Kylie Ewing always knew she wanted a house full of kids. “My mom used to tell me that I was going to grow up to be the old woman who lived in a shoe,” Kylie says. Today, Kylie likes to create a feeling of home wherever she goes. As the founder of Pro Deo in Lee’s Summit, an advocate for countless teens and the mother of seven, she has certainly opened her home, and her heart, to many.
Kylie and her husband, Andy, began their journey together through campus ministry at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. Upon graduation, they moved to the Lee’s Summit area where Andy began a career in law enforcement.
Andy saw a need in the community to help support at-risk teenagers, so he talked Kylie into giving up watching Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday nights for grilling hot dogs in the parking lot of Lakeland Community Church. Around that same time, Kylie attended a conference on re-neighboring and became inspired to have a lasting impact on local teens.
Pro Deo, a non-profit organization aimed at supporting teens, was born in 2010 with Kylie at the helm.
A newlywed couple in their 20s, Andy and Kylie hosted teen dinners every week for three years. Their home became an ad hoc youth center. Sometimes, the kids stayed for more than just dinner. Kylie can rattle off the names of at least eight girls who lived with them through the years, many in a crisis situation. Most of these women have stayed in contact with the Ewings as they navigate raising their own children. “Once you have been added to our family,” Kylie says, “you are in it for life.”
When Pro Deo moved out of the Ewing home, a group of volunteers helped replace the “coffee shop type furniture” with normal house furniture and made home repairs. More than just a fresh coat of paint, Kylie says, “It painted a beautiful picture of how we had taken care of the community and they were now taking care of us. We were all in it together.”
Pro Deo won Business of the Year from the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce in 2014.
With Pro Deo’s success, Kylie was ready to transition away from the daily operations of a non-profit and focus on raising a family. She and Andy had long determined there were many ways to build a family. In 2013 they brought home Kadence through a private adoption. A few years later, they were ready for more.
“We went into foster care because we desperately wanted to expand our family, even if it was temporary. We felt like we still had so much love to give,” says Kylie. Through foster care and eventually adoption, their family has grown to include Lilly, Lydia, Leah, Dominic, Domariana and Titus. Starting with Kadence, they stair step in age from 9 to 4.
Kylie beams with pride when she talks about her children. They each have different personalities, different strengths, different obstacles. She hopes they “know that they are always worthy and that they bring something of value to the table, no matter how little or how big.”
When the pandemic hit and schools went virtual, Kylie found herself at home with seven children. Fast forward two years later, and Kylie is not only home schooling her own children, but she is collaborating with three other families twice a week. The students range from three years old to eighth grade. A modern-day Ms. Frizzle, Kylie prides herself on taking the kids on adventures and makes learning come alive for them. Every week this year they are studying a different US state.
“For our state study, I really want them to know that when you grow up, you can go anywhere. Be anything. I want them to know that God will use them. God has a plan for them. There are things you can be passionate about; even the littlest thing can branch out,” she says.
Kylie is quick to point out that many days are hard, despite her preparation. Hers is a balancing act between structure and flexibility. “I always have a plan B, a plan C, a plan D so that if something doesn’t go as expected, I have ways we can fix it and move forward.” As the historian of her family, Kylie uses social media to share the good, the beautiful, and the messy. She hopes someday her kids will look back and see how their triumphs far outweigh any disappointments.
Even though her children are her main focus these days, Kylie still has a heart for serving others. It is a gift she hopes to pass on to her kids. “We want them to have a passion for serving their community,” she says. From picking out a goat to send somewhere on the other side of the world at Christmas to packing sandwiches for a homeless outreach, Kylie strives to find age-appropriate ways her children can grow in the field of ministry.
Kylie Ewing shines a light on the beauty and joy in creating a home--whether it be in a shoe, a house, a coffee shop or a church. Because home is where the heart is.
“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” Mother Teresa