Kansas City’s Guadalupe Centers: A Century of Serving the Latino Community

For a century, the Guadalupe Centers* has served as a community-based organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and celebrating the cultural heritage of Kansas City’s Latino and immigrant community.

In 1919, according to Dorothy Gallagher, the Guadalupe Centers was the only organization to offer social services to Mexican immigrants in the Westside. Unlike other settlement houses across the region, the Center was affiliated with the Catholic Church and specifically focused on Mexican immigrants. This relationship with the Church allowed the Center to provide social services and become an integral part of the fabric of Latino Kansas City.

Over the last hundred years, the Center grew in two ways: first in the number of people annually served and second in the number of programs offered. In 1926, Guadalupe Center served 250 people. By 2018, the Center served 12,000 people through its various programs. While the organization helped Mexican immigrants in its beginnings, today, the Guadalupe Centers assists all people in need in diverse communities across the city.

Kansas City’s Guadalupe Centers: A Century of Serving the Latino Community chronicles the history of the longest continuously operating Latino-serving organization in the United States and its role in creating and sustaining a vibrant Latino community in Kansas City.

* The organization changed its name from Guadalupe Center to the Guadalupe Centers in 2009 to reflect the growth and expansion of its programs. For historical purposes, the exhibit will refer to the organization as the Guadalupe Center and change to the Guadalupe Centers when chronicling its recent history.