The Invest in Kids membership drive had a solid start recently at the Sunflower Diversified Services Charity Gala, Sunflower Executive Director Jim Johnson said. More than $4,500 in donations laid the groundwork for the $50,000 goal.
“At the Gala, we asked past and new members to support Invest in Kids,” Johnson explained. “Donations came to $2,605 and a mystery item during our auction brought in an additional $1,900. You can’t ask for a better start.
“Club Chairwoman Julie Spray and others will be contacting past and potential new members,” Johnson added. “We must be diligent in raising much-needed funds for infants and toddlers.”
All Invest in Kids money is earmarked for Sunflower’s Early Education Center (EEC), where services are free to families, and Incredible Years Preschool. Both are located at 1312 Patton, Great Bend.
“We have experienced substantial reductions in funding for the early ed center at the state and county levels,” Johnson noted. “This membership drive helps us replace these lost funds to maintain essential early education services.
“The money also provides scholarships for families who qualify for tuition assistance at our preschool.”
Sunflower’s service area includes Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. The non-profit agency is the only area organization that provides a full range of educational and therapeutic services to babies and toddlers. It also is the only western Kansas provider that offers services from birth through retirement.
Invest in Kids began last year and met its first $50,000 goal.
“We are so intent on this fundraising effort because a child’s greatest learning occurs in the first three years of life,” Johnson emphasized. “In these early years, developmental delays can be overcome.”
EEC data shows that one in four children making the transition out of infant/toddler programs has reached developmental milestones.
“This means they need no intervention when they enter the school system,” Johnson said. “Those who do need continuing services do not need as many; they have made developmental progress but there are still milestones to reach.”
As a non-profit agency, Sunflower focuses on using tax dollars for their intended purpose, Johnson pointed out. And that purpose is to increase the level of independence for everyone it serves.
“Ultimately,” he said, “this reduces dependence on tax-supported services, which is good news for all taxpayers.”
Sunflower has a long history of developing alternative approaches to support infants, toddlers, adolescents and adults. For example, Johnson said, Sunflower Diversified Recycling provides an important community service, while generating revenue for programs.
“In the process, it allows people with disabilities to earn their own paychecks,” Johnson said. “And again, this means less reliance on tax dollars.”
Incredible Years, which is designed for children age 2-and-a-half to 5, brings in tuition income that helps cover costs.
“We are researching more avenues to this business-like approach to raising money,” Johnson added. “We will do everything we can to allow people to live rewarding and productive lives, and help the taxpayer at the same time.”
For more information about Invest in Kids, contact Sunflower, 620-792-1325.