Four grassroots projects proposed by Lawrence citizens and aimed at bringing health care services directly to residents in need have been awarded grants through a program funded by the Wesley Foundation of Wichita.
In the first program of its kind in Kansas, "minigrants" totaling $5,840 will create a teen-age pregnancy speakers' bureau, a nutrition program for women in a substance abuse recovery program and a program to bring breast cancer information to women.
A small amount of funding also was awarded the Citizens Advisory Council on Health Care Concerns, which is a group of Lawrence residents who meet regularly to identify and work out solutions to health care problems in Douglas County.
Proposals for minigrants were evaluated by the Douglas County Coalition of Community Health Concerns, a representative of the Wesley Foundation, and the Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development, which comprises representatives of the Kansas University department of human development and family life.
THE WESLEY Foundation, which is a philanthropic organization concerned with health care issues, awarded $10,000 to the United Way of Douglas County for distibution to groups selected by the coalition. It is the first such grant program in Kansas.
Originally, there were 14 local applications for grant funding. Adrienne Paine, a member of the coalition and a graduate student in KU's HDFL program, said the remainder of the $10,000 is expected to be awarded in the spring when additional grant proposals are sought.
The process leading to the minigrants began with a public meeting at which community members identified health care issues and possible solutions. The KU group then surveyed the community to identify strengths and weaknesses in area health care.
Major problems identified in the survey included the lack of affordable medical and dental treatment, health insurance and quality day care.
THE CITIZENS Advisory Committee on Health Care Concerns actually received two grant awards.
Besides $540 to cover the ongoing costs of holding group meetings to help solve health care problems, the group was also awarded $2,300 to put together information and help women concerned about breast cancer.
Sharon Luka, spokeswoman for the advisory committee, said the group will concentrate on getting information about the need for women to have mammograms to aid in the early detection of breast cancer. She also said the group will put the information together in ways that the blind and the hearing-impaired can benefit from it.
A grant of $1,000 was awarded the "First Step Nutrition" program at the First Step House in Lawrence, a reintegration program for women recovering from substance abuse.
LOU ANN Holl, director of First Step House, said the money will be used to provide books about nutrition to residents of First Step House. Money also will go toward hiring a dietitian to give talks to residents and help train the facility supervisor about nutrition.
Like the other projects, the teen speakers bureau will use grant money to bring information directly to people whom they hope to help.
Nancy Jorn, chairperson of the Teen Pregnancy and Parenting Network in Douglas County, said the $2,100 award will be used to pay people who have experienced teen-age pregnancy to develop a program to tell teen-agers how the pregnancy affected their lives.
By giving personal examples, Jorn said, the panel may help other teen-agers avoid pregnancy.