Outreach – Gutru

Gutru Outreach to our Community

By the UCC Outreach Committee

Eleven years ago, UCC member, Robert Gutru, made two generous gifts to the UCC Endowment Foundation, each valued at approximately $100,000.  His intent was that five percent of the gift be annually awarded for charitable purposes and especially for “families in need who have children facing physical and mental disabilities.” He also requested that funds be directed to support “people handicapped by blindness or significantly impaired vision.”  Mr. Gutru directed responsibility for identifying gift recipients to the Outreach Committee.
After soliciting written proposals from community nonprofit organizations, this year we awarded $9,842 from the 2018 Gutru distribution as follows:
1.  Scholarships for Camp Woodchuck, hosted by Rainbows United.  This is the only summer program for school-age children in our community that serves children with developmental disabilities who also have mobility limitations and challenging behaviors.  Gutru funds underwrote scholarships for families unable to afford camp tuition.  Their children engage in fun and learning-retentive activities. Additionally, staff buddies, largely college students, provide mentoring and role modeling for socially-appropriate behavior.  The program strengthens families by reducing parental stress and giving children valuable experiences they would not otherwise have.
2.  Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth Camps.  Gutru funds provided scholarships that make it possible for children with varying degrees of hearing loss to attend day camp at Camp Hyde with their peers.  According to long-time camp volunteer and UCC member Grace Kneil, this specialized camp builds independence and self-advocacy because children experience opportunities instead of limitations.  One parent’s note captures the camp’s value, “I would have never sent my son who is deaf to camp with his cochlear implant and his lack of ability to communicate. Thank you for making this possible.”
3.  Kansas Chapter, National Alliance on Mental Illness.  NAMI provides education and support to families with young children who are admitted to psychiatric hospitals for treatment of mental illness. Our funds will underwrite the costs of crisis information bags for families/caregivers of children in crisis. Bags are given out at hospitals when children are diagnosed.  UCC members Connie and Mert Buckley are active members of the Kansas chapter of this organization.
4.  The Arc of Sedgwick County.  Our grant funds weekly camp scholarships for YESS, a ten-week specialized education and socialization program for children with intellectual disabilities.  In its 31st year, YESS is a partnership among The Arc, Wichita Schools, Wichita Park Department, and the United Way.  UCC member Marla Flentje was one of the founding parents of the YESS program and is an Arc member.
The Robert Gutru gift continues to advance our UCC “church in the world” presence and is truly a gift that keeps on giving.