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Sewickley Kiwanis Club steps up to help Laughlin center

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

As the director of Laughlin Children's Center in Sewickley, Doug Florey knows the importance of donations.

So when a Sewickley Kiwanis Club member showed up about a year ago at the Frederick Avenue nonprofit — which helps preschool through high school-aged children through educational services, speech-language screenings and other counseling — Florey said he was happy to find unsolicited help from a community organization.

“We had been talking about iPads and speech-related apps for the kids to use,” he said. But cost and a source of funds delayed the process for considering upgrading educational technology.

Since last summer, the Kiwanis Club has purchased iPads and speech-related software for departments at Laughlin, and offered a grant for an audiometer for the center's Gateway to Language program. The group purchased software that uses biometrics to help children improve their speech.

“It was nice for the Kiwanis Club to recognize that the piece of equipment and software would really make a substantial difference,” Florey said.

A new audiometer means the center's Gateway to Language Coordinator Jill Eckert can offer better speech-and-hearing screenings, Florey said.

Eckert visits about 36 area preschools and single-handedly screens more than 1,000 kids for speech and hearing delays, Florey said.

“These kids are recommended to have full-blown evaluations, so that the cause of the delay can be determined,” he said. “If it wasn't for Jill, some of these kids would go for several years before having another screening.

“As you can imagine, a 3-year-old who has a hearing problem can miss out on a lot of things if he or she goes undiagnosed for a couple of years.

The Kiwanis Club always is looking for groups to work with around Sewickley, President Bob Bagans said.

“We just thought of the Laughlin Center as a good place,” he said.

“We just keep our ears attuned to things, and if we hear of a need, we take action if we have the money. That's our purpose of being. We exist in Sewickley to provide support to youth programming and services.”

The group supports other community needs.

In recent years, the Kiwanis Club donated $1,000 to the Sewickley Community Center food bank, Bagans said.

The group's major fundraising event is the annual Harvest Festival, held last Saturday in Sewickley. The group partners with the Rotary Club to organize the event.

“We used to have an annual patron program where we would send letters to people, asking for support,” Bagans said. Since Harvest Fest has been so successful, we have not had the need to do that.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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