County gives $137,000 to struggling club for mentally ill

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WICHITA -- Weeks after a local club lost a bulk of its funding, the Sedgwick County Commission is offering $137,000 in temporary help.

Breakthrough Club lost a $275,000 grant through Comcare last month, and its organizers planned on shutting down the program by Jan. 1. The club helps more than 300 mentally ill people in the county each year get jobs and thrive in the community.

"We are a vital part of the community," said executive director Barbara Andrew. "And without us, people are really at risk at becoming homeless or ending up in jail or in the hospital, so we really want to keep this program going because we keep people in jobs, we keep people in their education."

Andres said the money an early Christmas gift for the group, but says the money is just a short-term fix. The money covers half of Breakthrough's operating expenses, meaning it will only have enough money to stay afloat until July.

Though she worries of the future of Breakthrough, Andres said the club is exploring additional fundraising options, like with state and federal grants.

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