The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 20, 2013

United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas pushes to hit goal

JOPLIN, Mo. — The hour and a half between noon and 1:30 p.m. is a designated “quiet time” for the 49 youngsters at Cerebral Palsy of Tri-County in Webb City.

But the organization likely would be even quieter without financial support from what its executive director calls one of its main sources of funding: the United Way.

“We depend on United Way,” said Executive Director Christy Graham. “Without that support, we’d have to severely limit our service to the Joplin metro area.”

The United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas, which is nearing the final stages of its 2013 fundraising campaign, has so far raised $797,200 — about 61 percent of its $1.3 million goal. Campaign officials are seeking donations to help them reach their goal before the campaign closes next month.

The local campaign helps fund 58 programs and 35 partner agencies, including the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, Cerebral Palsy of Tri-County, Children’s Haven, the Joplin Community Clinic, the Joplin Association for the Blind, Lafayette House, the Salvation Army and Wesley House of Pittsburg, Kan.

“United Way’s campaign is about people helping people,” Kate Massey, vice president of community impact, said in a statement. “The more we can raise, the more we can help right here. We’re helping people with health issues, kids who need a safe place to go after school and people who need support through a difficult time in their lives.”

The United Way invests more than $1 million each year in the region, with nearly 90 cents of each locally donated dollar going to services that assist people in the community, officials said.

“When people are in need, these communities step up to help,” said Bev Crespino-Graham, executive director, in a statement. “There’s optimism and energy this year among donors who understand how United Way is helping.”

At the cerebral palsy center, United Way funding supports early developmental therapy, speech and language therapy, and occupational and physical therapy for the disabled and medically fragile children who attend preschool there, Graham said. It also supports a transportation program that helps families get to their therapy appointments elsewhere in the Joplin area, she said.

“We’re trying to get little ones caught up to where they can be,” she said. “We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the United Way and the donors.”

The United Way also is one of the largest supporters of the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, said Executive Director Rhonda Gorham. The club serves more than 600 children each year in its after-school and summer programs; about 250 children attend the after-school program on a daily basis, she said.

“With the United Way’s help, we work on education, feeding them, getting their homework done, and we can send them home, where a parent can bathe them, love on them and put them to bed,” she said.

Gorham said funds raised through the United Way are particularly important to the organization because of its clientele, more than a quarter of whom are families making less than $10,000 annually.

“We tend to serve a high-poverty percentage of the community who are already struggling with their grades and getting food and getting health care, so with their support, we’re able to take on more kids in our community and work on some of our issues that we have in Joplin,” she said.

The Family Resource Center in Pittsburg serves about 400 children through its child care services. It is able to give about 50 families discounted child care each year with its United Way funding, said Executive Director Ann Elliott.

“It’s extremely important because it makes a difference in whether a family can work full time or not because of the expense of child care,” she said. “If we did not have United Way funding, we would not be able to provide that service.”

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INFORMATION on the 2013 United Way campaign is available at

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