Recently, about 50 residents came together at Bookhouse Cinema in Joplin seeking to form a nonpartisan group dedicated to encouraging informed and active participation in government.

Representatives from the League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri answered questions and provided recommendations to attendees interested in getting a Joplin area chapter underway.

We’ve wondered why our community hasn’t formed a chapter sooner. The league sponsors voter registration drives and provides nonpartisan informational voter guides as well as sponsoring issue or candidate forums and debates.

The more eligible voters who register and vote, the more closely the electorate reflects the will of our community. More engaged and informed voters can more readily make good decisions about issues and candidates.

“I think the Joplin area is lacking in voter engagement and voter education,” K.J. McDonald, of Duquesne, said. “I know a handful of folks who didn’t even know we were having a city election during the last city election. I think there’s definitely a need for somebody to be stepping up to make sure people are registered, they know their rights as a voter and that they have all of the information they need in order to be an educated, informed voter.”

That about says it all. McDonald, one of the organizers, hopes to have the group operating before the 2020 election. The effort has launched. If the group sticks the landing, we’ll soon see a Joplin Area League of Women Voters.

We look forward to it.

The quality of Mercy

Mercy Caritas grants amounting to half a million dollars were announced Tuesday. The grants went to 29 organizations that help people in need, including three agencies in Joplin.

Locally, Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri, St. Peter the Apostle Outreach House and Watered Gardens Ministry received funds from the charity.

Watered Gardens received a $22,000 grant for its Forge Center for Virtue and Work, a yearlong intensive program to assist those struggling with homelessness, incarceration or addiction.

St. Peter the Apostle Outreach House, 807 S. Moffett Ave. in Joplin, received a grant of $7,000 to continue serving meals to those in need.

The Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri, a local nonprofit that offers medical and dental services to those without insurance, was awarded $12,000 for its Chronic Lung Disease Management and Prevention Program.

The annual grants are expected to benefit more than 48,000 people. The grants from Caritas will help organizations across seven states that serve children, elderly, homeless and uninsured people. We applaud the support given to nonprofits who can serve more through Mercy Hospital’s charity.