KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Serve. That’s her favorite word, and she does it with an open heart.
Pastor Cassandra Wainright serves the people of Kansas City and relies on her faith in God to get the work done.
Even bundled up on a cold winter day, Wainright feels an instant warmth.
“When you love what you do, and for me there’s such great fulfillment in being able to serve,” she said.
The pastor at Calvary Temple Baptist Church has been working in Kansas City for more than 60 years.
“I would say so for as long as I was able to do so, it has been a life of service,” she said.
She just wants others to know there are people out there who care, and she has a strong way of showing it.
“We do it across the street at the Calvary Community Outreach Network or the Wellness Center that’s located on 30th and Holmes,” Wainright said.
She’s talking about the food distribution drive, held on the fourth Thursday of every month. Boxes of food are stacked up, and cars are lined down the street ready to receive.
The organization has been helping since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“People were coming by our door, and our wellness facility was closed due to COVID,” Wainright said. “And people were still knocking on our doors trying to see if we had food to give, if we had water to provide.”
Working closely with Calvary Temple Baptist Church, Harvesters Food Network and other local churches and organizations, Wainright and volunteers fill trucks full of food and supplies.
“Many express the need that they have, the gratitude that they have,” she said.
They stack up hot meals and give hope to families in Kansas City.
“We serve the homeless communities as well, and so it has been a sheer blessing,” Wainright said.
When she’s not feeding people, she’s trying to save them.
“My passion is violence prevention,” she said. “I’m tired of seeing the homicides. I’m tired of seeing families impacted by gun violence and other acts of crime around our city.”
In 2018, she helped organize the Lights On KC initiative to keep kids off the street. Each month, they provide recreational activities and free food.
The program had to stop because of the COVID pandemic, but Wainright is excited it will start again in April.
“She has been an inspiration to me because she sees needs and acts on them,” said Michelle Stitt, board member for Calvary Community Outreach Network. “She’s one of those rare people who is a hearer and doer. When she hears something that needs to be done, she’s there doing it.”
She also helped create HIV/AIDS education awareness programs for the Black community in Kansas City.
“There were so many churches and the community as well that moved into the area of stigmatizing those who were living with HIV,” Wainright said.
She’s a wife, a mother of eight, a grandmother to many — but she’s determined to keep changing lives in Kansas City for the better.
“We feel that there is a calling and compelling, if you will, for us to serve our community in whatever way God opens the door for us to do that,” Wainright said. “And though it may be tiring, it may be overwhelming at times, there is such great satisfaction.”
And she said as long as God allows her the physical and mental strength, she won’t stop.
“You know, you don’t really think about how great the impact is and how significant the work you’re doing,” Wainright said. “You just do it because this is what you’ve been called to do.”
And all this and more is why she’s a remarkable woman.
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