The Presbyterian Women thought it was a worthy cause in the early 1980s, and they still do today.
The organization played a big role in starting the Sunflower Diversified Services in-home program for infants with developmental delays, and the Great Bend Presbyterian Women recently donated more than $700 to the non-profit agency’s Invest in Kids Campaign.
The fundraising campaign began last month in response to Barton County’s elimination of its portion of Sunflower’s Early Education Center (EEC) budget. The EEC serves infants and toddlers with delays from birth to age 3 years.
"Not too many people realize this, but a grant from the Presbyterian Women provided start-up funds when Sunflower’s first in-home infant program began," said Phyllis Bosley, local treasurer. "The importance of this program for babies cannot be over-stated.
"These are the most critical years for any child but especially for those with delays," Bosley continued. "It is also so important for parents to have guidance and support from the caring professionals at the early ed center."
Sunflower’s EEC currently provides services for about 75 infants and toddlers in its five-county service area, which includes Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.
The Presbyterian Women Churchwide Thank Offering made the early donation, while the recent gift is the result of contributions by Karl Ware and Jim Hiss, both of Great Bend.
"Karl and Jim came to the local Presbyterian Women and asked us to help women and/or children with their donation," Bosley said. "We all wanted to help Sunflower with its current fund-raising campaign and this donation was a perfect fit."
Ware donated funds as a memorial to his mother, Lady Sue Ware, as well as to Marie Brehmer and his other Sunday School teachers. Hiss and some friends also contributed.
Jim Johnson, Sunflower executive director, said he appreciates this demonstration of community support.
"All of us are so grateful that this church group helped us in the beginning and continue to show their support," Johnson said. "Mr. Ware and Mr. Hiss also have our heartfelt gratitude. This kind of local investment in providing services to infants is crucial. When children receive our services early in life there is a good chance they won’t need us as adults."
The Invest in Kids goal is $60,000. If successful, it will replace the more than $54,000 cut by Barton County and also provide scholarships for Sunflower’s Incredible Years Preschool. The local Damon Foundation kicked off the campaign with a lead gift of $10,000. It will donate another $5,000 after Sunflower raises $15,000 from other donors.