How many people can claim to have grilled at least 1 million bratwurst while educating the community about at-risk kids?
At least one: Kevin Killian.
He’s the guy who has cooked for the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast, led the competition cook team at the Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival and cooked meals for more than 600 volunteers after the 2011 Joplin tornado, because Killian knows his mission as president and CEO of Good Samaritan Boys Ranch in Brighton extends beyond the boundaries of the residential treatment center.
“The truth is that children are abused and mistreated every day,” Killian says. “The abuse of children also affects the lives of all the people who surround them, from parents, siblings, friends, teachers, community members and the list goes on. The work that we do at the boys ranch is one way to help these kids get on their feet again. Another way is through participation, education and leadership roles within the community and through organizations dedicated to making a difference.”
That’s why Killian expanded his work to include advocating for children by awakening community awareness and serving on committees where he can educate and fundraise on behalf of Good Samaritan.
With an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University and a master’s in education from Drury University, Killian has worked with children in residential settings for 35 years, more than 20 of those on the ranch. Prior to starting there, Killian was the program director at Ozarks Regional YMCA and the director of cottage life at what was then named Boys & Girls Town of Missouri in St. James – now called Great Circle – where he supervised dozens of people and directed several teams in developing treatment plans for abused and neglected children.
When Killian arrived at Good Samaritan, the ranch was struggling financially and in need of updated programming.
“As a team, we identified existing problems and implemented a new structure, which resulted in a program that is currently identified as one of the leading residential treatment facilities in the state of Missouri,” he says. “The Good Samaritan Boys Ranch, the boys who find refuge here and the truly committed people who work toward serving children are a continuing source of great pride and accomplishment.”
Killian’s long tenure at the ranch means he’s reached the point where former residents come back to visit.
“Oftentimes, these men visit us with their own children in tow and tell us about the ways they are making positive contributions to their communities and their own families. For me, the realization that another person’s life was made better because of our service is the epitome of feeling successful,” he says.
Killian strives to foster teamwork and dedication among his staff while allowing extensive autonomy in making decisions.
“The benefit of positive, dedicated staff members is a strong living and recovery experience for the boys we are dedicated to serving,” he says. “Because of our restructuring and ability to adapt to new programming ideas, many staff members have continued their employment at the boys’ ranch for more than 20 years.”[[In-content Ad]]