Last Thursday, April 9th, the Women’s Foundation honored Sister Berta Sailer and Sister Corita Bussanmas with the Karen Herman Advocate of the Year Award at a reception at Prairiefire Museum.
This award is given to individuals who have exhibited a long-term commitment and demonstrated their passion through meaningful work to enhancing the lives of women and girls.
Sister Berta Sailer and Sister Corita Bussanmas are the co-founders of Operation Breakthrough, a not-for-profit agency that provides childcare and a broad range of social services for working poor families at 31st and Troost in Kansas City.
Sister Berta and Sister Corita Bussanmas founded Operation Breakthrough in 1971 in response to pleas from central city parents who wanted quality care and education for their children. It is now the largest single-site childcare center in Missouri, caring each weekday for nearly 400 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, mental health services, tutoring, mentoring, parent education, a food pantry, emergency aid and case management for families in crisis.
For over 40 years, Sisters Berta and Corita have advocated for Kansas City children in need at local, state and national levels. Although Sister Corita retired in 2013, she continues to care for children at home. Sister Berta and Sister Corita are licensed foster parents, with a house full of young people in need of a home, as well as their four adopted children, ranging in age from 14 to 21.