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Janet Sevier Gilbreath Award 1997

The Family Life Center of Butler County

1997 Winner
Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award

In 1989, Butler County had active advocates working with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. However, battered women and children needing shelter had to be sent to Wichita and often Wichita shelters were full and transportation was difficult. First United Methodist Church, El Dorado worked on the possibility of a shelter and offered a former parsonage as the site. A non-profit organization was formed to develop and maintain the project--The Family Life Center of Butler County. Since its start in 1990, The Family Life Center has provided temporary shelter to more than 1,068 women and children in its facility, which represents 16,306 shelter nights and 48,918 shelter meals. 1,411 individuals participated in outreach services, 289 of which were KIDSAFE clients.

Services were extended to persons in Harvey, Greenwood, Elk and Sumner Counties, where shelters were not available. The vision for service to those experiencing domestic violence and sexual abuse quickly moved to the totality of services necessary to make permanent differences in lives. A 24-hour crisis hotline started operating in 1990 and has received more than 33,143 calls in the seven-year period. Volunteers accompany clients to court and provide various forms of informal assistance. Support groups serve current and former clients as well as others in the community. In 1994, a children's program, "KIDSAFE," was added. KIDSAFE offers one-to-one intervention and counseling, group prevention and education, one-to-one parenting intervention, parenting classes and after-care. In 1997 alone, 130 children and 72 adults participated in KIDSAFE programming.

Expanded service development is matched with overall agency development. Income sources grew to support annual expenditures of $160,900 in 1997, up from the agency's first year expenditures of $69,000. The stability of excellent program leadership in the person of Lynn Toonen, as Executive Director, has materially assisted the program in its start-up and on-going development. Today five full-time and part-time staff members provide direct services for the Center's clients. A Board of twelve persons governs the program and includes several members who helped start the agency. Quality assurance monitoring is in place and tools for measuring client-centered results are appropriately used.

The Family Life Center of Butler County has been an excellent steward of three grants from UMHMF totaling $190,000, including original start-up funding and expansion funding for KIDSAFE. These grants are obviously some of the best investments ever made by UMHMF. The Family Life Center demonstrates how church and community can combine to produce long-term, life-changing services. This program is a most deserving recipient of the Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award for 1997.

Family Life Center representatives: Lynn Toonen, Executive Director; Mary Jo Grant, Board Chairperson; Ervin Grant, Connie Phillips, and Dennis Kuder, Board Members; Anita Hildreth, Office Manager; Bev Beaman, House Manager; Pat Freeman, Assistant House Manager; and Catherine White-Evans, Case Manager.

Awarded March 11, 1998

Learn more about the Janet Sevier Gilbreath award