Mary Pieschel Esselman is President and CEO of Operation Breakthrough, an innovative childhood development program in Kansas City, Missouri.

Former Springfield woman leads Operation Breakthrough

that educates, feeds, heals and loves hundreds of children every day

Operation Breakthrough is Missouri’s largest early learning center. Its mission is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment. This organization provides day care, meals, Children’s Mercy Clinic, a dental clinic, speech therapy, play therapy, housing assistance, food and clothing to children and families of the inner city of Kansas City.  Operation Breakthrough also strives to support and empower the children’s families through advocacy, referral services, and emergency aid.

Operation Breakthrough serves 420 children, ages 6 weeks to 14 years. Almost nine of 10 enrolled families live below the federal poverty guidelines — with an average income of less than $13,000. About one in five children are homeless or living in transitional housing.  More than one in 10 children are in foster care or other placements due to abuse, neglect or other family crises. 

Some parents may think they’re signing up for childcare but Operation Breakthrough is far more; it’s a sophisticated learning environment where the children often enroll with limited language — an inability to focus or interact. Yet they leave ready for success in kindergarten.

Founded 45 years ago by two Catholic sisters, Sister Berta Sailor and Sister Corita Bussanmas, the nonprofit has a history of providing quality childcare for the working poor of the central city. Ten years ago a renovation and expansion of the old retail store doubled the size of the facility.


See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.

Springfield Advance-Press

13 S. Marshall Avenue PO Box 78 Springfield, MN 56087