Gena Clounch and Mary Ann Arnott have committed their time to aiding others in Allen County; and aren’t afraid of taking on more.
Both are members of the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Clounch is a board member and Arnott is a member of its Community Advisory Committee. HCF is a non-profit organization that serves a distinct area in Missouri and Kansas, including Allen County. The foundation was formed after Health Midwest (which owned 11 hospitals in the area) was bought by the Hospital Corporation of America in 2002.
The transaction included a non-profit organization, Health Midwest, being purchased by a for-profit organization, HCA, thus creating a trust foundation.
Overall, 80 percent of the funds ($400 million) went to HCF, and the remaining $100 million went to the REACH Healthcare Foundation — both of which include Allen County in their service regions.
Clounch said the dollars, awarded through grants, are meant to improve the lives of those living in the represented counties.
“There have been a lot of grants awarded,” Clounch said. “It’s very important, when you see the list of grantees.”
Clounch and Arnott met with The Register to outline their involvement with the foundation, and how its work needs to be recognized now more than ever.
“We do have a community of all ranges” of needs, Arnott said. “Healthy living is so important to everyone.”
HCF has given grants to multiple entities in Allen County, including:
— SAFE BASE
— Elm Creek Community Garden
— Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas
— USD 258 (Humboldt) after-school program
— The Southwind Rail Trail
— The City of Elsmore
Arnott, who has lived in Iola for 41 years, said there is grant money waiting for the right individual to make good use of it. As a member of the Community Advisory Committee, Arnott was appointed by the mayor.
“My heart was on helping people in their health needs,” she said.
Clounch is originally from Iola, and was appointed to fill Bob Talkington’s position on the board in 2007, and then decided to serve another term. Her position is voted on by the CAC. Both the board and CAC meet six times a year, and Clounch and Arnott said the groups are made up of a wide array of individuals.
“They really try to have diverse types of people,” Arnott said.
Clounch said there are 21 members on the board (she is the only Allen County representative) and 24 members on the CAC. Members range from professional medical doctors and lawyers, to those heavily involved in their communities.
“I still have a lot to learn,” Clounch said with a laugh.
ALLEN COUNTY’s needs may not be unique to other problems in southeast Kansas, but Arnott and Clounch said there are certain things that need to be addressed before significant change can be made.
“Long-standing poverty” is the county’s Achille’s Heel, they said, and it filters through all aspects of its citizens health and well-being.
“Poorer people live for today, and they’ll figure out tomorrow tomorrow,” Clounch said of their health choices. She said many people are put in a position where health issues are not their main concern, and grants through the HCF are meant to help change those lifestyles.
“There’s another way to live, and we give them the means to grasp it,” Arnott said.
“It’s an individual choice, but they have to have a starting point,” Clounch added.
Grant funds are currently available through the foundation, and Clounch said they are just waiting for good ideas. Funds may be awarded to groups or individuals. Arnott said the HCF has resources on its website, kcfgkc.org, to aid in grant writing.
“We just want to trigger someone’s mind to write a grant,” Arnott said. “They (the HCF) will even help you write it.”
Clounch said it just takes a small step to make a big difference in the community, and there are a “wealth of ideas” just waiting to move closer to fruition.
“You just need to plant the seed right,” she said.