Agency Tour Showcases Efforts

United Way donors had a chance Thursday to see firsthand how their contributions are improving lives in the Franklin County area.

About 35 people attended an agency tour, the first of two to be hosted by the United Way this year.

“It was amazing — very inspiring,” said Kim Strubberg, United Way executive director.

Strubberg said participants met at United Bank of Union for pastries and coffee and then boarded buses which transported them to three agencies — Empac Group in Sullivan, Union Food Pantry and Children’s Advocacy Center, also in Union.

Empac provides employment opportunities for residents with disabilities.

The Union Food Pantry serves as an emergency source of food for families and individuals living within the Union School District boundaries.

Children’s Advocacy Center of East Central Missouri provides advocacy and interviewing services to children who are possible victims of criminal child abuse.

Transportation was provided by OATS and Franklin County Transportation Council, both of which are United Way member agencies.

“The tour really highlights the power of your donation,” said Strubberg. “Seeing the different ways each agency puts United Way funds to use is so impressive.”

The group included representatives of the United Way’s Top 30 corporate donors and new businesses planning to hold United Way campaigns this year, as well as board members and agency representatives.

“We had several people there with manufacturing backgrounds and I think they found the visits really informational,” said Sandy Langenberg, United Way program coordinator. “To see the innovative things these agencies are doing was really inspiring.”

A second agency tour will be offered Sept. 11 with stops at Exceptional Equestrians in Washington, Gateway Education & Therapy and Franklin County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), both in Union.

Exceptional Equestrians is a volunteer-based therapeutic horsemanship program which provides therapy and recreation for people with disabilities.

Gateway Education & Therapy provides services for children with special needs, including speech/language therapy, tutoring, behavior therapy and life skills classes.

CASA, a new United Way agency, advocates for the best interest of children of abuse and neglect who are under the protection of the Franklin County Juvenile Court.

The 2014 United Way drive will kick off in early September. This year’s goal will be announced at the kickoff breakfast July 31.