Business Leaders in Urban Core Support Healthy Kansas City Eastside

Co-founder of The Porter House KC, Daniel Smith, among
those hosting COVID vaccination events

“Our Healthy KC Eastside” (OHKCE) is a large-scale, community-based partnership addressing COVID-19 vaccinations and health inequities in vulnerable areas of Jackson County, Mo. Meet the community partners who are dedicated to improving Jackson County’s residents’ lives.

Daniel Smith, co-founder and principal of The Porter House KC, a co-working community that provides resources for business creation to underserved communities in Kansas City, is dedicated to building a healthy and thriving urban core.

Light from his storefront windows flood his space near 18th and Vine as he explains why he is part of Our Healthy KC Eastside, and the importance of Kansas City’s communities becoming vaccinated against COVID-19. UMKC’s Jannette Berkley Patton, Ph.D., who is heading the project, approached Smith to convene business leaders in the community to see if they would support the endeavor.

“It’s not unusual to see the church communities and neighborhoods involved in community health projects like this, but as business leaders we felt it was important to do what we could to support vaccination efforts in the neighborhood,” Smith says.

Once Smith agreed to be involved, he began to have conversations with fellow business owners.

“Business owners are used to people approaching them for financial support, but this was different,” Smith says. “We just wanted to talk about whether or not they agreed with the need and necessity of vaccination education. From there, we began to talk about spreading the word and hosting events.”

Smith met with the Heartland Black Chamber and other area businesses.

“They all said, ‘Yes.’ They agreed it was needed and necessary and that we could count on their support.”

 Smith says it’s been a whirlwind since then. OHKCE produced T-shirts and stickers that are to be made available at events that business owners are hosting. In addition to providing vaccines, business sector OHKCE community health liaisons are having conversations with their customers and clients to clear up COVID misconceptions.

“This project is so important – especially with the Delta variant. We don’t want to shame people. We think it’s more effective to provide accurate information.”

Smith says the goal is to help inform people and provide a space for those in the community to get vaccinated. He does understand that volume is key.

“We are providing incentives to encourage people. Some businesses are giving out gift cards. We are doing a $500 raffle at some of our pop-ups. Chris Evans at T-shirt King produced shirts for us. We find that the incentives work,” Smith says.

There is a personal side to his efforts, too. Smith’s wife is an elementary school principal, and he has three teenaged children.

“It’s instinct to take care of your family. That’s our ecosystem. We protect the people in our house, and then the people around us.

Smith says this is how it translates to what is being done in the community.

“It’s just a bigger ecosystem. Keeping everyone safe is not possible if we don’t all work together.”