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Chamber Member Spotlight - Sunflower Diversified Services, Inc.

Check out our Chamber Member Spotlight this week!

Sunflower Diversified Services, Inc.

Debbie McCormick, Director of Marketing with Sunflower Diversified Services, Inc. was interviewed by us. We are excited to have Sunflower Diversified Services join us again as Chamber Members for 2019! They bring so much to our community and surrounding communities.

Check out all the services Sunflower Diversified provides!

. . .

Sunflower Diversified Services, Inc.

1521 K-96 HWY

Great Bend, KS 67530



When did you come to Ellinwood for business?

In 1960 nine families, by the grace of God, happened to hear about each other and the fact that they had something very precious in common - small children with learning disabilities. They all agreed to get together and start meeting with one goal in mind - to determine how they could best help their children develop more like normal children.

In the ’50s & the ’60s, most families simply placed their children into institutions because they weren’t trained how to care for their children who were born with intellectual disabilities. But these families were more determined than that. They started meeting monthly as a support group and to research ways to develop a curriculum that could possibly help their children improve their developmental skills. In 1963, they officially became the Barton County Association for Retarded Children. It is entertaining to read in the monthly meeting minutes about their early meetings and how they would talk about their kids, brainstorm training curriculum ideas and they always ended the meetings with coffee, cookies or pie. The women would take turns baking for each monthly meeting.

Eventually, they were able to secure a portion of the Jefferson Grade School in Great Bend Kansas which turned into the Jefferson School Special Ed classroom. They quickly grew to 68 members and they decided to grow their service model to include school-age children, young adults, and older adults. In 1966, they began meeting in their newly built facility which was located on south main just across the Arkansas River bridge. The new facility was a metal building built on land donated by Charles Hulme.

In 1969, the Dominican Sisters wanted to help and they proposed to ARC that a stand-alone program is developed for adults. ARC quickly endorsed the Sister's proposal and the program HOPE was born. HOPE started serving 12 adults on the 3rd floor of the old St. Rose Hospital on Broadway in Great Bend, Kansas. In 1970, the Kansas Legislature introduced and passed House Bill 1379 authorizing other Kansas counties to establish similar comprehensive programs as Barton County ARC & HOPE had done. They saw the difference that formal training and support could make in the lives of people with developmental disabilities. The legislative bill also gave Counties the authority to levy tax support for services specifically designed to help our intellectually disabled citizens in Kansas.

In 1972, HOPE, Inc. and ARC Children’s Program consolidated into one single service organization. In 1976 this organization became Sunflower Diversified Services. And now each year, this organization serves over 125 adults, 36 to 42 Preschool-age children and 120 to 140 infants from birth to 3 years old.

What makes your business unique?

One area of our business that sets us apart from others is the tiny-k program. We are 1 of 33 programs in a statewide tiny-k network serving children with developmental delays and/or disabilities from birth to age 3. Our tiny-k services are available at no cost to children in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush, and Stafford counties. Sunflower Diversified Services is the only agency that offers early intervention services to children from birth to age 3 in our service area. The tiny-k program provides the foundation for continuity of services after the child moves into preschool and beyond.

What is your career path?

Debbie McCormick, Director of Marketing with Sunflower Diversified Services, Inc. is a Barton County native and currently resides in Ellinwood, KS with her husband and three daughters. She is one of the founders and an active member of Caregivers Count, a group designed to support and assist parents and guardians of special needs children.

Prior to joining the Sunflower team, Debbie worked for 16 years at Benefit Management, LLC where she was an account manager for their state high-risk health insurance pools in Alaska, Kansas, Iowa, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Washington, and Nebraska. She later served as the Vice President of Client Services, overseeing both government and commercial accounts.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In Debbie's spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and traveling.



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