The United Way of Central Missouri gave more than $118,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations and other health and human service agencies on Thursday. The co-chairs for the 2014 fundraising campaign were also announced as well as the campaign goal.
"Because the campaign last year was so successful, there was extra money available," said newly appointed campaign co-chair Barb Prasad about the grants. "So when that happens instead of keeping it in the reserves, the United Way board will choose to vote to send some of that money back into the community."
Prasad is the business manager for JCMG Laser and Vein Center and an expecting grandmother. She also served as chairman of the Heart Walk for the American Heart Association for the past two years, and as a volunteer for St. Joseph Cathedral School and Parish.
"We truly appreciate the unwavering support of our community," said Andy Fechtel, fellow co-chair for the 2014 campaign. "This year, we are announcing that our 2014 campaign goal is to raise $1.75 million, which is about a $50,000 increase from the goal we set for ourselves last year and just slightly under what the community responded with for us last year."
Fechtel is a Jefferson City native and brand specialist for Fechtel Beverage. He was also last year's campaign's co-chair, a panel chair for the fund allocation process, a member of the special events committee, and a member of the governing body for the United Way.
The largest grant Thursday was given to the Salvation Army for $22,000. The army intends to use the money for updating the cafeteria, said Richard Trimmell, a major with the Salvation Army.
"This is great, we are just as pleased as we can be," Trimmell said about the grant. "I don't know where we would have come up with the money to do the upgrades that we needed to do without this. It will not fund everything we need to do in there, but boy is it really a lot of help."
The grant will be used to purchase a new commercial dishwasher, Trimmell said. Any money left over will be used to purchase other commercial kitchen gear and repair the kitchen's infrastructure so that the army can continue to provide warm meals to anyone who needs them three times a day, every day.
The second largest grant went to Homemaker Health Care and was for $20,000. The HHC is a non-profit that has served Central Missouri for 40 years, said grant recipient Jeff Buker. The organization assists elderly residents who live in their homes, rather than retirement communities.
"This is absolutely amazing," Buker said about the grant. "The individuals that are going to receive the most benefit from this grant are senior citizens that are trying to continue living independently in their own homes and the United Way makes it all possible."
The grant funds will be used to hire additional staff and purchase office space, Buker said. However, he continued, the majority of the funds will be used to help collect needed supplies such as shower chairs and bedside commodes.
The rest of the grants were awarded as follows:
• Pathways Community Health received $18,000 to start a program that provides mental health care to students at Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark Middle Schools, as well as the Simonsen Ninth Grade Center. Pathways provides mental health care services such as individual and group therapy.
• Adult Basic Literacy Education (ABLE) received a $1,596 grant to purchase iPads for their middle school volunteer tutoring program. The organization teaches adults and students how to read or improve their reading skills.
• The Boys and Girls Club received a $13,000 grant to help fund a gang-prevention program. This agency provides youths a safe environment to socialize, and programs that promote academic, social and physical development.
• The Helping Art Liberate Orphans foundation, or HALO, was awarded an $18,000 grant to purchase a 15-passenger van for transporting children to school and the HALO learning center. This agency is a safe haven for at-risk youth that encourages children to focus on their future and provides educational workshops.
• The Jefferson City Day Care Center received a grant for $5,398 that will be used for upgrading kitchen equipment. The center offers early childhood education services to children up to 8 years old for low- to middle-income families.
• The Rape and Abuse Crisis Service received a $3,280 grant for improving outdoor security cameras and lighting repairs. RACS services include shelter, counseling, advocacy, crisis intervention, future housing, hotline calls and court assistance for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
• The Special Learning Center was awarded an $8,200 grant to refurbish the center's van and repair the wheelchair lift for its bus. The center provides services to children with developmental disabilities, e.g. teaching deaf children sign language or helping children with cerebral palsy learn to walk.
• The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri received a $10,000 grant for its Buddy Pack program. This program gives students a backpack full of food for weekends and vacations. This agency provides food to area pantries, soup kitchens and schools.