Washington, D.C. — Academic institutions and educational organizations in Kansas and Missouri were awarded federal grants of more than $1.2 million to train mental health providers and expand community efforts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.
The grants were among $99 million disbursed by HHS under the Obama administration’s “Now Is the Time” plan aimed at reducing gun violence, increasing access to mental health services and making schools safer, according to a department news release.
“The Administration is committed to increasing access to mental health services to protect the health of children and communities,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. “Today, I am pleased to announce another step the Department is taking to help ensure that our young people have access to the mental health services they need to reach their full potential.”
Awards to educate and train mental health professionals include:
• University of Kansas Center for Research in Lawrence, $242,857.
• University of Missouri-Kansas City, $132,924.
• University of Missouri-St. Louis, $312,807.
• Saint Louis University, $77,681.
• Washington University in St. Louis, $146,143.
• Junior College District of Metropolitan Kansas City, Mo., $299,712.
Local educational agency grants for Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) include:
• Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, Girard, $97,884.
• Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools, $99,960.
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A recent example of Metro Lutheran Ministry’s effective volunteer program involves construction at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 722 Reynolds, in Kansas City, Kan.
The site of MLM’s Wyandotte County Community Care Center, the project included installation of three showers on two floors, along with installation of a washer and dryer. One of the showers is handicapped accessible. People who visit the Saturday breakfast program or the weekday pantry can now perform basic hygiene that, for the homeless, is often impossible. Not only does it add significantly to health and comfort, it makes other things more possible, especially much needed job interviews.
The story behind the effort involves MLM board member Duane Dean, who owns Miller Stauch Construction Company, which is only a few blocks from the church. He heard through MLM that the church pastors had mentioned the need and acted.
“Basically, we wanted to make it a good situation for people who don’t have access to showers and laundry facilities,” Dean explained. “Now when people come in to have breakfast or pick up food supplies, they have access to this. Some are living on the street and really need a place to go and clean up.”
Dean said the effort was not difficult for his commercial construction company, but with his experience volunteering at MLM Saturday breakfasts and now serving as a volunteer board member, he had no doubt about the need.
“We were grateful to be part of it,” he said. “I thought, ‘Here’s something that we can do where we can help people in the community.’ It’s a real need, so to have the opportunity to help out is something that doesn’t come along often.”
He’s seen other MLM successes since first becoming aware of the organization through St. Luke’s co-pastors Scott Eberlein and Luke Kammrath.
“I just got hooked there,” he laughed. “I thought, ‘These guys are serious. They have a great program and mean business.’ That makes it easy to make a decision to lend a hand. Otherwise, how do you break the cycle? How do you break the chain?”