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story.lead_photo.caption United Way of Central Missouri

Due to much of their efforts and resources going toward disaster relief, the United Way of Central Missouri's Board of Directors has decided to postpone selecting a new partner agency.

Executive Director Ann Bax said they had scheduled interviews for a week after the May 22 tornado hit Cole and Miller counties.

"As you can imagine, our staff hasn't had the time to commit to this process," Bax said. "We take bringing on a new agency very seriously. We have a lot of expectations of our agencies and very quickly we found we didn't have the capacity to continue with this effort at this time."

In March, due to the success of the 2018 campaign and to be responsive to the growing needs in Mid-Missouri, the United Way board announced they planned to add a partner agency to the local network.

"So many of the agencies applying were also working on disaster relief," Bax said. "We talked with those agencies that had applied after our board made this decision, and they understood. They felt this was the right thing to do."

United Way of Central Missouri currently partners with 28 area agencies and programs. These groups must be a health and human service 501(c)(3) that furthers the mission of the United Way in the areas of health, education, financial stability or basic needs. This chapter was started in 1925 and now provides services in seven counties in Central Missouri, including Cole, Camden, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage and southern Callaway. Nearly 87,000 people benefit from the services provided.

"The last time we went through the agency addition process was in 2014," Bax said. "We had three agencies apply, and in 2015, we added two of them — Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Agency and Court Appointed Special Advocates. At that time, we said we could not consider adding another agency for three to five years given that when you bring on a new agency you have to raise more money in the next campaign. It puts more of a burden on making sure we are able to provide funding."

The annual United Way campaign started in July.

"All the needs of these groups have been amplified due to the natural disasters we've faced," Bax said.

The campaign will go through the end of the year, but the projected total will be announced in November. This year's goal is $2.1 million, and the United Way Pacesetters, a group of 32 local companies, have already raised more than $1 million toward the goal.

Last year's United Way campaign brought in $2.219 million; the goal was $2 million.

"We're focused on long-term recovery for right now, and hopefully, we'll have another successful campaign," Bax added. "The most important thing right now is the disaster survivors who need our help now."

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