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United Way distributes $268K in community grants

This story originally appeared in the Jefferson City News Tribune. Read the full story online: News Tribune Website

The United Way of Central Missouri distributed $268,656 on Tuessday to nonprofits dedicated to improving social services.by Joe Gamm Jun. 29 2021 @ 11:05pmstory.lead_photo.captionPamela Barriere, at right, leads students in a bow upon concluding two songs at Little Explorers Discovery Center Tuesday, June 29, 2021. LEDC hosted a press conference in which grants were distributed by United Way of Central Missouri. Barriere is a teacher at LEDC and worked with the children to provide an opening song for the event. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

A Jefferson City children’s home will have more privacy.

A Linn playground will include a “roller slide,” reducing static electricity, which could wreak havoc on certain medical electronics.

Members of Hispanic communities will receive dental and medical care.

United Way grants announced Tuesday will provide these benefits and many more.

The United Way of Central Missouri distributed $268,656 to nonprofits dedicated to improving social services.

After announcing in February the community service grants would be available, the organization received 48 requests totaling about $822,000. The grants are intended to help agencies start programs, enhance areas of service or purchase needed equipment.

The United Way raises funds for 28 partner agencies, but opened the applications to any human service agency in its nine-county region — Cole, Camden, Maries, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, Phelps and southern Callaway counties.

The grants ensure health and human services agencies have the resources to continue operating at their highest capacities, United Way Board Chairman Matt Tollerton said.

“These grants allow United Way to connect with community partners and strengthen efforts to fight for the health, education, financial stability and basic needs of every person in our community,” Tollerton said.

The agencies they support form a crucial safety net for the community during recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, he continued.

The work El Puente Hispanic Ministry is doing within communities in Cole and Moniteau counties is “pretty cool,” United Way President Ann Bax said.

El Puente is a Catholic agency that focuses on helping people experience the healing love of Jesus and promotes human dignity through ministry in the Hispanic community.

It received $15,000 to help clients with dental and medical costs. El Puente received a similar community support grant in 2020 for $5,000.

The Hispanic community doesn’t commonly have access to medical or dental insurance, El Puente Executive Director Christhia Castro said. And, if members do have insurance, they oftentimes can’t afford fees, deductibles or out-of-pocket costs.

One client needed surgery this week but couldn’t afford to pay for it, so she’ll continue to do without until she can come up with the money, Castro said.

“She had to cancel surgery. She’s still sick and not feeling well,” Castro said. “And she still has to go to work to support her family.”

Even when people have insurance, medical and dental services may be expensive.

El Puente qualifies its clients for the grants according to their needs, she said. Last year, it generally shared about $500 per client or $1,000 per family. It looks at specific circumstances for each family and recognizes some families need more help than others.

“We can help very few,” Castro said. “But anything helps.”

Additionally, Bax said, the United Way has connected El Puente with the Community Health Center for Central Missouri. The Hispanic community has been slow to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, she said. Whether that’s because it isn’t finding access or distrusts the distributors, it must be overcome. So the health center has been connecting with churches to offer vaccinations at those sites in its mobile examination room.

It was a great success, Castro said.

On Tuesday, $20,000 went toward an all-inclusive playground planned for Linn, organized by Osage County Special Services. Construction on the playground is likely to begin sometime in 2022.

The grant is to be used for a “roller slide.” The slide uses little tubes — much like rolling pins — instead of a large flat surface. Unlike sliding across a smooth surface, people who go down the rollers don’t create friction and static electricity.

This is beneficial for some hearing-impaired patients who use cochlear implants. Static electricity can destroy the electronics.

The roller slide also provides different stimulation, a benefit for people with autism, OCSS Executive Director Megan Reichart said.

OCSS’s goal with the playground is to help children with disabilities and those without to have the chance to interact and play side by side. The project is in partnership with Unlimited Play in St. Peters, — a nonprofit organization that has built other inclusive playgrounds in Missouri — and the city of Linn. The location is set for 1207 E. Lee St.

With the United Way grant and a recent fundraiser, the playground project has reached more than $205,000 in funds raised. Reichart said OCSS wants to make the construction of the playground a “community build” in which the community can come together to help with the building process.

More agencies are connecting with the United Way. About two years ago, the United Way of Central Missouri agreed to take Maries and Phelps counties under its wing. Agencies within those counties received a number of grants Tuesday.

The agencies, Bax said, are touching on pillars United Way supports — health, education, financial stability, transportation, food and shelter.

“Every aspect of social service, we are able to touch through this grant process today,” she said. “We are very blessed in Central Missouri to have some very strong health and human service agencies. We partner with 28 of them day in and day out. This is a chance for us to meet with some of those other agencies, play a role in their good work and just strengthen our community even more.”

Six United Way partner agencies were among community service grant recipients Tuesday:

Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City received $18,984 to provide a group of targeted pilot programs to teach children how to deal with their feelings and emotions, build character, work peacefully to solve problems, build strong and healthy relationships, and maintain their physical and mental health.

Council for Drug Free Youth received $16,000 to assist the nonprofit in absorbing the work of the Anne Marie Project. The funding will ensure Signs of Suicide training will continue to be offered to teachers, parents and students in eight school districts over the next school year.

Jefferson City YMCA Child Development Center received $6,029 to provide Conscious Discipline staff training and family education classes.

Little Explorers Discovery Center received $4,745 to support Conscious Discipline programming for staff and parents, and for classroom materials.

Senior Nutrition Council of Jefferson City and Cole County received $3,834 to buy eight 72-inch lifetime tables and 48 matching chairs to be used in the Clarke Senior Center.

The Salvation Army of Jefferson City received $3,711 to replace all clothes washers and dryers at the Center of Hope Emergency Shelter.

The United Way of Central Missouri also provided grants to these 22 agencies:

Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Missouri Chapter received $3,000 to help expand the Jefferson City Alzheimer’s Awareness Day by purchasing materials needed to engage businesses in awareness activities, expand on pop-up Promise Gardens and incorporate a large community education event.

Capital City Diaper Bank received $6,000 to buy 30,000 diapers, which will help support clients and other agencies that serve low-income families.

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri received $995 to implement online client ordering at the food pantry in the agency’s new office, which will likely open in August. Funding pays for one month of licensing fees for software.

Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition received $7,600 to help pay for case management software and licensing fees.

Children’s Learning Center of Camden County received $8,126 to pay for commercial rubber flooring for a sensory room to help children with special needs control their environment. The room improves concentration, focus and expression, and lowers aggressive behaviors.

Citizens Against Domestic Violence received $10,000 to help pay for medicine, insurance, food, moving fees, hygiene products, clothing, rental deposits and up to six months of rent payments for domestic violence victims and their children.

Common Ground Community Building received $10,000, which will be used to help clients pay old utility bills or to help them with deposits for housing.

Coyote Hill received $10,364 to build a privacy fence at a new facility in Jefferson City.

Day Solutions Foundation received $10,000 to expand its community integration program to include support providers during evenings and weekends, allowing clients with developmental disabilities and behavioral health disorders to participate in community events.

El Puente Hispanic Ministry received $15,000 to help with clients’ medical and dental bills.

First Chance for Children received $8,000 to provide safe cribs and other basic necessities for at-risk families who lack basic necessities for their children’s well-being.

Gateway Industries of Eldon received $9,700 to allow an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant concrete sidewalk to be installed to provide access into the sheltered workshop facility.

Healing Horses Therapeutic Riding Program received $5,400 to provide children in foster care opportunities to participate in therapeutic horsemanship.

Hyder Apartments received $23,000 to be used as a match on the purchase of a vehicle intended to transport elderly residents to the grocery store and other shops and on field trips.

Moniteau Christian Ministries Center Inc. received $6,900 for matching funds for a stand-up forklift.

Jefferson City Public Schools Foundation received $8,173 to buy a pediatric vision screener for the Parents as Teachers program. The handheld, wireless device photographs a patient’s eyes. The results may be used to encourage parents to take their children to a doctor if professional examination or treatment is needed.

River City Habitat for Humanity received $25,000 to be used as matching funds for the purchase of a half-ton pickup that will have towing capabilities to move tool and siding trailers.

Russell House received $10,422 for equipment and services to increase the safety and health of staff and residents working and living in the shelter.

The Healing House and New Beginnings Inc. received $8,500 for a security fence, 10 mattresses, a swing/play set, a living room set, and a washer and dryer.

The Rolla Mission received $5,000 to assist clients in case management — who do not have their birth certificates or identification — to obtain them.

UCP Heartland received $2,680 to purchase adaptive equipment and supplies.

Unlimited Play, of St. Peters, (for Osage County Special Services) received $20,000 for a roller slide that will be installed in the Osage County Inclusive Playground.

United Way of Central Missouri Early Childhood Initiative received $1,493 to replace a Born Learning Trail kit. United Way bought and installed a kit for Memorial Park about 10 years ago. However, the signage and materials have become unreadable over time. The Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department will install the new trail products.

News Tribune reporter India Garrish contributed to this article.

The location of the planned playground at Linn was initially incorrect, and was removed at 8:34 a.m.; then the correct location was added at 10:09 a.m. on June 30, 2021.