Blog Home > Archive (February, 2018)

On Wednesday the community of Perryville will mark the one-year anniversary of a tornado that destroyed 42 homes, impacted 105 families and, more importantly, took one life. As a member of the Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC), I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about Perryville in the last year, mostly confirming what I’d already heard. Unarguably, this is a proud, tight-knit community of caring people.

Following immediate help from hundreds of citizens, volunteers and agencies, one of the first actions taken by a funding organization was from the Perry County Community Foundation, which chose to provide $1,000 gift cards to every family to help with immediate needs. Several families refused theirs, offering their share to others who might need it more. Many families, even after learning they were under-insured, refused to seek help from Jennifer Streiler, the professional case manager who has performed with a praiseworthy blend of compassion and equity.

Others have sought help with a wide variety of needs as they go about rebuilding their homes and their lives. Based on the recommendation of the LTRC, funds from United Way donors have contributed to back-to-school clothing and supplies, land surveys, siding, appliances, furniture, ground fill, and workshops to aid in emotional and financial recovery.

Exactly one year to the day, we will co-host with Catholic Charities and The Salvation Army an anniversary dinner for the families. Quite likely, this will be the last time these people come together specifically because of this disastrous event that provided so many lessons. Hopefully, a long-lasting one for these families will be that they are not in this alone. There are many people who care about them, including strangers near and far who physically came to help, and donors to our phone-a-thon the week following the tornado who called from as far away as Texas, Colorado and New York.

Advice our ‘tornado families’ want to share with others includes:

  • Take photos of everything in your home and store them somewhere safe and/or in the cloud.
  • Back up everything!
  • Visit with your insurers regularly to confirm and understand your coverage—be sure it covers the purchase of new items, not just the reimbursement for the item’s current value.
  • Prepare and update an emergency kit with a record of prescriptions and credit cards, first aid supplies, cash, water and food, glasses and/or contact lens supplies, a phone charger, and anything else you can’t do without for a few days.
  • And, perhaps more meaningful than anything, “Tell those you love how important they are to you every day, because you may not get another chance.”
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Change is certainly a word that this current United Way team is familiar with! Personally, I view change as a good thing. It’s an opportunity to welcome fresh ideas and to promote growth both within and outside of our organization.

No worries! Team United is still banded together and now has a collective 5 years’ experience under our belts. However, in case you missed it, we’ve had the opportunity to add a part-time administrator to our team and she’s been great. Cyndy has been instrumental in helping maintain our campaign data over the last few months. She also helps us with general bookkeeping, ensuring the office is organized and stocked, and so much more.

In Elizabeth’s article you can read more about the change happening around the Perryville storm last year. The Long-Term Recovery Committee has invested over $210,000 so far to help families with rebuilding costs, general basic needs, and even back-to-school expenses. YOUR continued investment in our organization is always making a difference and changing lives throughout Southeast Missouri.

Our partner agencies have seen some internal changes as well, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share the good news! By now, many know that former United Way employee, Melissa Stickel, has taken over as the Executive Director of the Community Caring Council. She is doing an incredible job of promoting collaboration and educating our community about the great work happening over in their office.

The American Red Cross – Cape Girardeau also welcomed a new director just before the holidays. Julian Watkins comes from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale where he worked as a staff attorney and was responsible for providing legal representation for students. Prior to SIUC, Julian served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Pulaski County, owned his own law practice, and was founder to BuzzFetch Marketing, LLC. Julian comes to the Red Cross with excitement and energy and looks forward to growing this organization in our community. 

Another new face joining the United Way family is Allen Treece. Allen just recently started his role as the new Executive Director at Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club of Paducah where he helped create tremendous growth. Allen has a passion for serving youth and helping kids fulfill their true potential, and looks forward to spearheading the continued growth of our local clubs.

On the other hand, we’re also seeing two executive directors pass on their roles as they enter retirement. Al Stoverink with Habitat for Humanity retired from the organization back in December. Al did an incredible job aiding families as they worked to get into their forever homes. Linda Nash has also announced her retirement from Voices for Children (CASA). Linda leaves the organization after being instrumental in its growth and continued success.

We want to congratulate Al and Linda on their retirement and thank them for their dedication! They’ve both truly left a mark and taught us all so much about not only their respective organizations, but also about what it means to be a team player and make a difference in our community.

If you see any of our new faces out and about, please be sure to welcome them to the community! We’re excited to see what our new faces bring to Southeast Missouri and to work with them in the coming years.
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The United Way 365 Small Business Giving Program is designed for smaller organizations that want to be a part of the United Way network, but may not have the resources to run a full-blown workplace campaign. For as little as a dollar a day, small business owners join a circle of individuals working every day to strengthen our community. 

How long has your business been in operation?

Our business has been in operation for over 38 years.

What services does your business provide?

We provide several avenues of insurance and financial planning options.

What do you enjoy most about working for a small business?

It is a business with a family atmosphere. Everyone that works here truly cares about one another and our clients. It's nice to work for a business where everyone enjoys coming to work each day.

What do you love most about this community?

What I enjoy most about this community is the optimism and support it has for small businesses and organizations.

Why do you choose to support your community through United Way?

I choose to support the community through United Way because the 365 campaign allows me to give directly to our community.

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