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The Franklin County Area United Way has distributed over $10,300 from its COVID-19 emergency fund to assist its member agencies.

In its first round of funding, the United Way donated $500 each to seven food pantries — Agape Help House, Pacific; Loving Hearts, Washington; Union Food Pantry; St. Peter’s UCC, Washington; Community Outreach, Gerald; Meramec Community Mission, Sullivan; and New Haven Community Outreach.

This week, $500 is being distributed to ALIVE, Buddies Not Bullies, Exceptional Equestrians, Heartland Independent Living and VOYCE.

Three other agencies are receiving more due to operational needs or equipment purchases. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and Lutheran Family and Children’s Services, will both receive $1,000 each, and Compass Health Network (formerly Crider) will receive $827.

“We’re pleased to be able to distribute these funds and the agencies have been very appreciative,” said Kim Strubberg, executive director. “This round of funding focused on mental health needs and children.”

The remaining funds, about $4,600, will likely be distributed in June or as the needs arise, said Strubberg, who checks in with the agencies regularly.

The United Way established its COVID-19 Fund after receiving $6,000 from the corporate office of Schnucks, along with an additional $2,770.68 from the “Round Up at the Register” campaign, and individual donations from community members.

Meeting Needs

ALIVE, which provides support services and short-term emergency shelter to adults and children victimized by domestic violence, plans to use the funding for rental and utility assistance for its clients, along with purchasing food and diapers.

Buddies Not Bullies plans to use funds to transition all its classes to distance learning for future/on-going extended school closures. The anti-bullying agency also has discussed putting parent courses and other items on its website in the future.

Exceptional Equestrians, which is slowly reopening, will use the funding to purchase more PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks and washable covers for saddles and plastic coverings for reins, as well as cleaning supplies, in order to serve its clients safely.

The volunteer-based, therapeutic horsemanship program provides therapy and recreation for individuals with disabilities. Exceptional Equestrians said it’s currently serving only about 20 clients, but hopes to increase that number to 100 by mid-June.

At Heartland Independent Living Center, the emergency funding will be used to purchase thermometers, sanitizing wipes and spray disinfectant to keep clients and staff safe.

The agency provides services to individuals with disabilities to assist them in attaining and maintaining their independence.

Heartland officials said they have been able to find an affordable resource for N95 masks and disposable gloves.

VOYCE, which assists people with finding long-term care, and advocates for and supports residents of long-term care facilities, plans to use the funds for PPE once its staff can visit long-term care facilities again.

There are 12 long-term care communities in Franklin County and 759 residents living in them.

Training Volunteers

CASA plans to utilize the funding to train and supervise more CASA volunteers for the additional children entering foster care. These volunteers provide advocacy for children who are victims of abuse/neglect and are under the protection of the juvenile court system.

During quarantine, CASA volunteers began making virtual visits and worked to creatively stay connected with their children through text, phone calls and other means, officials said.

Because of the coronavirus, CASA officials anticipate its need for additional child advocates to increase in the coming months.

Lutheran Family and Children’s Services said the emergency funding will help provide financial and material support for individuals and families who may be struggling with unstable employment and in need of child care, rent or food assistance.

The money also will be used to purchase diapers, baby wipes or car seats to help create a safe environment for the child.

As a health care system, Compass Health Network said it’s navigating uncharted waters with the present pandemic. The agency had to quickly modify services and protocols at all clinic locations and all programs to ensure the safety and well-being of customers and staff.

Some of its largest expenditures have been for PPE and other protective devices for staff, as well as laptops. 

With the United Way funding, Compass plans to purchase an Ultraviolet (UV) Sterilization Cabinet for its Union location to provide reliable infection control, reducing the spread of microorganisms.  These cabinets utilize an ultraviolet sterilization process to clean PPE.

Strubberg said the agencies have expressed their thanks for the additional funding and the feedback and words of encouragement during these uncertain times are always appreciated.

She shared an email from Brian Martin with Compass Health Network which stated: “As always, we appreciate your partnership, support and leadership in Franklin County during these times — and all times! The United Way serves as a guiding light and beacon of hope in our community. We, Compass Health, are proud to be your partner!”