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Over the Edge is Back!

How much do you love your community? Are you willing to go Over the Edge for Southeast Missouri? If you missed this thrilling event in 2019, mark June 5 on your calendar! You will want to be a part of it, whether you watch from the safety of the Chartwells Chicken Coop or have the courage to rappell 147 feet down Towers South at Southeast Missouri State University.

Last year we raised $43,000 for our first OTE event. This year, as we celebrate 50 years of being a United Way, we hope to have 50 Edgers help raise $50,000. Will you Give or will you Go? Get all of your questions answered here

Over the Edge

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We're Halfway There!

I’m continuously amazed by this community.

At last year’s kickoff event three partner agencies were chosen by volunteers to pitch mini-grant ideas to a room full of United Way donors. The introduction to this concept was a huge success, with 150 individuals contributing $2500 during lunch; so we decided to try it again in 2018.

The guidelines for the process are pretty simple: the maximum amount rewarded per project is $1,000 with the understanding the project would be an extension of or complement to the initiative United Way already funds. Additionally, last year’s recipients couldn’t apply for the same project.

Safe House for Women was this year’s first presenting partner. With their $1,000 grant, they’re hoping to provide “safe phones” to their shelter clients. The program is currently funded through Verizon, but is scheduled to end in December.

The Safe House clients utilize these phones to contact social service agencies, employers, and additional resources to help them through the process of transitioning out of the shelter.

Boy Scouts of America continues to collaborate with other organizations in Southeast Missouri. Their previous mini-grant launched a troop at Jefferson Elementary School. Now they’re hoping to collaborate with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri to bring Scouting to their after-school and summer programs.

In addition to providing students with outdoors and service experiences, Scouts proudly incorporates various STEM activities into their curriculum. These skills and experiences are ones that many at-risk youth in our community are not otherwise provided.

Finally, First Call for Help and the Community Caring Council sought funding to aid families in our community who are going through difficult times.

The Family Transition Team consists of caseworkers from our partner organizations and others who come together when all other resource options have been explored. The group ensures that clients who may need a hand up, like steel-toed work boots to begin a new job or eyeglasses to complete an application, are able to resolve their issues without further stress.

Over the last year, United Way of Southeast Missouri has been able to touch the lives of nearly 33,000 individuals, children, and senior citizens in our community. But the need doesn’t end there. The mini-grant program is our way of helping partners get a jump start on new initiatives that can further their reach and go beyond the goals of their original programming guidelines.

At Thursday’s kickoff luncheon, we were able to raise half of the $3,000 needed to fund all three initiatives mentioned above. Will you join our fight by donating just $10? Click here to make your pledge now. Thank you for Living United.

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For many months we have been diligently (and somewhat desperately) exploring ways to fund Read to Excel after learning the DeltaCorps grant that launched it last year was being eliminated.

Enter the Kiwanis to the rescue!

After we shared program data and stories of the students’ success at a recent Kiwanis meeting, this kind-hearted group chose to fund Read to Excel in its entirety! We had pared it to the bare bones, cutting it from two site coordinators to one, and reducing the number of students and reading sessions. Now, with additional help from Zonta and Cape Girardeau Rotary we are able to move forward and add back more students and sessions!

Read to Succeed, which also began with a federal grant in 2012, is designed to encourage new readers as they learn this critical skill. Read to Succeed receives significant support from individual donors and the Cape Girardeau Public Schools. Read to Excel was created at the request of many teachers to target older, struggling readers. Although it is an extension of Read to Succeed, we had to create a new program with a new name to meet the grant requirements.

As we move forward, we will roll Read to Excel into Read to Succeed, sharing the name and new logo. Not only is this less confusing for our schools and volunteers, but both programs now include students in kindergarten through sixth grade who read below grade level. We also chose to update the logo to indicate the real beauty of this program: one-to-one tutoring for students from valuable volunteers.

Our donors fund many valuable programs, which we proudly share at every opportunity. We are ‘over the moon’ to welcome both financial and volunteer support from the Kiwanis. Truly, without you this program would not be possible. Schedules for 1:1 tutoring at elementary schools in Cape and Scott City still are being formed, along with the times for Tiger Book Club at Central Middle School. Interested volunteers can still register and provide their preferences for when the schools finalize the schedules. Email Robin.koetting@unitedwayofsemo.org or call United Way at 573-334-9634.

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Last year, over 150 United Way supporters came together to raise $2,500 in less than 30 minutes. The results? Three new local programs that helped nearly 200 area youth.

Boy Scouts of America presented a proposal to donors to start a pack at Jefferson Elementary, where 9 out of 10 students qualify for free or reduced lunch. This $500 grant provided the six participating scout’s registration costs for an entire year of scouting, a troop leader, and many unique experiences to help the scouts grow in the program.

In addition to fulfilling their Bobcat Badge requirements, the youth went camping for the first time this summer, something many had longed to do. Giving back is important to this young group, and they’ve spent the year completing service projects such as cleaning up Capaha Park and sending care packages overseas to our armed forces.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri and Community Caring Council partnered to bring at-risk youth a international experience this summer. The Passport to Summer program connected roughly 115 youth to various community events this summer and to CENET, Cultural Exchange Network.  Students spent several weeks learning about the cultures of different countries, culminating with a small fair to celebrate the traditions of the countries spotlighted in the program.

Voices for Children was the final mini-grant recipient selected by our community investment committee. With their additional $1,000, they were able to start a support group for foster teens about to age out of the system. Leaving high school can overwhelm many students, especially those with no family or financial support.

The group consisted of 22 high school aged youth. Together, they went through financial coaching, developed workforce skills, improved their study habits, and built confidence as they moved into this next chapter in their lives.

United Way continuously utilizes our network of partners to build lasting solutions to the toughest problems. We’re still moved by how much work could be done for area students with just $2,500.

We’re excited to showcase three new programs at our Kickoff this August! As many of you know, the need in our community never stops, but thanks to donors like you, we’re able to make a difference for our friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and peers every day.

We hope to see you at kickoff on August 23rd! Tickets are $30/person or $240/table of 8. This provides 6 seats for your group or company and 2 seats for members of our partner agencies who are excited to share more stories like these. Please RSVP to Kristin via email or by calling 573-334-9634.
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Chances are you’ve heard of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. These infamous days kickoff the holiday shopping season for so many individuals across America, but isn’t something missing? After all… we’re entering the season of giving.

United Way of Southeast Missouri has joined #GivingTuesday, a global movement that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy. This year, #GivingTuesday occurs on November 28th to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their community and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

A small yet impactful piece of the United Way puzzle here in our region is our Student Emergency Funds, established in 5 public school districts and at Southeast Missouri State University. These funds have been vital in providing assistance with basic needs to help keep students focused on learning.

The following story was provided by one of our local Children's Fund Coordinators:

“Upon returning to school on a Monday, I was made aware of a local family that suffered a house fire over the weekend. This family was a blended family with 6 children in the home and 4 of them attended school in our district. They had lost everything and had nothing but the clothes on their backs. They received funding from the Red Cross that they used to pay rent on a neighboring home until they could secure permanent housing. Our school staff was very generous in donating household items and food for this family, but there were so many things that were lost and the need was great.   

Thanks to our Children's Fund we were able to purchase clothing for all 6 of the children in the family as well as school supplies for the school-aged children.  With this funding we were able to get the children back in school so that they could start returning to a normal routine, which helped to reduce their anxiety and stress.”

In addition to household items and food, student emergency funds have provided the following across our four-county service area:

  • Shoes
  • Winter clothes and coats
  • Eyeglasses
  • Dental care
  • Utility assistance
  • Food and school supplies
  • Testing fees

This #GivingTuesday, we're asking our community to give a special gift to area children who need a small hand-up. It’s very hard for students to focus on learning when they are not dressed for cold weather, haven’t eaten all weekend or need glasses or dental care. All gifts made under this link will be designated to our Children's Funds in five public school districts. The fund is managed by a nurse or counselor at each school with input from faculty and staff. Please consider making a contribution to help our students reach their full potential. 

 

How can you get involved and help #SaveOurStudents?! 

• Donate! All donations made through this link will be designated to our student emergency funds. Home State Health has also agreed to match all donations made on #GivingTuesday to support our students even further. 

• Dine! On Tuesday's in November, you have the opportunity to donate to United Way anytime you place an order through Cargo Carryout. Be sure to use code: liveunited upon checkout. Also, on Tuesday, November 28th, IMO's in Jackson and Perryville is donating 10% of sales to our cause!

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If you were with us at the Isle, you know that we decided to switch things up a little with our campaign kickoff. We followed the trend of many other organizations and turned our fundraising kickoff into an actual fundraiser.

Knowing we were taking such a different approach from what we normally do meant we really had to come up with an out-of-the-box idea that not only excited our donors for the two-hour event, but also left them feeling excited about the upcoming United Way campaign in their workplace. We needed to capture the attention of our audience while also informing them of the need in our community.

Now, more than ever, we need to continue providing support to our students who may one day lead your workforce. We need to be there for our seniors who have been an integral force in our community and help them to continue to thrive and live independently. Our partner agencies collaborate every day to ensure seniors, children and their families are achieving their full potential. But what if we could do more?

The idea for offering our partner agencies mini-grants came from a United Way Worldwide training I had the pleasure of attending earlier this summer. The focus of the training was on fundraising, and I had the opportunity to learn from other resource development professionals working for United Way chapters across the country. Thanks to a colleague from Michigan, I learned about an event that utilized crowdfunding and the tech-popular start-up platform to help nonprofits begin new initiatives in their communities.

Why did Team United think this would be the perfect program to use for kickoff? We had a couple of reasons. First, it gave our partners an opportunity to share their ideas with our donors. We typically get about 10 minutes on average to update our donors with information during campaign season. Since we invest in over 30 partner agency programs, it’s impossible for us to share details about all of our programs in these short presentations. Sure, we highlight one every month in our newsletter and you can read more about them on our website, but donors are constantly telling us they also enjoy hearing directly from the source.

The second appeal of this new concept is it gave us a platform to demonstrate continuous need right here in Southeast Missouri. I tell people every day that I want to work myself out of a career. If there ever came a day where an organization like United Way and all of our partner agencies were no longer needed – it would be incredible. Unfortunately we aren’t quite there yet, but we’re still motivated to make this community the strongest it possibly can be. We gave three partner organizations the opportunity to share with our donors what would happen to their organization if they had just a little more funding. As it turned out, they could do some pretty incredible things.

The Boy Scouts of America utilize United Way funding to focus on giving “camperships” to students in our area who can’t afford to attend one of their summer camps. They believe in giving everyone the opportunity to have a full scouting experience, which is why they applied for a mini-grant that will pay for a troop in Jefferson Elementary School. The $500 they requested can pay for the materials and uniforms required to train 4 adults to lead 10 students on their scouting journey.

Linda Nash, Executive Director of Voices for Children/CASA, applied for a $1,000 grant to start a support group for foster students who are about to ‘age out’ of the system and graduate from high school. For any student, deciding what to do after high school can be challenging, especially in a day with so many opportunities. For the 20 or so students aging out of foster care, basic survival can be an even greater concern than attending college or trade school. The new support group will help these students become self-sufficient and productive members of the community and develop into individuals who are capable of meeting their own needs. The group will also allow them to gain the resilience and acquire the skills and education necessary to live independently.

Finally, the Community Caring Council (CCC) and Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri collaborated to create the “Passport to Summer” initiative that will take place during the Boys and Girls Clubs’ 2018 summer camp. The goal of the program is to encourage students to engage in cultural, artistic, and community-focused events, building on the Key Developmental Assets of responsibility, the arts, and community taught by the CCC. The $1,000 grant will help cover the event and transportation costs for each student participating in the program.

We are extremely grateful to our donors at kickoff who stepped up to meet the need and make it all possible!

All it took was $2,500, the perfect kick-start to our campaign. If you can give just a little, that is just as fantastic. Every dollar invested into our organization goes a long way; we make sure of it. No matter the size of your gift, YOU make a HUGE impact in the lives of our families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. If every United Way donor in our region gave just one more dollar every year, it would be more than enough to make all three of these programs a reality every year.

Over the course of the next year, be sure you’re following us on social media and receiving our monthly newsletter so you can stay up to date on these new initiatives in Southeast Missouri.

It’s not just our community. It’s YOUR community. Together, we make it stronger. #LIVEUNITED

 

If you're interested in supporting these mini-grant initiatives, please click here to submit a donation.

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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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