High crime rates. Low housing values. These systemic issues can feel impossible to solve. But Bobbi Jo Reed of Healing House has tackled them, almost accidentally, in her once-crime-ridden neighborhood in Northeast Kansas City.
Bobbi Jo never set out to transform her community. Twenty years ago, after she had found her own healing from addiction, she simply started taking small steps to help others find freedom. What began as a ministry to help individuals find spiritual and emotional healing has now spread to an entire community.
Soon after gaining sobriety, Bobbi Jo returned to her detox center, this time to bless others. She gave away small hygiene items and sold baked goods.
“You would have thought I was giving people gold,” she told Faith Horizons. “It sparked something in me. I got to sit there and talk to them and tell them what was happening in my life. At first, I did it because it made me feel good. But then it just became the next right thing to do.”
Bobbi Jo kept taking steps to serve others. Upon receiving an inheritance from her parents, she used the funds to purchase a vacant nursing home. She invited ten women in addiction recovery to live in the home. As those women healed from addiction, Bobbi Jo started receiving requests from others who wanted help. So she purchased an abandoned apartment building. As the operation grew, she started a nonprofit, Healing House, which is now a full-fledged recovery campus with 14 houses and 30 apartments housing over 200 people in recovery.
“I see people come in, and there’s no light behind their eyes,” Bobbi Jo told Faith Horizons. “They’re spiritually and almost physically dead sometimes. Then you get them new clothes, a good night’s rest, and food in their tummy, and before you know it, the light starts coming on very dimly. Within a week or two, they’re shining brightly. And then eventually, you can see the Holy Spirit shining through. I get to live around miracles every day.”
Over the years, as Healing House served its residents, the surrounding neighborhood slowly transformed. Crime rates and drug use decreased, businesses started moving in, and housing prices soared. Now 20 years later, many of her properties are worth four or five times more than she originally paid.
“You can feel the Lord’s presence,” Bobbi Jo told Faith Horizons. “I’ve almost worked myself out of business.”
Bobbi Jo gives credit to God for the nonprofit’s growth and neighborhood transformation. “I’m not a businessperson,” Bobbi Jo told Faith Horizons. “I am a servant of God. This whole thing is not Bobbi Jo’s or Healing House’s. It is God’s.”
To Transform a Community
Bobbi Jo started with a heart to serve individuals and allowed God to lead the process, and that goal remains the same. As much as Healing House has transformed the neighborhood, the ministry’s goal has always been to love people.
“I don’t care what you did yesterday,” Bobbi Jo tells those in recovery. “I don’t care what you’ve done in your past. You’re here today. And that’s all that matters to me. And I’m going to love you till you can love yourself.”
Lower crime rates and higher home values are simply a by-product of spiritual, physical, and emotional healing. To transform a community, start with individuals.
Find out more about Healing House at healinghousekc.org.