United Way

The deadline to complete a United Way community assessment survey is quickly approaching.

Paula Obermark, Franklin County Area United Way executive director, urges residents to participate in the survey which seeks public input on critical needs.

Completed surveys are due by May 25. People can access the survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/WZWMZTQ. A shorter printed survey also ran in the April 25 issue of The Missourian.

Obermark said only about 92 surveys have been received to date, which includes the newspaper survey, short surveys given to the general public through the mail, at community meetings, libraries, as well as some longer surveys. But she’s hoping for a larger response.

The surveys also were given to representative groups within the county, such as educators, clergy, business leaders, labor leaders, government officials, community planning boards and staff, senior citizens, children/family, mental health/disabled, family strengthening, nonprofit directors, board members of nonprofit organizations and specific organizations like the Division of Family Services, Jefferson-Franklin Community Action Corps.

The survey process is just one aspect of the assessment, which also includes interviews with area officials, focus groups made up of county residents and a collection of social, demographic and economic data.

Through the survey and interviews, the United Way hopes to identify emerging needs and available resources.

“The responses will serve as a guide for the next 10 years in the development and delivery of new programs and the enhancement of existing services,” Obermark said.

A similar assessment was conducted in the summer of 2000.

Obermark said questions pertaining to specific areas are being asked which include:

• Health maintenance and treatment (access to health care, dental care, community clinics);

• Safety (delinquency prevention, alternative sentencing for offenders, legal aid/representation, child abuse, family violence, victim assistance);

• Individual and family life services (counseling, parenting education/programs, youth development/programs, mentoring programs);

• Family substitute care (foster family care, group home care, long-term residential care);

• Family supplementary services (day care, afterschool programs, respite care);

Support of service system (information and referral; volunteer recruitment, placement training and supervision; coordinated planning and development, management consultation and technical assistance);

Community relations (intergovernmental relations, relationships with other counties);

Food assistance (home-delivered meals, food pantries);

Housing (affordable housing, financial assistance with rent/mortgage payments, public housing, short-term emergency shelter, energy asistance);

• Transportation (subsidized); and

Education (adult literacy, preschool, early childhood development, basic education, school dropout).

Obermark said 17 personal interviews have been held with eight more scheduled this week. These are indepth interviews that last approximately 50 minutes.

“The findings so far indicate three main issues or needs: unemployment, mental health (drugs, detox services, hospital treatment beds) and housing,” she said, noting housing refers to the lack of affordable housing and homeless.

“On the really positive side — spirit of volunteerism and strong work ethic also are cited,” Obermark said.

The personal interviews are scheduled to end May 31.

“All of the information will then be compiled and the writing will start,” Obermark said. “The final report is to be presented at the Aug. 7 United Way board meeting.”

The survey is being conducted in partnership with the United Way of Greater St. Louis.

For more information, people may contact Obermark at the Franklin County Area United Way office, 636-239-1018, or Jeanene Harris with the United Way of Greater St. Louis, 314-539-4069.