Kansas City nonprofit using generator to keep doors open after KCP&L turns off electricity

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- “It’s a major distraction for us, and it comes at a time when the community really needs us,” said a disappointed Father Justin Mathews, the executive director at Reconciliation Services.

For the last 30 years, the nonprofit has served as a refuge at the corner of 31st Street and Troost Avenue. Mathews said the nonprofit's daily goal is to help the working poor, the homeless, the unemployed and many others with who need food and critical social services.

“Anybody can come here for assistance," he said. "This is not us doing something for people. This is a village helping each other."

Mathews said last Monday his staff and volunteers were helping people in need when all of a sudden everyone was in the dark.

“The electricity just went out," he said. "We had elderly grandparents, volunteers on the fourth floor. We had folks in the Reconciliation Services Cafe at the time. We also had to carefully get people from the darkness safely down the stairwell."

“Anybody that was scheduled to be here for getting documents and assistance for IDs, rent or utility -- we were unable to help them, “ said Jodi Mathews, the agency’s communications manager.

Mathews and his wife said without warning on a bitter cold afternoon last Monday, Kansas City Power & Light shut off all power to a vacant building next door to their nonprofit -- a building that shared Reconciliation Services’ electrical line.

“Our power is not cut because of the condition of our building," Mathews said. "Our power is being cut because the fire department has deemed our neighbor’s building 'dangerous.' I can’t be closed right now. People -- it’s the holidays, and it’s cold outside -- and the people, they need Reconciliation Services, “ Mathews said.

In the meantime, the nonprofit is renting a huge generator that sits outside just to keep the lights on at its cafe and in handful of offices on the second floor.

“We really cannot afford that generator," Mathews said. "It costs at least $1,000 a week on running time, and we’re using it on faith."

In a statement sent to FOX 4, KCP&L said in part, “Safety is always our top priority.”

A spokesman for the utility company also said, “We have been and continue to work with Reconciliation Services to assist as we can with their needs.”

Mathews also said fully restoring the power and upgrading their electrical system is estimated to cost $75,000 and could take several weeks before their building is back to normal. He also said KCP&L has made a significant donation to help with the expenses.

“It’s not just Reconciliation Services that’s shut down," Mathews said. "It’s also our whole church, which is on the third and fourth floors of our building. We will keep going. I have faith we’re gonna be back on our feet soon. I’m praying for the help of the community because we cannot shoulder this burden alone."

For more information on how you can help the agency get its power fully restored, just go to Reconciliation Services’ website.