Mattie Florence Rhodes was a teenager who worked for the less fortunate with a group of her friends from church called the Little Gleaners. Mattie was only 19 when she died of typhoid fever in 1890, leaving $500.00 to her friends to continue their work with children. The Little Gleaners honored Mattie’s wish in 1894 by founding the Mattie Rhodes Memorial Society. This was their pledge:
“I promise to do all I can to help the needy and suffering by working for them, learning about them, giving for them, and trying to interest others in them.”
In the early years, the agency provided day care for children of working mothers and basic necessities for poor families. During the Great Depression, Mattie Rhodes Memorial Society provided shelter and basic necessities to those facing hardship by operating a settlement house for children, single mothers, homeless individuals, and the elderly. Based on a community needs assessment in the 1950s, Mattie Rhodes Center began offering mental health and social services programs. Beginning in the late 1980s, in response to a growing need for mental health and social services for Spanish-speakers, Mattie Rhodes Center began hiring bilingual therapists and case managers. The Mattie Rhodes Art Center was also established in the late 1980s, followed by the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery in 1999.
Today, the Mattie Rhodes Center is proud to continue her legacy in our 120th year of meeting community needs through our specialized services reaching Kansas City’s most vulnerable populations. We envision a community where individuals and families are healthy, safe and have the resources to thrive. Our mission is to enrich the lives of individuals, families, and communities, in a respectful, multicultural environment. Mattie Rhodes Center accomplishes this mission through targeted services in the following four areas:
- Family Services and Support (mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse)
- Youth Services (in-school intervention, youth development, supportive living)
- Community Support (health and wellness, community engagement)
- Cultural Arts (arts education, exhibits and collections)
Mattie Rhodes Center is the only community-based, fully-bilingual/bicultural certified behavioral health care provider that is both nationally accredited and state certified in the Greater Kansas City area. The agency is committed to diversity and inclusion, and celebrates the many ways culture enriches society. Mattie Rhodes Center is certified by the Missouri Department of Mental Health in intensive outpatient substance abuse therapy, and is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation. We are a provider agency for the Jackson County Mental Health Community Fund, a member of the United Way, and an affiliate of the National Council of La Raza.
Together with the Greater Kansas City community, we look forward to a bright future in which every individual and family has the resources to reach their full potential. We will continue partnering with community members, community groups and community leaders to realize the original goal of Mattie Florence Rhodes’ initial pledge to “do all that we can for the needy and suffering.”