Gutru Outreach to our Community
By the UCC Outreach Committee
Ten 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 proposals from community organizations, this year we allocated the funds as follows:
1. Scholarships for Camp Woodchuck, a summer camp 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. The funds underwrote scholarships for families unable to afford camp tuition. Their children engaged in fun and learning-retentive activities. Additionally, staff buddies, largely college students, provided 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 made 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, 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). NAMI provides education and support to families with young children who are admitted to psychiatric hospitals for treatment of mental illness. Our gift will be used to provide training materials and classroom support for education for parents in crisis. UCC members Connie and Mert Buckley are active members of the Kansas chapter of this organization.
4. Envision, a local nonprofit organization, provides programs and services to children and adults who live with the challenges of blindness and low vision. Our gift of three ADA-accessible iPad computers will support the learning of three students in the Envision Arts curriculum that teaches application of drawing, photography, and wireless searches to real life situations.
The Robert Gutru gift continues to advance our UCC “church in the world” presence and is truly a gift that keeps on giving.