Sedgwick County’s community mental health center Comcare will be getting support for its operations through a partnership with a new nonprofit.
The creation of Comcare Community Partners marks the beginning of a new public-private partnership for Comcare. Sedgwick County will retain oversight of the mental health agency, while Comcare Community Partners focuses on fundraising.
Real estate developer Jason Van Sickle founded the new group and will serve as its chairman.
"Over the years, local, state and federal funding has been shrinking for nonprofits and community organizations like Comcare, so we just want to make sure through fundraising and more public involvement that Comcare continues to provide its valuable services," he says.
Comcare is the largest community mental health center in Kansas, but it lacks formal fundraising and development activities. Most community mental health centers in the state already use these options to supplement their funding stream.
Van Sickle approached Comcare about a year ago with the idea of forming a nonprofit “sister organization” to support the agency’s operations. The goal is to bring in an outside business perspective and expertise to help enhance the agency’s efficiency.
"It’s kind of like coming in and saying that we respect the history of Comcare and everything it’s provided Wichita and Sedgwick County over the last 50 years, and we want to ensure that continues for another 50 years," Van Sickle says.
The group will launch a volunteer program in the next few months to help with Comcare's daily operations.
"We expect to have a large response to our volunteer program," Van Sickle says. "We already have people wanting to sign up and we haven’t even got the program officially in place."
The nonprofit’s board of directors includes Marilyn Cook, executive director of Comcare; Jeff Van Sickle, CEO at GLMV Architecture; John “Joe” Kisner, 18th District Court judge; District Attorney Marc Bennett; David Moses, general counsel for Wichita State University; Harold Casey, CEO of Substance Abuse Center of Kansas; Jeff Easter, Sedgwick County sheriff; Gordon Ramsay, Wichita Police chief; and Dr. Matthew Macaluso of KU School of Medicine-Wichita.
Comcare has about 430 full-time employees and a budget of $41.6 million.
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