it, I felt rich. The abundance of love in my home growing up more than made up for our lack of monetary wealth. I would later find out my life had been economically measured as poor. I begged to differ because the environment of my home was so nourishing I never knew lack, even if established poverty guidelines said differently. My thinking had not been shaped and molded into a pattern of lack, immobility, or defeat.

Fifty years ago, I didn’t know the definition of poverty nor did I identify with it. I identified with my surroundings, which were full of life, appreciation, and gratitude. I woke up every day thinking about the possibilities life held. I studied and was guided in painting the picture I wanted to see in my life. I made a broad stroke for success and now I’m able to help others reach for success, that’s empowering, that’s the power of mindset.

The year 2024 marks Community Action’s 60th birthday and I’m glad to be a part of the celebration. I’m not celebrating poverty, I’m celebrating lives changed, homes repaired both literally and figuratively, and dreams full of promise. I get to be a part of the celebration for a legacy that has made an impact on countless lives. Have we won the war on poverty? Certainly not, but we have enabled families to stay together, kept hope alive for those who felt there was no hope, and caused those who yearned for a better life to find a pathway to their success.

Look at life’s circumstances like a big block of hard wood, gather your tools, be it information, education, or instruction, then use your tools to whittle your way around obstacles, set-backs, disappointments, and so-on until your change comes. I believe if you set your eyes on the prize you’ll achieve it in due time.

Community Action will be here to help guide you along the way, and together, I believe we can carve out beautiful lives from poverty for the next 60 years to come. I’ll keep whittling on my end and as a collective organization, we’ll keep making an impact. Stay posted on our website to find out how we’re celebrating 60 years of community service.

Clifton Campbell
Executive Director