United Way announces grant recipients

By Anne Kirchner
March 19, 2015

The United Way of McPherson County board of directors has approved $150,900 in grants for the 2015 funding year. Recipients include 15 non-profit organizations representing 18 human service programs that are addressing community issues related to education, health and income.

Additionally, the local United Way chapter requires at least one of four priority areas be the focus of the proposed program. Priority areas in McPherson County include rebuilding lives, providing basic needs, building self-reliance and preparing for life. Agencies must demonstrate a need for their program, identify program goals and report overall program outcomes.

Final funding decisions are the result of a competitive allocations process that requires agencies to submit an application, participate in an interview and provide follow-up data as requested. More than 30 board members and volunteers assist with the review process. “The review committee is searching for well-managed programs dedicated to addressing specific community needs,” said Tammy Curtright, allocations committee chairperson. “The task is challenging as there are many needs but limited funds.”

The United Way funding philosophy evolves around collaborative community impact. “By working with our partner agencies and various community committees, we strive to understand community problems and attack them at the root of the cause,” explained Anne Kirchner, United Way executive director. “Our goal is not to provide a quick fix but rather to work collectively to eliminate the obstacles.”

The annual United Way campaign provides the funds necessary to financially support human service organizations providing services throughout McPherson County. “Our financial support and advocacy services provide invaluable resources to our partner agencies,” said Kirchner. “Working together we aspire to understand the needs, and then we move forward with a plan of action.”

Kirchner emphasized the rewards are many – educated children, self-sufficient adults and healthy senior citizens. During 2015, McPherson County will benefit from the following programs funded by United Way.


Helping people live healthy, functional lives through emergency assistance, support and counseling.

CASA: A Voice for Children – Providing an advocacy program to assist abused and neglected children within the court system with the belief every child is entitled to a safe and permanent home.

Heart to Heart Child Advocacy Center – Providing an advocacy program to children who have suffered from an abusive event; includes professional forensic interviews, advocacy services, individual case review by a multidisciplinary team and additional resources for mental and physical health issues.

Circles of McPherson County – Providing the “Circles Initiative” program focused on providing life strategies to help low-income families rise above and beyond poverty.

Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Center – Providing an advocacy program to assist victims of sexual assault and domestic violence with advocacy services, shelter, 24-hour crisis line, safety planning, relocation, follow-up services, community education, law enforcement consultation and job seeking assistance.


Assuring access to basic needs including housing, food, clothing, healthcare, affordable transportation and safety/security.

McPherson Family Life Center – Providing the “Parent Link” program to provide social, emotional and information support to McPherson County families through ongoing home visits to new, first-time parents from birth through the first 24 months of their child’s life; providing the “Family Support” program to subsidize counseling for individuals of all ages, couples and families, play therapy for children and coaching sessions for parents and caregivers.

The Salvation Army – Providing the “Emergency Crisis Financial Assistance” program to assist individuals with rent, utilities, prescriptions and lodging.

Meals on Wheels – Providing the “Meals on Wheels” program which meets the nutritional needs of the elderly and infirm by providing daily, hot meals delivered to their homes.


Empowering citizens with information and access to resources to become self-reliant.

McPherson Special Olympics – Providing a program of sports training, education and athletic competition to individuals with intellectual disabilities regardless of their abilities.

United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas – Providing support services and assistive technology programs to ensure persons with disabilities have access to equipment and services allowing for increased or maintained levels of independence.

McPherson County Council on Aging – Providing senior center service programs associated with eight county senior centers to help seniors strengthen their capability to remain in their own homes and respective communities while maintaining dignity and self-determination.

McPherson Housing Coalition – Providing the “Brush Up Mac” program designed to help low-to-moderate income homeowners maintain their properties; targeted population includes elderly, disabled or single-parent residents.


Assuring all children develop physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially in a safe, nurturing environment.

Big Brothers Big Sisters – Providing a mentoring program to serve at-risk children ages 5-17 primarily from single-parent homes.

The Children’s Center – Providing a Kindergarten readiness program that helps children develop basic learning and character development skills.

Child Care Aware of Kansas – Providing a “Literacy Through the Day” curriculum program to educate McPherson County child care providers about the importance and impact of literacy and pre-literacy development in children from birth to age five.

McPherson Family YMCA – Providing the “Learn to Swim” program to second graders to teach basic swimming and water safety skills; providing the “Y-Kids” program to provide quality child care in a safe environment; providing the “Activate” program targeting middle school students to promote volunteerism and develop community leaders.

In addition to supporting partner agency programming, United Way dollars are invested in preschool scholarships, three summer lunch programs and special projects such as the “Milestones Ahead” and the “Show You Care – VOLUNTEER” reading initiatives.

Maintaining the annual campaign with the community’s help is a critical component of the United Way funding process. “Without campaign dollars, we would have difficulty making substantial investments in McPherson County,” said Jackie Christiansen, United Way board president. “Our long-term strategic plan includes designating one hundred percent of annual campaign dollars toward human service programs addressing education, health and income.”

She also noted the strategic plan includes increasing United Way’s endowment fund simultaneously to provide the concrete assets that will cover administrative expenses in the future. “We are grateful for Match Day sponsored by the McPherson County Community Foundation,” Christiansen said. “This event allows us to focus on our future while maintaining current operations.”

United Way of McPherson County has provided financial assistance to human service programs for the past 60 years. “Our commitment transforms lives,” noted Kirchner. “We hope to continue sharing the news about our impactful work while attracting donors, advocates and volunteers along the way.”