Funds on the way to help address violence, literacy.

Grant funds intended to make Finney County a healthier, safer place to live are on the way.

St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City recently received more than $600,000 in Mission and Ministry grant funds from Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) to address two issues: domestic violence and literacy.

The grants came as part of a cooperative effort between the local hospital and Finney County Community Health Coalition, which identifies specific health-related needs in the community.

When it comes to domestic violence, there's no disputing its negative impact on the health of victims. The crime also can lead to drug abuse and teenage pregnancy.

Locally, domestic violence exacts a particularly painful toll. According to data from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, domestic violence in Finney County was one of the top two leading crimes reported between 2009 and 2011.

To help combat that trend, $384,645 in funding will go to the United Against Violence initiative, with the goal of reducing family violence in the community. The effort will encourage enhanced cooperation between local health, law enforcement, judicial and victim advocacy agencies as part of a Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence process.

Another $257,487 in CHI funding will go to a three-year project to develop a Family Literacy program, one modeled after the federal Migrant Family Literacy program. Literacy classes will be provided for parents of young children, with early education for children not yet in school.

In a community with a significant number of immigrants who speak little or no English, literacy efforts are essential in helping them assimilate. Too often, communication barriers stand in the way of immigrants' access to health care and other vital resources.

While the two issues of domestic violence and literacy may seem miles apart, each one has a direct impact on the overall health and welfare of the community.

And, the two grants were just the latest in a series of positive contributions from St. Catherine Hospital and CHI, as more than $1 million has been devoted to various ventures in the past five years all healthy steps toward meeting community needs.