While high school can be a trying time for teenagers, it can be even worse for pregnant students.
Since the current school year began, Cape Girardeau Central High School counselor Sarah Foster said, 19 students have become pregnant. Eight teens at the school already have children.
"These situations are quite complex, as you can imagine, to work through," Foster said. "At the high school we work to support these students to stay in school."
Among the organizations that help teen moms is the Community Caring Council. But some of that assistance for teenage moms and many other needy families in the area could be in jeopardy if the United Way of Southeast Missouri fails to reach its campaign goal of $1.2 million.
Nancy Jernigan, executive director of the United Way of Southeast Missouri, said such initiatives are vital for reaching those most in need of help. But the United Way is about $100,000 short of the goal for its annual campaign with only weeks remaining.
In response, the United Way has launched the Road to Recovery Campaign. Until the end of March, when the campaign ends, the agency will use traditional media such as newspaper advertisements and radio public service announcements as well as social media including Facebook and Twitter to reach nearly 28,000 people in Cape Girardeau County who do not donate to the United Way.
Jernigan hopes each of those potential donors will give $10.
About 6,000 donors already give to the United Way, Jernigan said.
"A lot of people have already given, and we're grateful for that," Jernigan said. "But we recognize that there are a lot of people we don't reach, and we're hoping that if we reach enough people through this campaign that shortage will be erased."
Jernigan said most of the 40 programs the United Way supports reported seeing many first-time clients in 2009, including Love INC, which saw 200 new clients, and the Salvation Army, which reported seeing 3,475 people for the first time in 2009. The United Way also reported that in 2009 4-Sight Counseling prevented 277 Cape Girardeau County homes from being foreclosed on and that area schools served food to more than 4,000 students with free or reduced lunches.
Maj. Ben Stillwell said that if money is not given to the United Way, he and others may have to make some serious decisions on cutting back on programs for this year.
"The time is running out on their campaign, and it's important for folks to know that it can have a negative effect if they don't reach it," Stillwell said. "We're bare bones now, and I'd hate to think what would happen if we didn't get the amount we had budgeted for."
Chaplain Terry Wildman plans to open Shelter of Hope, an emergency homeless shelter at 320 S. Sprigg St., within a month. The United Way found that from mid-November to mid-January stimulus dollars funneled from the federal government to the county have helped 31 homeless people, which Wildman said is just another example of the need for giving to organizations like his.
"We would be dead without donations from people and organizations like the United Way because that's what we rely on," Wildman said. "It's our Christian duty to help those who don't have a place to lie down at night, especially when it's cold. Our mission starts outside our churches, and we need to take care of our own in Cape."
For more information on how to contribute, call 334-9634 or visit www.unitedwayofsemo.org. Donations may be dropped off at participating businesses, through the United Way website or by mailing a check to 430A Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701, payable to United Way of Southeast Missouri, Road to Recovery.
430A Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO
320 S. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, MO
701 Good Hope St., Cape Girardeau, MO
Cape Girardeau locations
* Alliance Bank, 217 N. Kingshighway
* First State Community Bank, 2527 William St. and 1602 N. Kingshighway
* Regions Bank, 407 N. Kingshighway and 101 S. Mount Auburn Road
* Bank of Missouri, 1622 N. Kingshighway and 3427 William St.
* US Bank, 325 N. Kingshighway and 3060 William St.
* Wood and Huston Bank, 111 S. Broadview St.
* United Way of Southeast Missouri, 430A Broadway
* BOLD Marketing, 2031 Cape LaCroix Road, Suite A
* Select Physical Therapy, 240 S. Mount Auburn Road
* Regions Bank, 2210 E. Jackson Blvd.
* Bank of Missouri, 233 W. Jackson Blvd.
* US Bank, 3010 E. Jackson Blvd.
* Wood and Huston Bank, 2999 E. Jackson Blvd.
Scott City locations:
* Regions Bank, 2400 S. Main St.
* Regions Bank, 320 N. Main St.
* Bank of Missouri, 18 W. Sainte Marie St.
* US Bank, 100 E. Sainte Marie St.