WRAP receives anonymous gift, local support to expand program

Charlie Kuszmaul, WRAP coordinator.

Charlie Kuszmaul, WRAP coordinator. by Jeff Burkhead

During the past three years, more than 1,600 people have attended a Discover Bert Nash event — a community outreach program that highlights stories about people whose lives have been changed through services they received at the mental health center.

At each of the more than 100 Discover Bert Nash events that have been held, one of the recovery stories that is shared involves WRAP (Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities), a program that places a mental health clinician in schools.

It would be hard to calculate the impact of sharing stories about people whose lives have been changed because of Bert Nash, but after every Discover event at least people leave knowing more about the mental health services available to residents of Douglas County. They may even be moved to help support the work of the Center.

One such person, who chose to remain anonymous, after attending one of the Discover Bert Nash events, donated $50,000 to the Bert Nash Center. The money was earmarked for the WRAP program. “That was gratifying to get that gift,” said Bert Nash CEO David Johnson. “We have been working to tell the story about WRAP and the importance of providing services to kids. The donor preferred to remain anonymous, so all we can do is assume they had connected with WRAP in some way. We’re using the gift as a continued incentive to make sure we are telling the story about WRAP, because you never know how it will touch people. But I think the increased funding is a direct result of sharing our story.”

On the behalf of the WRAP program and the entire Center, Johnson expressed gratitude for the generosity of the anonymous gift.

“You’d like to be able to go to this person and say thank you, because we are so excited to receive this gift and we are so thankful to the donor,” the Bert Nash CEO said. “This gift will make a big difference in the WRAP program.”

The $50,000 donation will be used to help fund a WRAP position for the first time at Bishop Seabury Academy.

There was a time when there was a WRAP worker in every school in Douglas County. But because of the loss of grant money and funding cuts, the program was scaled back. Charlie Kuszmaul, WRAP coordinator, is grateful for the financial support that will help the WRAP program to expand again. Besides the $50,000 donation, the city of Lawrence has included $335,000 for the WRAP program in its 2016 budget. The city money will fund five new WRAP positions.

“In Lawrence, we’ve been out of the elementary schools since 2008,” Bert Nash CEO Johnson said. “This will be an opportunity to see children in the elementary schools again, which has been a real concern.”

Bert Nash is working closely with the Lawrence School District to determine the placement of the additional WRAP clinicians. Currently, there is a WRAP clinician at both high schools and all four middle schools in Lawrence, as well as Bishop Seabury Academy. There is also a WRAP clinician at the Eudora Elementary School, and Bert Nash has a full-time child and family therapist in Eudora.

“It is always about where you can do the most good and help the most kids,” WRAP team leader Kuszmaul said.

Janice Storey, Child and Family Services director at the Bert Nash Center, is grateful for the local support that keeps the WRAP program growing, because the needs of kids are also growing.

“This really speaks to the city’s commitment to making sure the children in this area are getting their needs met,” Storey said of the city funding for the WRAP program. “And without the partnership with the school district there would not be a WRAP program. So this funding is really good timing and speaks to what the community is willing to do to make sure kids’ needs are met.”

Tagged: David Johnson, Bert Nash

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