UMB Big Bash®beneficiaries are changing people’s lives

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Literacy Kansas City helped Peggy land her dream job
TSA employee learned to read with Literacy Kansas City

“I read my first book when I was 51.”

Peggy Shannon dreamed of being a TSA agent but when she applied for the job, she failed the first test because she couldn’t read and didn’t know how to use a computer. Before connecting with Literacy Kansas City, she read at a third-grade level. Her limited reading abilities severely limited her career options.

“I’ve been married twice and I never told either one of them I couldn’t read. I’ve hid it well. Because I couldn’t read, I just did my job that much better … always giving it 110 percent, always.”

She worked 12-hour shifts, six days a week in a hot factory. But she wanted to work with people and hoped to one day work at Kansas City International Airport.

Literacy Kansas City helped Peggy land her dream jobShannon still gives 110 percent, but now at a job she loves. After months of lessons and computer classes at Literacy Kansas City, Shannon decided she was ready to try again. This time, she passed and after being on the job with Akal Security, Inc., a TSA contractor, for just six months, she was promoted to a lead.

“I wanted it really bad. I love the job because I like interacting with people. I have to make sure that when the passengers are coming through and when we’re really busy that everything moves smoothly and I have enough people on the line.”

Reading has impacted more than Shannon’s career; it’s improved her health and wellbeing. Shannon lost 40 pounds after reading a diet book.

“I’ve never read the backs of packages. It’s helped me so much. I’m a lot healthier than I’ve ever been.”

Shannon says her outlook on life has changed since she learned to read.

“Life is amazing. I wake up every day just thrilled to be alive and thank the Lord everyday that I can read and that I can go out and do the job that I love.”


Donald has a stable home thanks to reStart, Inc.

Donald has a stable home thanks to reStart, Inc.“I’m hoping I can be a part of changing things. If there is anything at all I can do, I’m more than happy to do it the way this program has helped me.”

Donald McCombs, an Army veteran, was homeless for two years. He and his significant other had to move three times because their landlords were not in compliance, one was even under foreclosure. They were forced to put their belongings in storage, and then lost everything. The couple was living in motels, and struggling to make ends meet.

“Towards the end of the month we had to get out and hustle … cutting yards to make money to pay for the rest of the month. There were times I was sleeping behind a gas station, or in the woods.”

One day, while she was at a food pantry, McComb’s girlfriend saw a brochure for reStart, Inc.’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. Within two weeks, they were in stable housing.

“It is remarkable the way it [reStart, Inc.] helps people and the way it’s helped me. Being homeless for two years and losing everything I had. And now, [I have] 100 percent less worries.”Donald's life was changed thanks to reStart, Inc.The couple now lives in an apartment, a large house that’s been converted into a four-plex. All of the tenants are veterans.

“I want to thank everyone that gives to this program. You all have helped make this happen. If it wasn’t for supporters like you … we wouldn’t have nothing. I’d probably still be homeless.”


Help Literacy Kansas City and reStart, Inc., continue to make meaningful impacts on the lives of people living in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Join us on Monday, June 22 for UMB Big Bash, when both of these local nonprofits will be awarded a $50,000 grant before Grammy® Award Winner Rob Thomas with special guest, Plain White T’s take the stage at Sprint Center.


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Mr. Hagedorn is president and chief executive officer of UMB Bank and vice chairman of UMB Financial Corporation. Prior to this role, Hagedorn served as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer of UMB Financial Corporation. He joined UMB in March 2005.

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