New building, same goals for recently relocated United Way

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Nancy Jernigan, executive director of the Area Wide United Way, stood while talking to Amy Houseman, Youth United Way director, Monday in the agency's new facility at 430 Broadway. (Fred Lynch)

The United Way of Southeast Missouri recently moved into its new location on Broadway after outgrowing the old facility down the street.

A number of available commercial properties were reviewed by the local board of directors but the old Concord Publishing building offered by Jon Rust, publisher of the Southeast Missourian, was the most feasible option for the not-for-profit organization, according to Nancy Jernigan, executive director of United Way of Southeast Missouri.

The organization moved into its new location at 430 Broadway in the first part of April and sold the former building to Farmers Insurance shortly afterward. The money from the property was used toward the new office space.

United Way will remain in its leased location for up to five years. A capital campaign may eventually be started to raise money for a more centrally located building, Jernigan said.

United Way of Southeast Missouri serves the Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Scott City area.

As the organization's focus has shifted away from general fund-raising and toward community impact over the 12 years Jernigan has been with the organization, she said United Ways has worked with more agencies and a few new full-time employees have been hired.

The goal of the organization is not to form more programs in the community but to collaborate with existing programs and address specific issues in the area.

"As the world gets more complex, so do the issues," Jernigan said. "No one entity is responsible. It's not just the business community, social services or religious organizations, but all of us working together to create a healthier community."

For example, an issue on the rise in the community as of late is children at risk of failing school and about five years ago United Ways worked to help make incentives and resources available for the accreditation of day-care centers so children receive the necessary preparation to enter kindergarten. Most recently, the LIFE Family initiative designed to aid at-risk students was expanded, resulting in 80 to 100 local children enrolling in after-school programs this past year.

United Way met and exceeded its local campaign goals in 2006, bringing in more than a million dollars to help support 38 agencies and 48 programs.

Donors know that their money stays in the community when they support the organization, Jernigan said, adding that the services have reached out as far as Perry and Bollinger counties.

United Way has had a presence in Cape Girardeau since 1954.

tkrakowiak@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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