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Greiner School in need of funds to fix major problems

LAWTON, Okla_The Robert E. Greiner School for the Handicapped is in desperate need of a make-over. About a month and a half ago, Greiner employees found out the school was infested with asbestos. After the facility was abated, it was in worse condition than it was before, with cracked flooring, hanging ceiling tiles and plants growing into the building. It's in such bad shape students have been relocated to a local church. The new executive director is dedicating herself to fixing the building, and getting the students back to their school.

The school is a non-profit organization. They depend totally on the support of the community. At one time, the school was connected with United Way, but in 2008 their funding was dropped. New Executive Director Schlunda Leslie is trying to get back on board with United Way. She's also applied for three grants, each one of them, she's been denied.

Leslie walked us through the Greiner School. There's a need in every room and around every corner.

"We need total new plumbing, total new electrical. We have to get the ceiling tile, we have to get the floor tile, and we have to get trees dug up to stop the foundation from cracking."

Until these expensive problems are fixed, the students at Greiner are spending their days at a church off Cache Road. This is their third move since the asbestos abatement. Among the students tired of moving from location to location is 35 year old Marlena. Her mother is on the board and said the constant uprooting that has been going on lately is frustrating to the students.

"This is home away from home and people don't understand that."

The changes confuse them and they wonder if they'll even have a school to come to anymore.

"One of the students came up to me and said, 'is our school closed down?' and I said no who told you that and he said, 'well, my mom.' I said, your school's not closed. I'm working very hard to get you back in the school and he grabbed me and hugged me and started clapping his hands," Leslie said.

Leslie has only been with the school since July and at first the job wasn't all that desirable.

"I'm going to be honest with you, when I first pulled up to the building, I said, this is not a school."

Her feelings changed, the moment she met a Greiner student.

"The student came up to me and gave me a big hug and said are you going to be our new director? And I looked at the student and I said, if you'll have me I will." 

Since that day, this project has consumed her. She said since becoming executive director at the Greiner School, her whole outlook on life has changed.

"I didn't realize the need for special people like them. I don't want to call them handicapped or mentally retarded, they're special. I have more of a sincerity in life, just for the human race, period."

Schlunda Leslie said topping the priority list is getting the electrical and plumbing problems solved. She's hoping to get those services done for free.

There is a fundraiser planned for December 15th at the school at 10 a.m. There will be a bazaar and a fish fry and anyone is welcome to check out the facility and donate.

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