Kansas City Plays Host to President Obama

Published 07/30 2014 06:42AM

Updated 07/30 2014 07:08AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- President Obama arrived in Kansas City Tuesday night ahead of a speech today on the economy.  He had dinner with four people from the area who recently wrote him letters about issues affecting their daily lives.

The President had dinner Tuesday night with four Kansas City residents who have written letters to him about their personal stories of working hard to get ahead in America - both their successes and their struggles.

These letters remind the President and his staff who we are working for and underscore the importance of his agenda for using all of the tools at his disposal to continue to expand opportunity for all Americans.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, a Kansas City native, called each of these letter writers to invite them to dinner with the President.

The president ordered at the back of the restaurant, looking up at the menu on a large placard as he asked for a half slab, a bottle of water, and a Bud Light - pooler got visual confirmation on the water but not the beer.

At the cash register, he pulled out a wallet and some cash, with a $50 bill visible on top.

"I want to pay for everybody," he told the woman at the register, likely referring to the guests who wrote him letters.  (see below)

After ordering, he headed into another room with black-and-white photos of baseball players lining the walls, where he greeted smiling diners. 

He sat down with the four letter-writers around a table in the corner by the front window with.  Reporters were ushered out of the restaurant to allow a private discussion with Obama.

President Obama left the restaurant at 8:57 p.m., still in his shirt sleeves, to greet a crowd that had formed in the lot next to it. A few women cheered as he walked out.

The president spent the night at a Kansas City hotel before his speech on the economy today.  He'll speak at 11:00 this morning at the Uptown Theater.

The White House provided this summary of the letter writers and their comments:
Victor Fugate
In January of 2012, Victor sent you a letter to thank you for the student loan help he received from the Income Based Repayment Plan. Currently, Victor works for the Missouri Department of Mental Health and sees firsthand how the ACA is impacting people’s lives. He has also personally benefited from the ACA, using an exchange to get health care when we was laid off from his job as a financial counselor. Victory is married and has a four year old daughter.
Valerie McCaw
Last week, Valerie sent you an email to voice her frustration about how hard it is to make a living. As a single mom and a small business owner, she works seven days a week and still struggles to pay her bills. Valerie is a small business owner and engineer. She started her firm, VSM Engineering, 11 years ago and has four part-time employees. Her son is in college out of state and his tuition is almost 40,000 a year.
Mark Turner
In June, Mark wrote to you about teaching a GED program and trying to make a difference in the lives of young people. Mark works for the Full Employment Council, a non-profit that helps those who are unemployed and under employed. The Full Employment Council, along with the city of Kansas City, recently received a $1 million grant from DOL to fund Face Forward KC an initiative to provide educational services, job training and placement services, mentoring services, and legal assistance to juvenile offenders and at-risk youth. Mark has married for 34 years and has two children, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Since he wrote the letter he has taken on an additional role of teaching a GED program named Project Rise. He is still employed by the Full Employment Council but wanted to highlight this additional role. 
Becky Forrest
In August of 2013, Becky wrote to you about the work that was being done through her neighborhood association. Becky has been the President of the Town Fork Creek Neighborhood Association for 11 years and said she has learned so much in this role. She said that she wanted you to know that people in her community were working hard to improve their neighborhood and positively impact the lives of those around them.

(story written by pool reporter Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star)

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