By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Funding decisions are to be made next week by the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund board.
The board on Thursday heard nearly four hours of presentations by 12 organizations seeking a share of the fund for tornado recovery and emergency preparedness work.
A round of grant funding amounting to $350,000 is to be made available this round from the $800,000 fund. The fund was established for donors who wanted money to go directly to Joplin needs that other governmental agencies and organizations would not fund.
The fund’s board agreed by consensus last week to ask a dozen applicants for presentations to get further details on their needs. It advanced six requests without requiring presentations.
Those advanced without presentations are the Area Agency on Aging, $40,000; the Independent Living Center, $8,000; Freeman Health System, $11,138; Legal Aid, $30,570; Economic Security Corp. for Head Start, $8,500; and Big Brothers Big Sisters, $6,285. One other request was ruled out. The six requests that were advanced amount to $104,493 if they are funded in full.
A meeting is to be held Monday to discuss decisions on those requests presented Thursday.
Themes of the dozen presentations were helping children who are traumatized by the 2011 tornado and having behavior problems; storm shelters; a need for appliances and furnishings for residents who were wiped out and did not have insurance or enough insurance to provide all their needs; funding for rebuilding some homes; and resources to feed and house volunteers and distribute donated supplies.
Phillip Wilcoxon, the chief executive officer of Ozark Center, asked for funding of $94,000 to buy software for a platform that would allow all of Joplin’s schools, including the private ones, to provide texting via computers for students as part of mental and emotional counseling and support services.
“I think the proposal we have before you is pretty innovative,” he said. It would allow students to use texting to talk to counselors about their concerns. He said that while older people prefer to talk by telephone, the way to engage young people is by texting. He said that setting up the system and paying the software licenses would cost about $30,000 the first three years, and then Ozark Center would pay a $4,000 annual fee to support the program afterward.
He said the particular service proposed is used by 300 school districts across the country. It also would allow messages and emergency alerts to be delivered to all students or to select groups. It would be manned around the clock, and a crisis team would be in place to respond to a student’s home if need be.
The Joplin Family Y asked for $36,509 for a specialized after-school care program for children who are acting out because of tornado-related issues. Kim Gray, development director for the Family Y, said the money would pay care providers with special training in trauma work. The Y has obtained money to train its existing staff for the work to handle children with threatening problems so that the special assistants would be needed only temporarily.
Other requests: Catholic Charities, $50,000 for appliances and storm shelters for families in need; Salvation Army, $159,162 for caseworkers; St. Bernard Project/Rebuild Joplin, $210,000 for construction materials; Arc of the Ozarks, $50,000; city of Joplin, $250,000 for storm shelters; Joplin Family Worship Center, $240,064 to feed volunteers, hire recovery workers and distribute supplies; Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, $60,000 to build a house for a displaced family; Joplin Long-Term Recovery Committee, $100,000 for appliances and furnishings for displaced residents to get re-established; American Red Cross, $77,000 for educating people on disaster preparedness; and Jasper County Sheltered Facilities Association/Community Support Services, $65,850 for storm shelters.
BOARD CHAIRMAN PHIL STINNETT told applicants they would be notified within a week of the funding decisions.