Many think of banking as purely transactional. But when Arvest rebuilt an existing branch in East Kansas City recently, it was built with the intention of being a neighbor. 

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That neighborly relationship not only exists within the walls of our new facility, but thanks to a unique opportunity, has also extended into a nearby area of homes.

The Santa Fe neighborhood has a long and storied history, dating back to the 1800s. In that history is intertwined the fight for racial justice, the right for African American families to live within its boundaries, and now, the determination to preserve the neighborhood for decades to come. 

Marquita Taylor heads up the Santa Fe Area Council and, in recent months, played a critical role in securing grant money from the city for residents to improve their homes. She then called on Mark Larabee, President of Arvest Bank for the Greater Kansas City region, and the expertise of our associates to oversee the financial portion of each restoration project.

“As a community-focused bank, we want to create a great place to live, work, and play,” Larabee said. 

Arvest was provided custody services of the grant money, held it on behalf of the Santa Fe neighborhood, and then dispersed the funds as improvements were completed on designated homes.

Kiva Miller is one of the grant recipients. She worked with a contractor on needed repairs to her house before moving on to a wish list item she’s had for years – a sink with a window overlooking her backyard. 

“It was just absolutely wonderful,” she said. “Twenty-five years, and I’ve never had that. Now I do.”

For resident Robin Parks, the project was about bringing her home to a standard the neighborhood can be proud of and she can feel secure in. She says it’s wonderful to drive up and see her home every day.

“It’s a much safer home to have my disabled son in,” she said. “More homeowners are interested in doing more to their homes to bring them up to a level they too can be proud of with the help of Arvest Bank and the neighborhood association.”

For more information on the historic Santa Fe neighborhood and to hear more from Marquita Taylor, check out the Land of Opportunity special from Kansas City PBS.