Since 1870, we've served the changing needs of the Kansas City children and families.
Our mission is to help at-risk children and families reach their potential through education, counseling, and social services.
The vision of Gillis is that all children and families will live in emotionally stable, safe and nurturing environments.
Gillis...Serving Children & Families Since 1870
Renovate a Room. Renovate a Life.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Over the last 86 years, the Gillis intensive residential program has provided a home to more than 4,000 boys. Throughout our history in serving these desperate children, these cottages have come to need some serious rehabbing. Several individual donors just like you have already stepped up to make that change.

We know that physical living space truly makes a significant difference in how the children receive their time in treatment, so we not only want to renovate these rooms we want these renovations to have a direct impact on these children’s lives. When they come to Gillis, they will see a beautiful room, complete with beautiful walls; new, comfortable, kid-friendly beds, posters and decorations along with a complete, matching bed set that will be theirs to take with them when they go.

When children come to Gillis we want them to find love and acceptance – for most the first time they’ve felt these emotions. We want them to have an experience that they’ve never had: Something that has been created for them. Just them.

We are still in need of help to ensure the completion of this project! Contact Jennifer Hurst,

at Jennifer.Hurst@gillis.org for information on how you can help.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Gillis board of directors, Gillis staff and Cornerstones of Care are pleased to announce Stephen O’Neill as the President and CEO of Gillis. Stephen brings with him over 10 years of experience providing and managing a spectrum of social work services including: mental health, substance abuse, housing, case management and residential treatment.

Stephen is a mission driven leader who believes that the key to creating innovative and impactful services is to allow service participants, families, staff and the community, etc. to participate in the process of generating ideas and designing service delivery systems. He believes that the organizations who find success in the future will be those organizations that are able to think in terms of what isn’t or might be rather than what is.

"I am very pleased to welcome Stephen O'Neill to the Gillis team, and believe he will bring strong leadership, energy, and empathy to the children and families we serve in our community" said Cindy Mahoney, chairman of the Gillis board of directors.


O’Neill began his new role as President and CEO on May 20. Gillis supporters are cordially invited to tour the Gillis campus and meet our newPresident and CEO. If you would like to set up a tour, please contact Gillis at 816-508-3500.

Centurions Gift Gillis with a new Deck
Thursday, May 01, 2014

Members of the Greater Kansas City Chamber Commerce’s Centurions leadership program are leaving a lasting impression on not only the children living at Gillis today but those who will live at Gillis in the future through their legacy program. The Centurions built a custom deck on the historic Gillis campus large enough to accommodate 20 children at once. The deck will be completed on April 26th with custom landscaping and a new barbeque grill.

Cody, a 14 year old boy living at Gillis, shared his excitement about learning how to grill a hot dog alongside a Centurion volunteer, "I always wanted to know how to do that!" Centurion volunteers are teaching Gillis children how to have fun outside and grill a hotdog while helping them to find new hope for their future. Gillis Volunteer Manager, Jennifer Hurst, shared that "the quality time and attention that the Centurion volunteers gave our kids was the biggest gift of all from the legacy project. The volunteers created great memories for our children.

Since 1976, the Centurions Leadership Program has earned a reputation as an unequaled training ground for future Kansas City leaders. The mission of Centurions is to prepare a representative cross-section of the community's emerging leaders for their role in shaping the future of greater Kansas City. The Legacy Project is a tradition Centurions began in 2007 to leave a lasting impact on the greater Kansas City community.

Gillis Home - My Home by Robert E. Winger
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A past Gillis resident named Robert Winger recently sent us a letter about his time here at Gillis. Robert lived at Gillis from 1937-1946 and since leaving Gillis spent 7 years preparing for the Christian Ministries and 52 years as a Pastor. His story takes us back in time to a Gillis after the Great Depression. We are so happy to hear the years he spent at Gillis had such a positive impact on his life. Thanks Robert for sharing your story!
Would you believe me if I told you I have about eighty brothers and sisters? Probably not. However, that’s what I often tell people. The truth is I only had one real brother. However, because my parents were not physically or financially able to care for me, I grew up at Gillis Home. I came to Gillis at the end of the Great Depression and lived there during all of World War II. When my brother came back from the war in 1946 he became by guardian. As a child at Gillis I was never without friends. I fondly remember the names of many, some with whom I still keep in touch.
When I arrived at Gillis Home, in 1937, the beautiful and spacious grounds were attractive and inviting. Gillis was operated by the Women’s Christian Association, and was located just outside the city limits of Kansas City, Missouri. The home began in 1870 and was originally located at 8thand Troost, and was moved in 1927 to the present location at 8150 Wornall Road, South of Waldo. Transportation was convenient from anywhere in KC by way of the historic Country Club and Dodson street car lines.
On the grounds four beautiful and modern brick buildings were built to care for the growing number of needy children in the Kansas City area. The first building housed the administration offices and contained three stories with living quarters for the superintendent and staff, the infirmary and dental office and laundry room. This building also included a very large meeting room with a stage where all of the children would gather for special events which were held often throughout the year. They provided wonderful programs for our entertainment as well as religious services and a variety of other activities.
All of the children lived in three huge cottages on the circle drive. The outside appearance of these cottages was identical. They were two stories high and housed about 25 children in each one. The Central Cottage was reserved for the very young children. The older girls lived in the East Cottage and the older boys lived in the West Cottage. The main floor of each cottage had a foyer, kitchen and dining room, library with study tables, a family room with comfortable furniture and a very large general-purpose recreational room with a fireplace and an attached portico. There were two very large dormitory rooms on either end of the second floor, where we slept and kept our few personal possessions in a small locker. Our cottage housemother had her living quarters between the dormitories and was always available.
We were all well fed and clothed, had good health and dental care, lots of opportunities for play and exercise. We took trips to the zoo, art gallery, circus and had many other special activities. We attended the public schools and local churches in the area. Community organizations and philanthropic individuals shared with us. We were able to participate in far more activities than thousands of other children who were not blessed by living at Gillis Home.

I am and always will be grateful that MY HOME was GILLIS HOME!
Comfort Room
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Some students struggle with sensory overload which leads to a state of severe agitation and anxiety and of course can impact academic success. Aware of this issue and its impact on classroom success, Gillis School Director, Pam Sanders, began to seek a solution. She discovered that research suggests that sensory activities such as rocking in a chair and drawing can combat this issue. Sensory activities help students better comprehend their environment, develop and engage new neural pathways in the brain, increase body awareness, and develop language. Thus, the Comfort Room was born in the Gillis School. To help students find school success, they are now offered a visit to the Comfort Room to help gain composure and to avoid any crisis behavior. Many have already found that this is the one thing that really helps them refocus and we can see this impact in their learning. The room includes an oversized soft chair that rocks, a CD player with head phones, bean bag chairs, journaling and art supplies, yoga mats, nature and relaxation CD’s, scenic posters on the walls, a large comfortable rug, an aromatherapy diffuser kit, and a sound machine. A special thank you to our donors who supplied the necessary items for the Comfort Room.
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Get your tickets for the Victor & Penny and Foes of Folly benefit concert today. Click here for more details!
JM Neil Chili Cookoff benefiting Gillis is October 11th. Enter today!
Interested in volunteering at Gillis? Click here to learn more about our current opportunities.
Campus-Based Treatment
When provided a structured environment with safety, boundaries and compassion, our troubled boys can work to overcome the trauma in their pasts. Confident that they are safe and cared for, the boys learn to trust again. Our hope is that through healing therapies, each of the boys will be able to live in a loving home where he can flourish.
Community-Based Intensive Family Counseling
These programs increase opportunities for children, youth and families to improve and strengthen relationships that will have a positive impact on their lives athome, school and in the community. Each of the programs offered represents a blend of therapeutic interventions to meet the unique needs of each individual and family served.
School-Based Day Treatment
Students in Gillis Day Treatment School have an opportunity to experience success in a classroom setting. Educational services at Gillis are integrated with a comprehensive plan of care that includes pre-vocational or vocational skills development, and activity services such as art, music and recreation.
Community-Based Social Services
Historically, children coming into contact with the child welfare system for abuse and/or neglect were often removed from their parents care and placed in foster care. With proper support and education, many of these children can remain with or be reunited with their parents or caregiver.