Donating my time to organizations was a huge part of my time at Southeast Missouri State. In fact, over the course of four years I probably volunteered at more than half of United Way’s partner agencies! There’s always something going on with our funded partners, and we do our best to update you all with their volunteer opportunities every month in our newsletter.

While I love promoting our partner programs and the incredible work they do, I’ve recently realized we’ve been neglecting our own volunteer opportunities. Did you know United Way of Southeast Missouri has 4 different committees you can serve on? That’s right, 4 unique and hands-on opportunities for you to get involved.

The best part? We’re seeking new volunteers for these committees right now!

Do you have an eye for videography? Or perhaps you know the best way to get your ad to stand out in the paper? Well, our Marketing Committee is the place for you to be!  This group meets once a month to strategize and execute the campaign advertisement plans for the year. In addition to the big drive, the group focuses on our Giving Tuesday and Give from the Heart plans alongside the resource development committee.

If you aren’t tapped into your creative side and prefer to crunch numbers, then you may be interested in joining our Finance Committee. This crew typically meets once every quarter, with the occasional extra meeting or two during budget season. They’re responsible for mapping out our expenses for the year and ensuring we stay within, or even under, our budget.

Our Community Investment Committee is a huge part of our United Way family. This is the group responsible for keeping track of where our allocable dollars are going and that our funded partners are utilizing their investments in the way they were promised. Every three years this group puts in the extra work to vet agencies applying for United Way funding. If you’re passionate about the impact United Way is making in the community, this is the committee for you!

Of course, we couldn’t make the difference we do without our network of businesses and investors who fund our organization. The Resource Development Committee meets monthly to identify and pursue new accounts and stakeholders for the annual campaign. This group hits the ground running and is instrumental in helping the United Way staff meet our financial goals for the year.

As our fiscal year winds down and we begin to gear up for the next campaign, it’s the perfect time for you to get involved! If one of the opportunities above sounds like something you want to be a part of, contact Kristin in our office to learn more information and sign up! 

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So far, United Way of Southeast Missouri has collected $76,000 for the people in Perryville impacted by the February tornado. Many people have asked how the funds are being distributed, and we are eager for our donors to know exactly how their dollars are being managed.

UWSEMO is one of many organizations represented on a Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC). Other members include The Salvation Army, The American Red Cross, First Call for Help, 211, the Perryville Community Foundation, Catholic Charities, and more.

A social worker from the Perryville community is meeting with each of the 58 families impacted to identify their needs and ability to meet them. Many families were well insured and, once their immediate needs were met, they are able to rebuild without needing much in the way of financial assistance. For those families and individuals who need additional help, the case manager brings the unmet needs to the LTRC, where we discuss which organization can help with each unmet need. Some are able to provide donated items, such as clothing, housewares and furniture; others, like UWSEMO, are able to provide funds.

Being involved in this committee is eye opening. There are so many details that must be managed, including responsible management of donations over a long period of time. With only 58 families registering with the case worker, the LTRC must be especially diligent in ensuring we are meeting needs and not carelessly dispensing funds.  I was surprised to learn funds from the Joplin LTRC still are being distributed five years after that community was devastated. Rebuilding takes time, and it does not apply only to physical needs. Children are especially traumatized following an event of this proportion, and we may identify emotional help that should be provided now and into the future.

Helping Perryville rebuild physically and emotionally will be a long process. Fortunately, United Way is a long-standing organization familiar with the patience and diligence needed to help families and individuals rebuild. Creating lasting change is what we do, even when the change is unplanned and unexpected. We and the people of Perryville remain incredibly grateful to our generous donors and volunteers. Thank you.

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If you missed our Community Celebration held April 13th, you missed the ceremonial closing of our 2016 community drive, which officially ends with our fiscal year, June 30. More importantly, we didn’t get to thank you along with many of our treasured volunteers, corporate investors, and area businesses that played a big role in helping us make a difference in the four counties we serve.

In years past United Way of Southeast Missouri (UWSEMO) and others in our network have focused on the amount of funds collected. While this is imperative to the work we do, we and many other nonprofits are choosing to communicate more about the impact we are able to make with those funds. Naturally, donors want to know just how their donations are helping, and we are excited to share the news!

Organizational goals for fiscal year 2016-17 included expanding our impact in other areas outside of our Cape Girardeau headquarters. Our Community Investment Committee chose several ways to support this goal:

  • Increase funding to the Boys and Girls Club to launch an after-school program in Scott City, which opened in January
  • Invest in a new 4-H leadership program in Scott County that provides career prep to junior and senior high school students
  • Support a food pantry in Bollinger County that helps an average of 40 families a month.

We also created awareness of need and the organizations that help meet community need through United Days of Caring. This event (UDOC) kicked off our community drive with a weekend of projects in every county we serve. They included building Habitat homes, helping women’s shelters, constructing Little Free Libraries, and collecting various supplies for families and students.

Team United Goals included an internal focus on strengthening relationships in Cape and beyond. We welcomed two new Jackson businesses to our list of workplace campaigns, Pepsi Mid-America and Liberty Utilities. We became regular members at meetings of ABCToday, a program of Big Brothers, Big Sisters implemented in all Cape Girardeau Public Schools. The first in the country to be district-wide, the program tracks the progress of every child in Attendance, Behavior and Coursework (ABC) and gives extra help to those not meeting the goal.

We also became members of the Perryville Chamber. At the time we had no idea how important this would become when the February tornado rocked this community. Because we already had established connections through our student fund in the schools and our Chamber membership, we were able to quickly establish an emergency fund that has netted over $67,000 with every dollar being returned to the recovering Perryville families. (For more about how these investments are determined, please see this month’s blog.)

These are just a few of the accomplishments we are proud to report, especially when 2/3 of our team members haven’t even been here a year! We couldn’t do it without the help and support of so many volunteers and donors. Thank you for helping us to strengthen our community!

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Helping the Heartland

Less than a month ago, a small, proud community just 30 miles from our office was visited by a tornado. Other writers use terms like “devastated,” “ripped apart,” and “shattered” to describe the impact left by a tornado. But that is not all that happened in Perryville, Missouri.

Yes, homes were ripped apart, belongings were shattered, and tragically, loved ones were devastated upon hearing of the one death and the loss of a son, brother, cousin, nephew. While this sadness is deep and life-changing, this community is just as complete and whole as it was a month ago, which is why I find myself using the term “visited” by a tornado.

People unknowingly traveling along Interstate 55 were unprepared for the cars from a nearby salvage yard that hurtled at them like missiles. Some families had warning and were able to dash into a cellar or cower in a bathtub. Even those with time to grab money, medications and, most importantly, family, had no way of preparing for what was coming.

Yet, somehow, they instantly knew how to recover and rebuild. Immediately, as we humans tend to do, people were digging, removing, lifting, helping, and providing any and all assistance they could deliver. As did United Way of Southeast Missouri.

We also quickly sprang into action, establishing an emergency fund and promising our donors that every penny donated would go right back into the community of Perryville. Thus far we have collected more than $60,000! While our hearts ache for the people in Perryville, they also swell with pride at the depth of care demonstrated by the giving people of this region.

Our partner agencies that excel during emergencies--First Call for Help, American Red Cross, and The Salvation Army—were there to meet the immediate needs. They provided hygiene items, clothing, food, water, information, and did their best to find housing in a place where temporary options are minimal. The funds donated to UWSEMO support these agencies and also will go toward long-range help through our investment in Perry County Schools.

We are one of many agencies that comprise a Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) devoted to helping Perryville rebuild. Each family in need works with a case manager. These needs are brought before the LTRC to identify and deliver the required resources.

United Way also began collecting funds to help repair about a dozen homes in South Cape that were hit by high winds within a week of the Perryville tornado. Again, we are part of a LTRC working together to help our neighbors.

We know rebuilding will be a slow and painful process, especially for the people of Perryville. But we have no doubt this community has the courage, graciousness, and love for their city and neighbor to come through it even stronger than the winds that will never tear it down.

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Give From the Heart!

If we had a dollar for every time we or our funded partners say, “The need in this community is much greater than most people realize,” we might put ourselves out of work! Until that happens, thanks to generous donors and outstanding collaboration with funded partners, we make progress every day to make life better for everyone in Southeast Missouri.

Did you know that Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Missouri has officially opened their new facility in Scott City? They’re already serving 23 students that attend Scott City R-I Elementary, and they’ve only been in operation less than a month. We’re ecstatic to provide more educational mentoring in the Scott City area and can’t wait to see the impact this program has on these students and this community.

One of our new partners, Little Whitewater Baptist Church Food Pantry, is located near Patton and serves around 40 families in Bollinger County every month. In the last six months, they have obtained ownership of a former volunteer firehouse and are installing shelving units, air conditioning and refrigerators. Their hope is to provide cold/chilled items to the families they support.

Like the two above, all of our partners depend on United Way dollars to strengthen our community. Without the support of our donors and volunteers, their work would not be possible.

The good news is, we aren’t the only ones expanding our reach. Every year there are more people and agencies trying to help others. The bad news is it means more of us are sharing donor dollars. Now more than ever we need our loyal donors to give more, advocate louder, and encourage others to volunteer.

To help generate more funds and awareness, we are asking our community to Give from the Heart through the month of February. This ‘mini campaign’ allows smaller businesses that don’t run a workplace drive to participate, while enabling our regular partners to raise more funds through events and fundraisers. We also hope seeing red paper hearts around town will help raise awareness for both the need and the collaborative work we and our partners do.

Throughout the month of February, a variety of area businesses and organizations, including Alliance Bank, Cup n’ Cork, Kuts Plus and Broadway Prescription Shop, will sell hearts to customers for a minimum donation of $1. The Bank of Missouri will sell hearts and also host a trivia night on February 24th at the Jackson Civic Center. Area restaurants that have committed to sharing a percentage of profits include Buffalo Wild Wings in Cape, Wings, Etc. in Cape and Jackson, Beef O’ Brady’s in Cape and Perryville, Bella Italia and Katy O’Ferrell’s Publick House in downtown Cape. Additional share nights and fundraisers are still being planned.

Please think about how you or your organization can get involved. Even if you do not own a business, how about asking your stylist or mechanic to sell hearts and encourage customers to “Give from the Heart?” We have many creative ways organizations of all sizes can get involved. Please contact me either via email or by calling our office at 573-334-9634 and Give from the Heart!

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Last week when the temperature was in the 20s, I gave a ride to a woman with six children who were walking off the interstate, having been put out of the car by her husband. She tearfully explained they had moved here several months ago for her husband’s new job, but things weren’t going well. She was reluctant for me to call the police, because she did not have custody of all of the children and feared they would be separated in various foster homes. As she softly spoke, the children, probably aged five to fourteen, sat in complete silence, stunned by what had just occurred and by what their future held. Staring down at her crumpled tissue, she quietly voiced, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go. We have always had a home. Here it is Christmas, and I don’t even have a place for my family to live.”

I have no doubt why I was put in her path that day. Thankfully, with our network of agencies, we have help for her and her children. With our focus on collaborative impact, we help to prevent more people from finding themselves in equally terrifying situations. Rarely does someone need the help and service of just one agency or program. By investing in a network of 34 programs, United Way of Southeast Missouri supports those with immediate need, while helping to create lifelong change that reduces the need. When you invest in United Way, you create change that truly can change a person’s life.

As you count your blessings this time of year, think of those who are frightened and fearing their future. If you invest even a small percentage of what you will spend on throwaway toys and meaningless video games, you just might change a life.

Doing good also benefits the giver in many ways—emotionally, spiritually, some studies even show improved heart health. Here are some financial reasons that may be especially timely for those in need of year-end tax benefits:

  • A charitable gift can help you move to or remain in a lower tax bracket.
  • A donation of stock will help you avoid taxes on capital gains, and you can receive a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the stock at the time of your gift.
  • Most importantly, you will help others (and probably yourself) during a season that is all about giving.

We thank you for your support of our organization and our community. We hope as you make your resolutions for the new year, you will remember your gifts of time and talent are equally valuable and appreciated. Click here for details on specific opportunities to Give, Advocate, Volunteer.

We wish you and yours the blessings too many families do not have:  a warm home, a steady income, good health, and above all, hope for a brighter new year.

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It has been shown that, on average, charities receive about 40% of their total yearly donations in the last three months of the year. Some organizations report receiving almost a third of their yearly gifts in December alone!

At the United Way of Southeast Missouri we know that the winter season can be rough on the individuals and families that we serve every day. Our funded partners go the extra mile to ensure the homeless are warm while they sleep, the at-risk students are fed during the holiday breaks and that seniors are well cared for during the cold months.

We also know that while you love giving back, there’s only so much you can do – so let us help you figure out the best route for your year-end donation! Check out our 5 tips for giving back this holiday season:

  1. Shop online to earn donations! Did you know that The United Way of Southeast Missouri is partnered with AmazonSmile year round? On average, 25% of holiday shoppers will spend between $500 and $1,000 on gifts each season and 75% will shop online. AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support the United Way of Southeast Missouri every time you shop at absolutely no extra cost. You find the exact same low prices; the exact same selection of items and the exact same ease of shopping with the added bonus of having a portion of what you spend go directly to United Way. It’s easy – visit smile.amazon.com and start shopping!

     

  2. Do you know someone who is consistently hard to shop for? Give the gift of humanitarian aid! Instead of spending hours trying to find the right gift, donate to a cause they care about in their name. With 24 funded partners and over 30 partner agencies, we’re sure you’ll be able to give the perfect gift this year. Plus, we will even send a special card to your recipient letting them know just how meaningful their gift is to the people who benefit from your donation.

     

  3. Use your voice to spread holiday cheer! One of the best things you can do for your favorite charity is to speak up and educate your neighbors on the great things they do year round. Challenge your family to a little United Way trivia – see if they know $.99 of every dollar gets invested back into the counties we serve, or see who can name the most programs in 30 seconds. Whether you include a note in your holiday cards or use our social media and online tools to share our promotions, every little bit you share helps!

     

  4. Donate before December 31st to receive tax benefits on your next return. While donors always give from the heart, it doesn’t mean that there can’t be some added return on that worthwhile investment! To qualify for a deduction on your 2017 return, make sure your donation is processed by December 31, 2016. Send checks to The United Way of Southeast Missouri in early December, or grab your phone right now and call (573) 334-9634 or text GiveWhatMatters to 41444. Don’t forget, unrestricted monetary donations are the best way to ensure the causes you care about are able to plan for the year ahead!

     

  5. Volunteer! Whether  you’re looking to spend a few hours ringing bells for the Salvation Army or want to dive in and host a winter clothing drive at your workplace – there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference right here in Southeast Missouri. Your time is just as valuable as your treasure and we can’t wait to see you #StrengtheningOurCommunity!

How can you help the causes you care about this holiday season?

Share your ideas in the comments below!

 

Want to give a holiday gift to The United Way of Southeast Missouri now? Donate here.

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This Friday United Way of Southeast Missouri will kick off our annual community drive with United Days of Caring, a weekend of giving back to the community. Normally, United Way works behind the scenes, investing in organizations and programs that deliver help to families and create lasting change for generations. This year we want people to see United Way strengthening the communities we serve: Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Scott City, Perryville and Bollinger County.

Friday at 8:30 a.m., volunteers will meet at the new Capaha Park pavilion for a quick breakfast before heading out to a wide variety of projects in each community. On Friday and Saturday volunteers will build homes, strip floors, paint a sanctuary or senior nutrition center, stock a food pantry or clean up trash. Others will learn how to become a Read to Succeed volunteer and spend an hour a week in Cape's elementary schools encouraging a new reader. Students in many area schools will write letters to first responders and senior citizens and practice random acts of kindness. Many area businesses are collecting food, hygiene products and socks, which can also be donated at kickoff and project sites. There is still plenty of time for an organization to register a project and for volunteers to register to participate via a link on our website: www.unitedwayofsemo.org/daysofcaring.

To celebrate our weekend of giving, United Way will host a 9/11 ceremony at 2:00 at the Common Please Park and Gazebo on September 9th. All singers are invited to arrive at 1:00 to practice patriotic songs and a piece written just for United Days of Caring. After the brief ceremony, we hope families will stay for a Community Celebration with bounce houses, lawn games, a DJ and dancing.

This weekend and through the year when United Way comes to your workplace or a letter arrives in your mailbox, please remember the thousands of Southeast Missouri families we strengthen and accept our invitation to Give, Advocate, Volunteer. By partnering with organizations that support our fight for the health, education and financial stability of everyone, we look forward to United Days of Caring and a weekend of all neighbors coming together to Live Untied.

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Budgets, Reports & RFP's

You may notice a theme as you read the newest blogs for the United Way of Southeast Missouri.  We are all new to our roles and sharing new experiences.  My start with United Way began in May as the Operations Manager.

Although we are a nonprofit, we operate like any other business with monthly receivables, payables and, above all, fiscal responsibility. Our fiscal year ended June 30, which meant spending time with our budgeting process and executing the responsibilities needed to meet the annual requirements of a United Way regional office. 

As a newbie, I can say crafting a budget has been a learning experience, requiring the advice of many volunteers and professional to help guide us, and we’ve made good strides.  Our team is committed to operating as efficiently and responsibly as possible, and we will continue to make adjustments.  It made for an exciting start with the organization and gave me a fast introduction to United Way budgeting practices. 

Part of the fiscal year-end responsibilities also meant a quick introduction to the detailed reports each United Way is required to complete as one of 1800 worldwide chapters. These reports track annual progress and provide global demographics about the contributions the organization receives.  It was a definite challenge! We relied on past reports and a donation tracking tool to help complete the information, and United Way of Southeast Missouri (UWSEMO) is proud to say we completed our United Way Worldwide Membership Requirements on time.  We like to share the big “thumbs up” from United Way Worldwide that’s posted on our website. 

Perhaps one of the most critical challenges I met in my first three months is a process that occurs only once every three years for our organization. We call it our RFP Process when any organization or program that supports our commitment to Education, Income and Health is invited to request funding. With the help of many community volunteers we identify the agencies and programs in which we will invest the donations given by caring individuals and businesses in our community. The process is complicated and difficult, as many outstanding groups apply for assistance. 

I scheduled and participated in several meetings of volunteers who comprise our Board, Community Impact Committee and Proposal Review Panel who, with United Way staff, reviewed 34 applications and made 26 site visits. We are extremely thankful for those who submitted and reviewed applications, made recommendations, visited agencies, and reviewed and ranked results. These volunteers often contribute time outside of normal work schedules and show great dedication to help strengthen the community we all share.

There are many extraordinary people we meet and work with every day.  Thank you to everyone for being so supportive in these first months.

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Welcome Home

I’m not really sure which “fact of life” is crazier right now – that it’s been a month since I’ve graduated from Southeast or the fact that it’s been a month since I began working at United Way! Either way, crazy is good for me so I guess I’ll take it.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Kristin Funderburk and I’m the new Community Relations Manager here at United Way of Southeast Missouri. I just graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in May with my Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication, Public Relations. Hopefully you’ve seen me out and about, but if not I’m sure you will soon! I’ll be spearheading the upcoming campaign season, as well as working on some Community Impact events and Marketing pieces.

First and foremost, thank you. Every single person that I’ve met over the course of the last month has welcomed me and been so supportive and understanding as I make this transition and try my hardest to answer all the questions that I can. (When exactly does the “I’m new here” excuse wear off, anyhow?) Honestly, I knew I was becoming a part of a humble and caring community, but this last month has been incredible.

So what have we done over these last 30 days? The real question is what haven’t we done?! I’m so proud to say that our 29th Annual Golf Tournament that took place on June 3rd was one of our most successful tournaments to date. I’d like to give a huge thank-you to Nicholle Hinkle for making everything happen, and the wonderful ladies on the committee for ensuring I made it through the morning in one piece. Also, everyone at Kimbeland went above and beyond to help us execute the “little things,” and we couldn’t be more thankful for their help. Elizabeth and I have already started brainstorming ideas for next year – our 30th year – so be sure your calendars are marked for June 2nd, 2017!

Another piece of the puzzle that I’ve been able to work with is our upcoming United Days of Caring weekend taking place September 9th – 11th. This is your chance to grab your friends, family and/or co-workers and spend a part of your weekend helping out the community. We have so many incredible projects and organizations in need of your help that weekend, and I’m beyond excited to see the impact our communities can make in just three short days. We’re in the final stages of planning this “mini-campaign,” so be on the lookout for more information coming soon!

I’m also privileged to work on a couple of Community Impact events this summer. The 2016 Back to School Kickoff will be taking place on July 26th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Central Middle School, and is sure to be a day full of opportunity and fun for all the families involved. Additionally, the 3rd Annual Stuff the Bus event will take place August 6th at various Walmarts across the region. Both of these events have been a great opportunity for me to work with area businesses and schools to ensure that everyone heading back to school this fall is prepared in every way possible.

Finally – marketing. I’ve spent a decent chunk of time learning how to operate Easy Post and update our website. I’ve added details on all of our events; soon you’ll be able to find updated campaign materials and news pieces on everything we’ve accomplished here at United Way.

Not to mention – I’ve worked alongside Procter & Gamble for their “Who Do You Run For?” 5K, developed a social media strategy that will go live on July 1st and worked with Elizabeth to get the upcoming campaign season planned. I’ve clearly been a busy bee, but I can’t say that I’d have it any other way!

Once again, thank you all so much for your support during this transition. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m  exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I look forward to meeting more of our wonderful supporters and can’t wait to continue working with each and every one of you!

 

Kristin Funderburk
Community Relations Manager

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