How many organizations or companies can you name that have been around 119 years? You’d likely have to ask many persons before obtaining a valid answer.

Well, remember “Della Lamb Community Services (DLCS),” a 119-year-old organization that provides a network of services to move children and families from poverty toward an improved quality of life.

In 1997 a group of Methodist women established an organization, known as the Women’s Board of City Missions. The women’s first project was to form a Monday-through-Friday child-care program for working parents, predominantly Italian immigrant families in northeast Kansas City. That child care program opened with $65 and one child. The child-care program grew rapidly.

However, a fire destroyed the original location. Not to be thwarted the women’s organization united its efforts with other interested Methodists and in 1903 a large stone building was erected at 702 Admiral Blvd. It became known as the Institutional Methodist Church and Neighborhood House.

Because of reorganization by the Methodists in 1939, the Neighborhood House program came under the supervision of the Woman’s Division of Christian Service and renamed the Della C. Lamb Neighborhood House, It recognized Della C. Lamb, a longtime supporter of the organization, which pioneered many of the city’s first welfare programs, including housing for juvenile offenders until court action, an adoption center and night classes for adult education.

Other significant dates in Della Lamb history:

1961-62 – land was purchased in April ’61 at 500 Woodland. Construction began soon thereafter the new facility opened in ’62. Today, it continues to Della Lamb’s primary building and administrative offices.

1990 – Della C. Lamb Neighborhood House renamed Della Lamb Community Services.

1974 – Operation Santa Claus was created to provide low-income families with groceries to prepare a holiday dinner and toys/clothes for the children.

1974 – initiated youth recreational programs.

1980 – annual budget reached $1M for the first time.

1988 – Mabee Multpurpose Center opened just north of the main DLCS building. The Mabee Center included additional classrooms.

1992 – introduced Operation Thanksgiving to complement Operation Santa. Families are provided food items to make a great Thanksgiving dinner, including a frozen turkey, instant mashed potatoes, package of stuffing, gravy mix, canned vegetables and ingredients for a pie or cake. That first year 250 families participated.

1994 – began Adult Education and English as a Second Language program to serve a population which required improve language and reading skills to improve employment opportunities and self-sufficiency.

Late 1990s – developed and began tutoring programs.

1999 – recognizing that education is the best vehicle to combat poverty, DLCS established the first operating charter school in Missouri, serving nearly 500 kindergarten through 6th grade students.

2005 – administrative office and classrooms were constructed and opened on the north side of the main DLCS building.

2009 – Operation Thanksgiving and Operation Santa were now serving 1,700 each.

2011-12 – expanded charter school to include 7th and 8th grades.

2014 – formalized the Refuge Resettlement program and during the first 8 months resettled more than 75 persons.