Local United Way kicks off drive with bus tour.

United Way hosted their annual fundraiser kick-off Thursday morning as they allowed attendees to see four of their partner agencies which benefit from the fundraising efforts.

The morning started at the Shawnee Municipal Auditorium at 8 a.m. More than 20 participants were driven to Gateway to Prevention and Recovery, the Shawnee Rescue Mission, South Central Industries, and the American Red Cross, which was hosted at Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Tina Hanna, with South Central Industries, said the tour gave citizens the opportunity to see the services the organization provides, including vocational services and vocational training to the developmentally disabled.

“We were honored to be one of the tour stops today because we are always excited to educate the Shawnee community on the services South Central Industries provides,” Hanna said.

She added that 50 individuals are assisted with vocational services and training, and 12 individuals receive residential assistance.

“The United Way helps us serve our clients by improving their daily skills,” Hanna said.

Jan Tipton, with Gateway to Prevention and Recovery, said she is glad her organization was one of the stops, allowing attendees to see the services the organization provides.

“They don’t usually get to see where their money goes,” Tipton said. “They brought them by to see – touch, feel, see – the place their money is going.”

Gateway provides assistance in addiction prevention, as well as addiction recovery. Tipton said emphasis is placed on under-age drinking and prescription drug abuse.

Most of the United Way funding for Gateway goes to Shawnee Youth Coalition, a group of youth who want to help the community and under-privileged youth in the community.

“We give them an opportunity to help,” Tipton said.

In addition to strategic planning for the community improvement, the coalition hosts a two-week summer camp on sports and arts for underprivileged children in the community.