Health foundation awards nearly half-million to area not-for-profits

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New vans to get much-needed meals to the elderly. More counseling time for women who have suffered from domestic or sexual violence. Helping smokers -- and others with serious addictions -- quit for good.

The Missouri Foundation for Health announced Tuesday it is pumping almost a half a million dollars to five not-for-profit organizations in Cape Girardeau and Jackson that work to improve the lives of thousands of area residents.

The organizations will receive a total of $476,575, part of the foundation's latest $7.8 million statewide round of grants recently approved by its board of directors.

"We were able to recognize that they were doing really important work in the community," said foundation spokeswoman Julie Johnson. "They are all working in areas that especially need health services and reaching folks that really need assistance."

The organizations include:

* 4-Sight Counseling, $100,000, to help provide mental health services to low-income patients

* Jackson Senior Center, $100,000, to pay for new vans to deliver meals to seniors and the disabled

* The Youth Substance Abuse Coalition, $64,000, to provide substance abuse prevention, awareness and education programs

* Saint Francis Medical Center, $123,510, to assist the medical center expand its smoking-cessation programming

* Southeast Missouri Safe House for Women, $89,065, to expand its therapy services and reduce post-traumatic stress disorder in women who are victims of sexual and domestic violence.

The Jackson Senior Center had applied for years, but this marked the first time the center received a foundation grant, said executive director Debbie Stockton.

"We were just lucky this time," she said. "We're just very blessed and very happy."

The center intends to use the money, which comes in three payments over three years, to replace some of its four vans that are used to deliver meals daily to 130 homebound seniors, Stockton said.

"Our vehicles really are in need of repairs," she said. "We put a lot of mileage on them."

At the Safe House For Women, executive director Linda Garner said they've received several grants from the foundation over the past few years. They intend to use the money to reduce the number of counselors from two and a half to three, she said. They currently have a part-time counselor who will be converted to full time, which will mean another 20 hours that a counselor is available for female victims of abuse.

"The impact is we'll be able to provide more services," Garner said. "We don't have a waiting list, but we're on the verge. Clients do have to wait a week or two before they see a counselor, but our goal is to have no wait. The sooner we can get them in, the better. This will help."

The organization's outreach office at 1810 E. Plaza Way sees 76 women a year, Garner said. With this money, they hope to increase that number by 5 percent a year, she said.

"Counseling really makes a difference in women who have experienced sexual and domestic assault," she said. "Being able to provide that service without a restricted number of times they can see a counselor, it really does make a difference in the outcome. Survivors tell us it truly does make a difference."

The foundation, which has nearly $1 billion in assets, is the state's largest provider of nongovernmental community health projects and the not-for-profit provides $50 million in grants each year, Johnson said.

The foundation was created in 2001 out of the conversion of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri from not-for-profit status to a for-profit company. In those 10 years, the foundation has given out $430 million.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

937 Broadway Suite 305, Cape Girardeau, MO

2690 Travelers Way, Jackson, MO

937 Broadway Suite 306, Cape Girardeau, MO

211 Saint Francis Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

1810 E. Plaza Way, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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