Editor's note: This is the final story in a series featuring the 25 agencies that will be receiving money from the Finney County United Way in 2014.
By KELTON BROOKS
Children and adults around the world suffer from a variety of different conditions and diseases, and Kansas is no exception.
With the help of the United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas, some conditions won't be major restrictions in patients' lives.
"One of our biggest concerns is comfort," Dave Jones, executive director of the United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas, said. "If we can make technology a bit easier and different for people to use, then it will make their lives much more easier."
United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas is a statewide organization founded in 1953 by a group of parents seeking educational and therapeutic services for disabled children. The organization has shifted its focus from children's services to the development of programs and services that provide independent living opportunities, employment opportunities and technologies that assure healthy lifestyles, access to the community and personal growth.
The organization also helps with other conditions such as spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord issues, traumatic brain injuries and autism.
Jones said the United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas in Wichita employs 200 individuals with disabilities and provides a 100-unit housing complex. People currently and previously employed have given back $30,000 to the organization this year.
Jones added that the organization has helped 25 people from Finney County this year who needed specialized equipment.
"Whether it's communication devices, powered wheelchairs, or other equipment, we help them use the equipment and help them with purchasing it," he said. "We want them to develop independency."
Jones cited the "seating system" as a piece of equipment that helps keep patients from developing pressure sores, and puts them in the proper posture to help with breathing, swallowing and digesting.
With more than 20 partner agencies in the county alone, United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas and other organizations have received funds from the Finney County United Way to accommodate programs and provide donations to help those in need.
Jones said the organization receives $6,500 from the local United way to help with equipment such as powered wheelchairs, home accommodations, seating systems and communication devices.
He also said most of the money allocated from the United Way is used in Finney County.
"For families, it means that loved ones are a lot more independent, and the equipment helps reduce their reliance on others," Jones said.
The United Way's annual campaign goal is $560,000, $10,000 more than last year. The 25 partner agencies for the 2014 campaign include:
Miles of Smiles; Real Men, Real Leaders; Russell Child Development Center; Santa Fe Trail Council — Boy Scouts of America; Seeds of Hope Jail Ministry; Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association; Building Blocks Project through Russell Child Development Center; Spirit of the Plains — CASA, Inc.; St. Catherine Hospital — Lactation Program; United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries; The Salvation Army; United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas; Garden City Recreation Commission — Playground Program; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney & Kearny Counties; Catholic Social Service; Circles of Hope; Community Day Care Center, Inc.; Family Crisis Services, Inc.; Finney County Retired Senior Volunteer Program; Garden City Area Chapter of the American Red Cross; Garden City Family YMCA; Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland; Habitat for Humanity; Kansas Children's Service League; Meals on Wheels.