Justine Burton, the speaker at Lawrence Central Rotary on December 9, was homeless at 16. She faced a world where drug and alcohol addiction, prostitution and theft were everyday occurrences. But rather than give in to any of it, she completed an Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Kansas City Kansas Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Ft. Hays State.
And then she began to give back to older teen-agers who needed help.
Burton founded StopGap in 2008. Children in foster care “age out” at 18. At that age they are no longer in foster care or in a group home. They are on their own to survive as best they can. StopGap gives them tools for survival.
“Sometimes they don’t know the basics such as how to cook, clean, find a place to live, pay rent, use a computer. They don’t know what family is all about, they don’t bond with siblings,” ” Burton said. “StopGap assists at-risk youth’s safe transition from dependence on a system to independence.”
With its Youth Empowerment Outreach Program, StopGap offers classes in life skills in donated space at Victory Bible Church.
“We went to get their feet on solid ground,” said Chela Ingram, StopGap volunteer community coordinator, who accompanied Burton to the meeting, “so they will learn consequences of actions. We want to give them knowledge that will stick with them.”
They offer an eight-week program with interactive workshops to give youth a hands-on experience with real world issues, as well as supplying information on health and giving them contacts in the community through speakers who come in.
There are currently 60 youth enrolled.
“My future goal is to establish a transitional living program where youth from 16 to 21 who are aging out of foster care or at-risk can live in an 18-24 month supervised transitional living program,” Burton said. “I want them to achieve their full potential.”
While the first weekend in Lawrence may mean the annual Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade in Downtown Lawrence, it also means a day of service for the members of Lawrence area Rotary Clubs. All three local clubs staff Salvation Army Red Kettles around Lawrence that day. As in previous years Lawrence Central was stationed in front of Weaver’s department store.
The weather cooperated on all fronts, it was a beautiful day to greet everyone out for the parade or just to enjoy the beautiful early winter day on Mass Street.
This year marks the 125th year that the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign that kicked-off Thanksgiving day. The Salvation Army has more than 25,000 red kettles being stationed in storefronts and on street corners nationwide. From its humble beginnings as a program started by a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable campaigns in the United States. It provides toys for kids, coats for the homeless, food for the hungry and countless social service programs year-round. As part of the campaign, more than 25,000 Salvation Army volunteers throughout the country ring bells and solicit donations to the red kettles.
The kettles will be out for a while yet, but there are other ways to participate. You can use the Salvation Army’s Text-to-Give program for the mobile donor, it’s easy to give $10 by texting the word “KETTLE” to 80888 and replying “YES.”
You can also give online at http://redkettlereason.org
From nearly 40,000 emergency room admissions to over 1,000 babies delivered, regardless of your stage of life or place in our community, Lawrence Memorial Hospital is there to care for you and your loved ones. That was the central message conveyed by Lawrence Central Rotary guests Jean Shepherd, board member of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) Endowment Association, Kathy Clausing-Willis, vice president and chief development officer, and Earl Reineman, foundation and corporate relations manager.
When Shepherd’s husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002, she discovered the care provided by LMH to be “a true gift.” His cancer did not respond well to treatment, yet LMH was open minded and encouraged Shepherd and her husband to seek a second opinion. Other doctors confirmed what Shepherd suspected: they were receiving nearly the best care possible from their community hospital already.
LMH was gifted to the City of Lawrence in 1928 by Elizabeth Watkins. Today, it is technically considered a 501(c)(9) nonprofit instrumentality of the city. The endowment was formed in 1969.
The endowment exists to rally the community in support of LMH, and the primary way the public can help is through monetary donations. The endowment has two large fundraisers that the public should consider joining: the annual H.P. Penny Jones golf tournament and the biannual Hearts of Gold black-tie ball.
Funds raised by the endowment support new and upgraded equipment, hospital renovations to create a “caring environment,” charity care for the poor, and special needs of LMH.
Hospital leadership is particularly proud of LMH’s designation as a “Top 100” hospital in America, according to Truven Health Analytics. The hospital considers its core competencies cardiology, oncology, palliative care, women’s health, surgical services, and primary care. A current challenge facing the hospital is recruiting new, quality primary care physicians, due to attrition and increasing competition from concierge and direct primary care practices.
Vickie Randell, former Rotary District Governor, current district Rotary Foundation coordinator, (and now Assistant Regional Foundation Coordinator for Zone 27) is excited about what the Rotary Foundation has done and even more excited about what’s coming in the future.
“People tell me I’m a Rotary faucet,” the member of the Lawrence noon club said. “You ask me about the Rotary Foundation and you’ve turned the tap for a flood of information.”
The Rotary Foundation supports projects all over the globe as well as locally. “In our district we have clubs whose members have formed especially strong bonds with people in Panama and Guatemala.
“We’ve done global grants there that have helped educate people about clean water sources, worked on schools and provided medical supplies, “she said. She showed a slide of a rocky, road, filled in spots with water that children had to walk through to get to school. Rotarians cleaned it up and graded it.
The water supply for one community was a filthy, refuse filled stream. Through Rotary intervention there are now huge tanks supplying clean water.
“Teams of Kansas Rotarians have gone to Mexico to build houses,” she said. In India dump dwellers, who made their living scavenging in the dump, where they also lived, are being taught other ways to support themselves. In Uganda vocational training teams are teaching nurses in pediatric hospitals.
“Foundation money comes to local communities too,” she said. “A holiday shopping event is sponsored for children who otherwise couldn’t shop for gifts. The Lawrence Rotary arboretum is a sterling example of what clubs can do when they work together.”
Randal also talked about how in an unusual twist, Rotary clubs in Japan sent foundation money to the U.S. to help victims of hurricane Katrina proving the work of Rotary goes wherever it is needed.
There is always more to do. “We’re building the Rotary Peace Fellowship project, dedicated to eliminating conflict and helping the victims of conflict. And polio is not quite gone. There were still 54 cases in the world this year.
“Everything we do in Rotary builds peace, “ she said. “And peace helps people become their true selves.”
Lawrence Central has launched our annual fundraiser for the work we do every year. As in year’s past we will be selling wreaths and other holiday decorations from Lynch Creek Farms and in Lawrence Central’s partnership with them we receive 20% back from every sale to help partially fund the service projects we do. Some examples of our service activities include:
- Community Bike Rides
- Purchase of ShelterBoxes
- Sister Cities Scholarships
- Lawrence’s Rotary Arboretum
- Bike Racks around Lawrence
- Tour of Lawrence Kids Zone
We want to continue to do this work and more with help from you and all you need to do is simply purchase holiday decorations. You can do this by talking to any of our members or there’s an even easier way – go to our Lynch Creek fundraising website, peruse what they have an order yourself! We’ve even set up an easy link:
If you’re not comfortable with ordering online we totally understand – you can also call Lynch Creek direct toll-free at 1-888-426-0781 and please Lawrence Central Rotary Fundraiser #26879
Lynch Creek is a family business that started in 1980, now transformed from selling a few flowers and vegetables at the local farmers’ market on the weekends, to a full blown year-round business that ships throughout the United States.
Lynch Creek Farms have been amazing to work with and they care about the groups that sell their wreaths and decorations. Here’s a video about the business.
Rotary District 5710 Governor John Donovan was full of praise for Lawrence Central Rotary when he spoke to the club on October 28. “You have the best website in the district. You are on the upswing in most areas, your membership is trending up. You are a powerful presence in the community. ”
Donovan said he sees Rotary as not only a force in local communities but as a Gift To The World, which is the theme of his year as DG.
On a personal level the Leavenworth Rotarian said “being District Governor is an amazing job,“ detailing his year of visits to the 45 clubs in his district. He tries to balance his role with living on a former dairy farm outside of Easton, KS, where he and his wife keep horses and raise angora goats, peafowl, Bourbon Red turkeys, ducks, chickens, guineas and are staff for five dogs and nine cats. Being a former military science professor and artillery afficianado, there is also cannon in his front yard.
His enthusiasm for Rotary showed when he said he believes Rotary International should be in contention for the Nobel Prize for eliminating polio and for the current finding that the labs built around the world to track polio have also been able to make early detection of the Ebola virus and recently halted an outbreak.
He briefly outlined Rotary’s history and highpoints, from its beginning in the early 20th century, to its becoming international, developing the Rotary Foundation, admitting women and adopting the 4-way test.
His philosophy is that Rotary should be a vital part of its members’ lives.
“I want to be interesting and I want Rotary to be interesting. I want Rotarians to have fun, be daring, do something new and act, following the 4-way test which is what Rotary is all about.”
Lawrence Central members Janice Bunker and Fred Aitchison spent a morning going out to Lawrence’s Woodlawn school to provide and fit 9 helmets for kids riding to school who did not have any way to get helmets and were not able to come to the community bicycle rides.
One of Lawrence Central’s goals as a club is to get more and more people to be able to have an active lifestyle but we also want them to be safe. Medical research shows that a bicycle helmet can prevent most cyclist head injuries. Nearly 700 bicycle riders are killed in the U.S. every year, almost all in collisions with cars, and sadly 75% of them die of head injuries. Many thousands more suffer less severe but still debilitating injuries that are far worse than the physical pain of scraped skin or even broken bones.
Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1978 by Christian missionary and lawyer, Millard Fuller, in the belief that everyone should have a “safe, decent place to call home.”
New Habitat executive director in Lawrence, Erika Zimmerman, and Habitat Board President Lindsey Slater, told Lawrence Central Rotarians on Wednesday that since 1990 Habitat has built 88 homes in Lawrence. And In 2005 Habitat opened the ReStore at 7th and Connecticut which accepts and resells new and used building material, furniture and appliances with the proceeds going to support Habitat.
“Lawrence is unique,” Zimmerman said “in that we have unusual resources in terms of donated time, labor, art, furniture, you name it.”
Families who don’t nave money to buy a home without assistance but have a stable income, no excessive debt and will commit to 225 hours of sweat equity are eligible. They take classes and make monthly mortgage payments. Their income must fall between the HUD Median income guidelines.
“The houses cost around $85,000 to build , primarily by volunteer labor, and are sold to the families through no interest mortgages. The payments don’t exceed 30% of the family’s income.”
Zimmerman said Habitat’s goals in Lawrence are to build six homes per year by 2018, and to raise $450,000 by then. “Our biggest problem is finding and affording land’” she said.
“And we want to utilize our volunteer pool to the fullest. Millard Fuller said ‘The work of Habitat has literally moved forward on the shoulders of volunteers.’ “
For more information about the Lawrence chapter of Habitat visit their website.
Kansas University Distinguished Professor of Architecture, Dan Rockhill, spoke about his award winning program that provides senior architecture students with “hands on” experience in designing and building unique structures. Rockhill teaches an intensive class that produces a prefabricated structure designed, built and installed by students. Participants learn skills on the job including design, working with city officials and neighborhood associations, and actual construction. Rockhill believes his class promotes engagement, creativity and practical experience. The results of the program may be viewed in a number of Kansas cities and on campus or on the web site at Studio804.com. Rockhill receives no special funding from the university so the structures built each year are sold and the proceeds are put back into the program for the next class. Sale homes may be viewed at Rockhillandassociates.com. The structures are quite modern in appearance and are built to a high standard of sustainability and energy efficiency. Recycled building materials are often utilized, like aluminum scraps , limestone tailings and even chalkboard. Homes are often placed in the urban core and in 2008 Rockhill’s students built a community arts center in tornado damaged Greensburg, Kansas. Rockhill has written extensively about his work and he has received numerous awards for architecture and sustainability.
Here’s a great time-lapse from the Studio 804 site of the East Lawrence Passive House, being built. Having broken ground in January the studio went through all aspects of constructing this house which hopes to attain the status of LEED Platinum, Passive House and Net Zero certifications becoming one of the most sustainable homes in the city of Lawrence and the State of Kansas.
A “Big” can change a life of a “Little” when matched up in a mentor relationship. This was the message Mia Gonzales, Development Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, brought to the September 31 meeting. Bigs are caring adults who volunteer to spend at least an hour a week for a year building a friendship with a “Little”—a child in need of some extra guidance and encouragement. These kids come from single parent homes, from alcohol and drug addiction backgrounds, and are living at or below the poverty level. Kids enter the program as walk-ins or are referred from schools or social agencies. Participating families are assigned a case worker who makes a complimentary match with a carefully screened volunteer. Research shows that kids benefit significantly from a mentor relationship and show growth in skills and confidence. Youth with Bigs are less likely to skip school, be involved with violence, or use drugs. They are more likely to improve academic performance, improve self-esteem and attend a 4-year college. Adult mentors also find great satisfaction from these relationships. The organization also provides programs and mixers for Bigs and Littles.
There are 250 active matches presently in Douglas county and there is a waiting list of 75 to 100 kids. The organization also faces financial challenges as grant sources for non profits disappear. Find out more about Big Brothers Big Sisters, or volunteer by going to the web site: Douglas.KansasBigs.org.
Mia showed a powerful video that is a true story of how being in a young person’s life can have amazing outcomes, we’ve posted it below.
Mark your calendars! Wednesday Oct 7th is the official day that Lawrence Schools are encouraging students to walk or bike to school.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department had a great website with information about finding the best routes to your local school and even has maps.
From the website: “Be Active Safe Routes is a local movement to create safe opportunities for children to bike and walk to and from schools. The goal is to get children moving again and to reverse the growing rate of childhood obesity.
In 1969, approximately 50 percent of children in the U.S. walked or biked to school. Today, fewer than 15 percent do. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent and less healthy.
“The research is pretty clear that kids who walk and bike to school are more active. They will be healthier and perform better in school.” – Community Health Director Chris Tilden.”
Margaret Weisbrod Morris is an artist, arts administrator and advocate active in the arts education and non-profit community. As the Chief Program Officer at the Lawrence Arts Center, Morris leads an extensive community arts education program that delivers over 500 classes a year to over 9,000 students in all arts media to students age 3 to 103. Since her arrival at the Lawrence Arts Center, she has pioneered the development and implementation of a model STEAM education curriculum, underwritten by the energy industry and recognized by the Hearst Foundation. She serves as the lead contributor and editor for major agency publications and grants, and serves as the public liaison for the Arts Center on matters of education and cultural policy. Before moving to Kansas, she started her career working as a prop artist for children’s television, eventually creating studio art and art therapy programs for non-profit organizations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and provided training on the use of art with people affected by violent crime. Ms. Morris is an active presenter and author, presenting in national forums such as the Arts Education Partnership’s National Forum, the National Association for State Arts Agencies National Assembly, National Art Education Association’s National Conference and the Americans for the Arts – Arts Education blog salon. She has served as a panelist for the US Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, Mid America Arts Alliance and the Oklahoma Arts Council. Margaret Weisbrod Morris holds a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and studied with Edith Kramer, the founder of the field of art therapy, to get her M.A. degree from New York University.
She works with six people on her team at the Arts Center, along with three full time artists in residence as well as a variety of visiting artists and faculty. Morris pulls all this together while also giving talks such as the one she gave as a new member of Lawrence Central Rotary.
“Research shows that children who regularly study the arts are likely to show much higher academic achievement and be concerned, voting citizens of their communities,” she said.
In Kansas, one school credit in an art form is required for graduation. The most common art form found in public schools is music. Morris and the Arts Center staff work to compliment what students learn during the school day in out-of-school arts education. They present classes in art, theater, sculpture, digital media, photography, printing, film, to name a few. “In a regular class room, teachers don’t always have the time spend hours trying to figure out solutions,” Morris said “so we fill the gap by constructing a place where there is the time, setting and support for people to test ideas, make mistakes, persevere, and realize a goal. These are the fundamental skills of innovation and invention. Since more and more of our economy will be driven by innovative thinking in the future, we do our part to help foster this.”
From Library Executive Director Kathleen Morgan, “Summer Reading is an important annual program for our entire community. Not only does it provide great summertime entertainment, but it also is essential to preventing summer learning loss in Lawrence’s kids. Numerous studies show that students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities over the summer. Low income students who do not have access to these important summer learning activities are particularly at risk. Thanks to your help, 4,176 of Lawrence’s kids, teens, and adults chose to spend their summer at Lawrence Public Library and read nearly 35,000 books and attended 258 library programs.”
Our latest ride held Saturday September 19th starting in the Haskell Indian Nations University stadium parking lot delighted more than 100 guests riding along the Burroughs Creek Trail. Members of Lawrence Central Rotary with the help of our sponsors and though applying for grants and fundraisers were able to hand out all of the 80 bright neon safety vests we purchased and fitted 42 brand new helmets (mostly to children) to keep them safe while riding their bike not just that day but for many days, weeks, and months to come.
But, that just speaks to the numbers. Everyone who attended had a great morning and the participants had fun… and that is the key thing. People having fun, being active, using their bikes, possibly seeing new trails, and meeting new friends along the way.
We look forward to seeing even more people again next summer for more Lawrence Community Bike rides!
Four new members of Lawrence Central Rotary engaged in a panel discussion at the September 16 meeting and, while they work in very different professions, it became obvious that they have a lot in common.
Serving as moderator, Rotary President Kate Campbell asked each of the four, Steve Mason, Margaret Weisbrod Morris, Janis Bunker and Paul Radley, three questions:
- How did you get involved with service organizations
- What are family traditions in your family, and
- Describe what you think is a perfect day.
Three of them, Radley, an architectural engineer with Professional Engineering Consultants, Mason, a programmer for Lawrence Parks and Recreation and Bunker, senior vice-president and trust officer of Trust Company of Kansas, all said they were invited by friends to join a service group. Both Mason and Morris , program officer for the Lawrence Arts Center, said they were influenced by their parents who were active volunteers in service organizations.
“I come from a family where community service was important. My parents were early workers in the civil rights movement,” Morris said.
Family traditions all involve get-togethers with extended family. Bunker’s family has a Christmas eve tradition, Radley’s family times are during summer vacations at a family compound in Minnesota, while Morris’s family goes to an island near Seattle. Mason’s family times all involve music. “Birthdays, any time we get together, turn into a jam session,” he said.
A favorite day for Radley, Morris and Bunker begins with sleeping late, while Mason is up and out—preferably on his bike.
President Campbell said she plans on more panels like this one that will include long-time members.