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March 8, 2013
Sister Berta Sailer – the co-founder of Operation Breakthrough, a social services provider in Kansas City – will be the featured speaker for Northwest Missouri State University’s next Ploghoft Diversity Lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.
The lecture is free and open to the public.
Sailer and Sister Corita Bussanmas founded Operation Breakthrough, a not-for-profit agency that provides childcare and a broad range of social services for working-poor families, in 1971 in response to pleas from central city parents who wanted quality care and education for their children.
The agency is now the largest single-site childcare center in Missouri, caring each weekday for more than 500 children, who come to Operation Breakthrough from homeless shelters, foster homes and struggling single-parent families. In addition to early childhood education and enrichment activities for school-age children, Operation Breakthrough provides medical and dental care, an eye clinic, mental health services, tutoring, mentoring, parenting education, a food pantry, emergency aid and case management for families in crisis.
For 40 years, Sailer and Bussanmas have advocated for Kansas City children in need at local, state and national levels. And when their day of work is done at Operation Breakthrough, the sisters take the children home with them. Sailer and Bussanmas are licensed foster parents and are raising four children, whom they have adopted, ranging in age from 9 to 18.
Sailer, who was named the 2010 Greater Missouri Woman of the Year, addressed Northwest graduates and their families as the University’s summer 2011 commencement speaker.
The Ploghoft Diversity Lecture series is funded through the generosity of Dr. Milton and Zella Ploghoft of Athens, Ohio. Dr. Ploghoft, a 1949 Northwest alumnus, is professor emeritus at Ohio University, and Mrs. Ploghoft completed her elementary and secondary education at Horace Mann Laboratory School at Northwest.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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