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Local community sees benefits of UWCK
catholic social services
Nichole Waltz from the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland joins Rebecca Ford from Catholic Social Services. - photo by JIM MISUNAS Great Bend Tribune


LARNED — After helping Stuff the Bus with items to benefit multiple United Way agencies, Pawnee County residents heard about direct partnerships that benefit Larned and Pawnee County.
John Hughes, Pawnee Valley Community Hospital director, said one patient who required recent transportation to Wichita, was assisted by a request to Volunteers in Action/RSVP. It prevented a possible costly transport from EMS.
“They provide transportation to a medical appointment and get them back home,” Hughes said. “You don’t always know everything that these volunteer groups do.”
Julie Smith, United Way of Central Kansas director, said Pawnee Valley has boosted its donations to United Way dramatically in the past few years and is inching toward one of the top 15 contributors.
Larned volunteer Tama Hanson, United Way of Central Kansas board member, said multiple agencies provide valuable services for Larned and Pawnee County. Hanson said Pawnee County visibility and support has increased, in part because of name change to United Way of Central Kansas.   
Local residents benefited from a fan drive during several hot summers. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library delivers free books to local youngsters from birth to age 5. Some money was donated to roof work at the Orphan Grain Train location. Portable tables were provided for the Welcome Inn Senior Center.
“There are many ways that Pawnee County has benefited from United Way services,” Hanson said.
UWCK partnered with USD 495 Parents as Teachers to purchase a $4,628 Otoacoustic Emissions Screener, which was required by the Kansas Department of Education by July 1, 2014.  The screener assists with identifying middle ear infections and possible hearing losses for children.
“There are a lot of doctors that don’t have equipment like that,” Hanson said. “When we’ve done fundraisers, we’ve also done one-time assistance. Every dollar counts.”
Jane Fox and Laura Smith of Larned also serve as UWCK board members. Kevyn Soupiset, who operates Larned’s Progressive Therapy and Sports Medicine, and his wife Paulette are also board members. Larned’s Kyle and Tamara Beckwith are serving as co-chairs for the 2016 fund drive.
“We’re very proud of the representation from Larned on our boards,” said Julie Smith, UWCK director.
Every year the United Way of Central Kansas hosts multiple Stuff the Bus events in order to help support the 19 community partners.
The bus was stuffed in Larned at the Pawnee Valley Community Hospital and Shopko.
“Our goal each year is to collect much needed items for our agencies in an effort to help them not have to use funds for basic necessities, but rather be able to put their funds towards helping our communities,” said Julie Smith. “This event helps them to stretch every dollar they bring in.”