SHAWNEE, KS (KCTV) -- It’s a hard to decision to move a parent to assisted living and that struggle inspired one local man to try something new.

He and the generation before him broke barriers to make it happen.

Don Kelly built Our Home Senior Care with just 12 bedrooms and luxury touches, aiming to differentiate it with switch-ups as small as the dining room.

“We can do family style as opposed to the four-to-a-table you tend to see in nursing homes,” he said. “We wanted to give that family style feel.”

It’s one of the first senior homes in Johnson County that’s African American owned and Kelly has his parents to thank for that.

“My mom was my biggest supporter,” he said. “My dad never felt like there was anything he couldn’t do.”

James Kelly, Jr. was 19 when he moved to KC in 1958.

“My dad came from Arkansas with a 3rd grade education,” he said.

He couldn’t go to school because he had to pick cotton, but he always pushed for more.

“Kansas City, Missouri didn’t have trash service, so he started a trash route,” he said. “He would go around and yell, ‘Trash man! Trash man!’ and pick up trash with a pickup truck.”

A decade later, he started an asphalt company that became the largest minority-owned business in a four-state area.

They were hardly rich, though.

Their house was across from Municipal Stadium at 21st and Brooklyn. They couldn’t afford admission, but the kids would watch from their third-story window.

Thirty years later, Don Kelly bought the entire vacant block where the stadium once stood and built Monarch Manor, named for the Negro Leagues team that once played baseball there.

“To do it across the street from where I grew up as a kid,” he said. “To be able to say, ‘Wow.’”

Kelly’s start in construction was a house he built for himself at 59th and Cypress. He moved in on his 21st birthday.

However, he wasn’t content to build in the city. In the late '90s, he built homes abutting River Oaks golf course in Grandview, becoming the first African-American to build in the suburbs. Before long, he was building million-dollar homes in Lee’s Summit.

His brother, Ron, recently opened Skratch Bakery in Lee’s Summit, also encouraged into entrepreneurship.

Ron and Don are both pastors. Their father was a deacon.

“I’m doing this because God inspired me to go in this direction,” Don Kelly said.

Our Home is the start of Kelly’s next chapter, combining construction with connection. He plans to build more such homes “when this is successful,” he said.

No second-guessing there; just fearless confidence inspired by faith and family. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, StormTrack5 weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from KCTV5 News. 

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