Lawton_A school that devotes itself to helping and caring for handicapped youngsters has taken a big financial hit that amounts to one-third of the budget for the Greiner School. The school has been a part of the Lawton/Ft. Sill community for more than 40 years.
Lou Whitely is the longtime director and says that since the Untied Way has removed the school from its list of agencies, they will have to find other pockets to provide for their students. Whitely was extremely let down. In fact - he feels betrayed.
The school's 32 students sang a song for reporter Andrea Charles when she arrived to talk to Whitely. He says the kids don't understand what's going on yet; but, they'll be the ones to suffer. "Yeah it hurts but the only reason we're here - the only reason our staff is here - is this school was built on love," he said.
Love - and a lot of money from the United Way. The school was notified in August it would be dropped from the United Way list. The letter Whitely got from them informs the school that it has had too many deficiencies over the past 13 years.
United Way Executive Director Eileen Jensen says that this wasn't a malicious attack on Greiner. She says every year, a volunteer visits all of the potential agencies. They go over records to make sure the agency's need is a real one. It also determines if the agency has met the necessary requirements to qualify for aid.
"Unfortunately, with Greiner School, we have had problems over the past many years," said Jensen. She stated volunteers visit each potential agency every year, going over records to ensure the need for United Way funding is real and that requirements are met to qualify for aid with specific guidelines to be followed.
She said the decision to drop Greiner was not made lightly. It went through three different groups of board members and volunteers. The final decision was made by the board members: unanimous to drop the school as an agency.
"So, it wasn't made easily and it wasn't made in a split second. It's been a along time decision and it really does bother us to have to make a decision for an agency like that, we wish them well," said Jensen. Whitely says the school will have to learn to make it without the United Way's support. He stresses he has faith in the community and of of the volunteers who come out to support these students.