Story by Tiffany Burns | Sep 21, 2017

This month, our local Unmet Needs committee resumed their annual meetings. Started by order of Governor Carnahan in 1993, the group’s original purpose was to address the needs of those affected by the floods of 1993. Leading the group at that time, Marylyn DeFeo of the Samaritan Center, Connie Cunningham of United Way, and Bill Anthony of FEMA summoned agencies from around the city for monthly meetings, thus forming an impactful, behind the scenes committee that would continue to increase its membership and expand its reach over the next fifteen years. (Photo of the flood of 93’ courtesy of the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau). In 2015, the United Way took ownership of the group to accommodate its continued growth and offer a permanent location.

The Unmet Needs committee allows a unique platform for not-for-profit organizations within our community to network together, learn from each other, and collaborate to maximize the amount and type of assistance given to individuals in need. Currently, the group meets nine months out of the year, but is anticipated to expand to year round meetings in the next couple years at the request of its members. There are around 85 local agencies belonging to the Unmet Needs committee and more than half the members commit to attending meetings on a regular basis. Each month, one agency is selected to share in-depth about their organization, which typically includes a slide show, verbal presentation, and other advertised and unadvertised programming information. Kicking off the fall season this month was the Salvation Army, presented by husband and wife team, Jefferson City Corps Officers LTs. Christopher and Rachel White. The couple shared information about their ministry, the food pantry, local shelter, thrift store, free legal services, and Camp Mihaska. Camp Mihaska is a Christian retreat which offers 11 different summer camps in Bourbon, Missouri. The camp, open to families of all incomes and ages, lasts three to four days with most sessions costing $10.

At each meeting, the agencies in attendance go around the room and introduce themselves, taking a few minutes to share about new programs, upcoming events, or other organization news. This is also the time when the agencies share the needs of the clients they service, allowing other members the opportunity to assist. Many nonprofits focus on servicing a specialized population, however, by being a part of a network like the Unmet Needs committee, organizations are able to educate one another on available programs and services so that appropriate referrals can be made to those in need. The group is open to mostly nonprofits, or agencies with nonprofit programs, that can provide free or discounted services to benefit members of the community. If your agency is interested in becoming a part of Unmet Needs, please contact Sarah Schatsiek at United Way at sarah.schatsiek@unitedwaycemo.org.

For more about community need, check out our past blogs.