Welcome to the Westside Community Action Network (CAN) Center’s web site. Our mission is to facilitate the creation of a safe, healthy, viable, civically-engaged neighborhood in which to live, play and work.
The Westside Community Action Network (CAN) Center has been serving the community since 1994 and received our 501.c.3 tax-exempt status in 1995. We specialize in programs that facilitate our mission.
The Westside CAN Center houses a property maintenance code enforcement officer from Kansas City's Neighborhood Preservation Division, two police officers and a neighborhood specialist. These representatives partner with residents and neighborhood leaders to improve the livability of the neighborhood. The CAN center concept was developed as part of Kansas City’s Community Policing Initiative. Our wide range of partnerships have included: Westside Housing Organization, Guadalupe Center, Inc., El Centro, Inc., City of Kansas City, MO, Kansas City Public Library, Mattie Rhodes Center, Westside Lions Club, Local Initiative Support Corporation, Kansas City Neighborhood Alliance, Probation and Parole, Division of Family Services, Mana de Kansas City, COMBAT, KCMO - Health Department, Hispanic Economic Development Corporation and the business community.
We invite you to discover our neighborhood and learn about our programs as well as other activities.
Find out why we say THE WESTSIDE THE BESTSIDE.
Feel free to browse around this site. If you have comments or questions about our programs or simply need more information and want to contact us, click on the contact button on any page within this site.
Thanks for visiting and we look forward to serving you.
The Westside Community Action Network Center, Inc. (WCAN Center) incorporated in 1995 as a 501.c.3 neighborhood and community policing organization serves Kansas City’s Westside. Designed to be 'triage' for disengaged, disenfranchised neighborhoods in distress, CAN Centers, a community policing concept, were implemented to address escalating crime and disorder issues in the 1990’s. Neighborhood serving agencies, business and residents work collaboratively to address disorder, distress and issues in keeping with the tenets of the "Broken Window Theory" which says early signs of neighborhood deterioration escalate quickly into increased crime and blight.
The GKC Chamber of Commerce and the GKC Community Foundation were instrumental in bringing the CAN Center concept to Kansas City. The CAN Center concept empowers neighborhoods to determine the priorities; therefore, the WCAN Center is administered by a Steering Committee made up of residents, and representatives from neighborhood businesses and neighborhood serving agencies. In 2000, initial funding was identified to hire 5 year volunteer, Lynda Callon as a full time staff person. Blight and crime go hand in hand therefore two KCPD Police officers and a KCMO Neighborhood Preservation/ Property Maintenance Codes Inspector are assigned to the WCAN Center. We successfully improve the physical image, reduce blight and crime through ongoing neighborhood maintenance, prevention, enforcement and community bonding activities.
Success has increased civic engagement, pride of place and personal responsibility. Supervised activities for youth during non-school hours are key to crime prevention and we co-initiated a collaboration of residents, youth servicing agencies to develop and implement activities and experiences. The development and management of a immigrant day laborer center has reduced crime by over 50% and measurably improved the quality of life. The re-situating of the day laborers from the Summit Street/Southwest Blvd. corridor has created an inviting environment for economic development and investment (Central Bank of KC, Romo Bros. LLC).
Statement from Lynda Callon, Previous CEO/Executive Director
In 1994, Westsiders were excited to have a neighborhood organization addressing quality of life issues yet they just didn't want the police or property maintenance codes officers. In 1994, residents would not talk directly to police officers. Neighbors did not call the police and if they did, they would not fill out police reports. Children were disrespectful to and feared law enforcement. The relationship with the Police Department was tense, distrustful and filled with animosity. Today, youth participate in a junior police academy; neighbors drop in to talk to the officers, report crimes or suspicious behavior and are willing to fill out police reports. For over 40 years, immigrant men gathered at Southwest Boulevard/Summit waiting for work. The numbers were increasing dramatically and it had become chaos. Traditional law enforcement approaches failed. In 2002-03 we secured in-kind donations valued at over $150,000.00 to rehabilitate a turn-of-the century, vacant, blighted building located at a neighborhood gateway intersection.
On March 1, the laborers were re-situated to the new site, at 2136 Jefferson Street, where we could fully implement the Day Laborer program. This program serves a minimum of 2000 day laborers/month (60-90 men per day, Monday-Saturday.) Westside businesses report a 30% plus transaction increase. Crime decreased well over 50%. We have a neighborhood bank because, as Bill Dana, President of Central Bank of Kansas City stated, “Southwest Boulevard seemed to be an inviting and safe place to do business.”
New immigrants are being successfully and productively assimilated into the community. Long standing problems of loitering, public drunkenness, and crime have been largely solved. We promote and foster personal responsibility, accountability, civic engagement; assemble partners; form creative collaborations to resolve the above problem and an array of other issues with a comprehensive, holistic problem-solving approach, all to make the Westside the Bestside.
Statement from Ezekiel Amador III, Board Chair/President
I was compelled to be an active volunteer on the WCAN Center when I moved back to Kansas City. I was amazed and impressed with the remarkable changes I was seeing in my home neighborhood. Not only the physical environment was changing but there were changes in attitudes and a different sense of identity and pride of place. “The Westside The Bestside!” I immediately wanted to be part of the group that was affecting these kinds of changes and in a sustainable manner the quality of life while maximizing my personal time and resources. Over the years, we have championed the issues in our community that have fallen through the cracks. We have identified issues; initiated a planning process; researched solutions; formulated and executed a plan thereby continuing to solve these issues.
We are proud that we were recognized when Kansas City was honored with the 2006 All American Cities Award. Congresswoman Hilda Solis stated that the Westside CAN Center should be held up as a national model. Police Chief Corwin recognized the Westside CAN Center in the international publication of Police Chief Magazine. Our goal is to develop a strategic plan for our next decade as needs of our community and constituency evolves. We are looking for partners and investors in facilitating our future successes. The return on that investment is a healthy, viable, civically -engaged neighborhood adding value to Kansas City’s marketability as a diverse place to live, work, and do business. Thank you.
Geographic Areas Served
Jackson County, Jackson County Urban Core, Westside Neighborhood boundaries are North 12th Street, South 31st Street, East: west side of Broadway, West: Stateline Road
Awards & Acknowledgments
Lynda Callon awarded the James I. Threatt Courage Award, News from City Hall City Communications Office, City of Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 13, 2013.
2009 Alvin Brooks Award is presented to an outstanding community leader (Kansas City Crime Commission)
2008 Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Award - Local Hero, Bank of America - Lynda Callon
Herman Goldstein Award - Submission, Link
2006 All American Cities Award featured agency, Link
April 2006 International Police Chief’s Magazine, Article by Police Chief James D. Corwin, Link
Kansas City Missouri Public Library/Ruiz Branch, Mattie Rhodes Center; Guadalupe Center, Inc.; El Centro, Inc.; City of Kansas City, MO (Police Department, Neighborhood and Community Services, Parks and Recreation, & Health Department); KCMO Public Library; Family Conservancy/Focus Center; 6 CAN centers; KC Free Health Clinic; St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry at Sacred Heart Church; KC Rescue Mission, CampFire USA, Jackson County COMBAT, KC Riverfront Heritage Trail, Inc., Kansas City Neighborhood Alliance, Rosedale Development Corporation, Carpenter’s Union, Kansas City Employment Justice Program. U.S. Dept. of Labor/Wage and Hour Division, Westside Lions Club, Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Westside Housing Organization, Hispanic Economic Development Corporation, KCMO - Health Department, Cabot Westside Health Center.