Lutheran group to break ground on Cape building today

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

With the help of donations from the Kasten family and Charles and Shirley Drury, the Lutheran Family and Children's Services of Missouri will break ground on the new 6,500-square-foot Vernon L. Kasten Center today.

The ceremony will be at 11 a.m. at the site of the center, 3178 Blattner Drive in Cape Girardeau. Among those attending will be Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson.

The new location will more than double the social service organization's space, allowing the LFCS to hold staff meetings, training and support groups on-site. The lack of space in the current 2,000-square-foot facility at Breckenridge Drive causes the LFCS to hold its meetings in area churches. The new facility also will allow more adequate parking and easy access to the highway and public transportation.

"We've received great leadership from the community and our staff in Cape Girardeau," said Alan Erdman, president and CEO of LFCS from the St. Louis office. Erdman will be present during the groundbreaking.

Money from the sale of the Breckenridge Drive building will help pay for the new $550,000 building. Melody Anderson, regional development officer for LFCS, said capital campaigns have raised $889,000 thus far and fund raising will continue until the end of the year, when construction of the facility is expected to be completed. The goal is to reach $1 million.

Anderson said $370,000 of the amount will be used to maintain and expand program services and $80,000 will go to previous debt.

LFCS is a not-for-profit social services organization serving the state of Missouri. The organization has been in existence since 1868, when it was founded as a residence for children left homeless after the Civil War.

Since 1973, the Cape Girardeau office of LFCS has provided senior counseling, domestic and international adoption, crisis pregnancy counseling, parenting classes, an Alzheimer's disease support group, an abstinence-only education program and youth mentoring services to Southeast Missouri. LFCS works with more than 22,000 people annually through offices in Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, Columbia and Springfield.

Services are available to everyone regardless of race, faith, national origin, gender or age, said Molly Strickland, the Southeast Missouri regional director of LFCS. Although Lutheran-based, more than 80 percent of the families served are not Lutheran.

"Catholic Christians and Lutheran Christians have come together to do something beneficial for our community," Anderson said.

The Drurys, who are Catholic, support the mission of the LFCS as well as the Lutheran community for being responsive to the needs of the sick, underprivileged and elderly, said Charles Drury.

The new building will be named for the late Vernon Kasten Sr. of Jackson, who actively supported the LFCS throughout his life. His family has followed in his footsteps.

"My father always thought it was a life-changing service that affected participants for the rest of their lives," said Vernon Kasten Jr. "He was a humble man, but I'm sure he's very proud of this."

tkrakowiak@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 13

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