Spire funds new community kitchen in Independence, MO

Community kitchen will help new homeowners experience cooking nutritious meals

Image of Spire employees at community event

Caption: Shaylyn Dean and Steve Mills pose with a portrait of school founder EH Young.

Steve Mills, vice president and general manager in western Missouri, and Shaylyn Dean, director, external affairs, were both in attendance as Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity hosted a dedication of their new headquarters and Homeownership and Opportunity Center at the newly remodeled historic Hiram Young School in Independence, MO last week.

The school, which was established by EH (Hiram) Young in 1874 and moved to its current location in 1934, was the first all-black school west of the Mississippi River. Young, who was born enslaved, became a successful businessman, bought freedom for himself and his family and was a strong supporter of education for African-Americans.

Now, the building will provide new opportunities for participants in the Habitat for Humanity homeownership program to attend classes focused on successfully owning and maintaining a home. It will also serve as a community gathering place, with spaces for local organizations or businesses to use, a museum to highlight the building’s unique history, and a space for events. The Life Skills Center in the Gymnasium will be available for the community to reserve for trainings, workshops, cooking classes and more.

Spire provided a $50,000 financial contribution to the project to update the onsite kitchen. The Spire Community Kitchen includes modern gas appliances and will serve as a gathering place for new homeowners and others to hone their culinary skills and cook nutritious meals while experiencing the convenience, reliability and affordability of natural gas.  

Dean, who serves on the board of directors for Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity shared his personal story of involvement in the project, initially to help acquire rebates for the project, but eventually to see if Spire could provide even more help. Mills highlighted the historic nature of the project and the significance of the kitchen to the community. Alumni were also in attendance and shared special memories of the kitchen as a place to gather and connect.

Image of Spire employee at community event

Caption: Shaylyn Dean in the Spire Community Kitchen.

Truman Habitat for Humanity is still moving into the facility and will host a ribbon cutting to officially open for business in July.