Grant Spotlights: Walker Scottish Rite Clinic

Each year, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet award funds to programs serving women and children in the St. Louis metro area through the Feuerbacher Grant Program. The program was established through a bequest from Father Ed Feuerbacher and, since its inception in 2005, the program has supported 49 organizations that are acquainted with a CSJ sister or associate and consistent with CSJ values.

In this grant spotlight, we feature Walker Scottish Rite Clinic, a 2017 recipient of a Feuerbacher Grant, funding help for children with speech and language disorders.

By Abby Blaes, communications intern

The Walker Scottish Rite Clinic’s mission is to teach children with speech and language disorders the communication skills necessary to succeed in school and throughout their lives. The key to their success is through early identification and long-term therapy and by training parents to use techniques with their children at home. Jacob Gutshall, clinic director for Walker Scottish Rite Clinic, answered some questions about the grant and about this organization.

Q: How have the funds received from the Feuerbacher Grant helped to better your organization?

Jacob Gutshall: The Feuerbacher Grant supports direct speech and language therapy intervention for at-risk Spanish speaking children in St. Louis City.  Because of the funds received from the Feuerbacher Grant, the Walker Scottish Rite Clinic is able to maintain a full time bilingual speech-language pathologist on staff who specializes in the treatment of communication disorders of this multi-cultural population.   

Q: Describe some of the programs that your organization has begun to implement.

JG: Through the generosity of the Feuerbacher funds, the Walker Scottish Rite Clinic is able to maintain a partnership with SouthSide Early Childhood Center, a Head Start program in St. Louis City serving children that live in poverty.  Through this partnership, the clinic provides screenings, evaluations, and ongoing therapy to Spanish speaking children who demonstrate a speech and/or language disorder and who might not otherwise receive the service they need.

Q: What effect has this organization had on the community?  What are the outcomes you have observed?

JG: Due to lack of Spanish speaking therapists and access to interpreters, children who speak Spanish often face a tougher time receiving therapy services in comparison to their English speaking peers.  The Walker Scottish Rite Clinic has eliminated these challenges in two ways:  First, we are have eliminated transportation challenges by meeting children where they live in the neighborhoods served by SouthSide Early Childhood Center two mornings per week. Second, we evaluate children in their native language to determine if there is a language difference or a language disorder.  By removing these two barriers, Spanish speaking children with speech and/or language delays have access to services that might otherwise go undiagnosed and untreated.  When children receive care in their native language, their frustration levels drop, their behavior improves, they strengthen communication and relationships within the family, and begin to thrive with increased access to learning at home and school. 

Over the past year our bilingual therapist has served 34 Spanish speaking clients through speech and language screenings, evaluations, therapy, and audiology evaluations.  Many of these families brought their children to the Walker Scottish Rite Clinic after they did not qualify for services elsewhere.  The Feuerbacher Grant funds have been essential in providing the continuity of services for our Spanish speaking families. 

Q: Why do you feel your organization is important in today’s society?

JG: The Walker Scottish Rite Clinic is currently the only free speech and language clinic with a dedicated commitment to serving Spanish speaking preschoolers in the St. Louis area through our KidTalk Spanish program.  The Spanish speaking population has continued to grow. Because of our commitment, we are able to reach the children who need our services most in their native language.  Furthermore, we stand as a model for other clinicians so that they can learn how to better serve multicultural preschool age children in our community.  

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