United Way hands out awards for best efforts

Friday, March 31, 2006

The United Way of Southeast Missouri recognized Community Spirit Award recipients at its annual meeting Thursday at Drury Lodge.

Awards were presented to an individual, a business and a United Way-funded partner that have made exemplary efforts to support the community through their work with the United Way.

"These people have a tremendous impact on the community, and they should be an inspiration to us all," said Jeff Cunningham, anchorman at KFVS12.

Melvin Gately, a retired civic leader, received the Spirit of Giving Award because of his efforts over the past seven years to raise the contributions of the Public Service Division from $48,000 to more than $154,000. Gately has served on the Cape Girardeau City Council, Vision 2000 and the United Way Campaign Cabinet.

The Spirit of Community Award was presented to KFVS12/UPN The Beat for its facilitation of employee community involvement. The television station contributed a combined corporate and employee gift of more than $19,000 for the 2005 campaign.

The Boys and Girls Club received the Spirit of Caring Award. Since 1961, this organization has inspired and enabled thousands of young people to realize their potential. The Boys and Girls Club provides care and direction to the community's youths through a variety of programs.

New total for 2005

A new 2005 fund-raising campaign total was announced at the meeting. The new total of approximately $1.15 million is $100,000 more than the goal.

"We've been changing lives for more than 50 years. And it's all of you who help us," executive director Nancy Jernigan said to the room full of agency executives and staff, board members, campaign volunteers and community leaders.

Future United Way efforts include two initiatives focusing on the community's youth.

THRIVE promotes the philosophy that everyone in a community is responsible for helping create a positive experiences for youths. Last week it introduced a communitywide plan which adopted 40 developmental asset-initiative in an effort to foster positive development of the community's youths.

Family Foundation Initiative, which is being implemented by the Boys and Girls Club, focuses on strategies to help children at risk of failing in school become successful. More than 75 Cape Girardeau public school children and their families are involved in the program.

Jernigan also highlighted the United Way's past year's accomplishments and cited its involvement with current programs -- First Call for Help, the Housing Needs Coordinating Committee, the Youth Substance Abuse Coalition, Love INC. and the Community Assessment Process.

"We're beginning to focus on significant issues," Jernigan said. "All of our efforts share a common theme -- none of them were accomplished solely by the United Way. Every effort was a collaboration of hundreds of people freely giving time, money and other resources to improve our community."

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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