Community Resource Fair showcases social services in mid-Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - Some people in mid-Missouri will be getting the resources they need for a healthier and more successful life after attending the fourth annual Community Resource Fair. The event educated people on more than 50 service providers in mid-Missouri.

The Independent Living Resource Center, a support organization for people with disabilities, put on the event. The yearly event aims to provide people with knowledge of available educational, financial, health and employment resources and show people how they can access them. Melinda Cardone is the agency's executive director.

"Navigating social service agencies for a lot of people can be incredibly overwhelming because there's so many agencies and so many opportunities out there and often it's difficult for people to find the right resources," Cardone said. "This is our opportunity to bring them all to one place, kind of a one-stop shop, if you will, so that they can access and learn about everything that is available."

Many booths provided services especially for people with disabilities and their caregivers. Some booths displayed breathing apparatuses, shower grips and telephones for people who are hard of hearing. More Group, 1st Choice Employment Agency and Choices for People Center—agencies that provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities—also had booths.

Kennon Chalene attended the event. He said he just moved to the area and came looking for job, housing and transportation opportunities. 

"Everyone's been very polite and gave us a lot of information," he said.

Chalene said he tore his rotator cuff about a year ago working in his concrete company, but he did not come to the fair looking for disability services specifically.

"I'm looking for more like vocational rehab, which I got to talk to those folks, and they help put you back in the workforce," he said. 

People at the fair took brochures, signed up for more information and began paperwork to become clients. The event was also a place for people to get free health screenings, such as a glaucoma screening, posture check and brief spinal exam.   

"We're something for everybody," she said. "We started out being specific for persons with disabilities, but everybody knows someone with a disability."

The fair took place at Capital Mall in Jefferson City. Cardone said around 150 people attended the fair last year, but the exact count is difficult to determine because of the mall's many entrances. She said the number of booths has grown each year.