Pioneer Celebration honors center

Keynote Speaker Charles M. Kuszmaul, WRAP coordinator at the Bert Nash Center, speaks at the annual meeting. Last night's event honored late contributor Lynwood Smith, among others.

The Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center is growing in its outreach efforts, and the WRAP program is a prime example of its expansion, a speaker at the center’s 2002 annual meeting said Monday.

The program, Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities, grew to serve students at elementary, junior highs and high schools in Lawrence, Eudora and Baldwin. So far this school year, the program made 19,993 contacts with students, parents and teachers, while serving 1,833 students, said Charlie Kuszmaul, WRAP coordinator.

Kuszmaul was the keynote speaker at Bert Nash’s 2002 annual meeting and 16th annual Pioneer Celebration, which about 200 people attended Monday at the center, 200 Maine.

“It’s really thrilling to be touching all these student’s lives, and I think we make a real difference,” Kuszmaul said.

The WRAP program addresses problems such as attendance, behavior, mental health, substance abuse and violence. The WRAP workers, most of whom are full-time in schools, use counseling and follow-up calls, and can connect students with programs in the community for help, such as the Bert Nash Center or Social and Rehabilitation Services.

And because WRAP workers are in schools, the program works with students and parents who would not typically come to the center seeking help.

“It widens the diversity that Bert Nash sees,” Kuszmaul said.

As a whole, the Bert Nash Center served more than 4,000 people in a year for the first time in 2001. The center also expanded new initiatives with Haskell Indian Nations University, Healthcare Access, Kansas University, Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, Lawrence Police Department and Lawrence/Douglas County Promise, the center reported Monday in its 2001 Progress Report.

At the meeting, the 16th annual Pioneer Award was awarded posthumously to Lynwood Smith, who served as chair of the Governing Board of Directors until his death at age 72 in February.

Smith, a retired doctor, at the Mayo Clinic, helped spearhead Bert Nash’s Community Summit in early 2001, and worked to promote awareness of the link between mental and physical health.

His wife, Marty Smith, accepted the award and said her husband was always excited to attend board meetings and visit the center.

“You would have thought he was going fishing,” she said of his excitement for the center. “If Lyn were here tonight, he’d be overwhelmed that you chose to honor him with this award.”