United Way Gets Columbia Community Involved

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COLUMBIA - For 20-year-old Tiffany Jones getting sick is not an option. Jones does not have healthcare and as a single-mother she tries not to think about what would happen if she ever had a medical emergency.

"My daughter has healthcare. As long as she is protected, I'm ok" Jones said.

United Way is at hard work researching ways to address problems like this that affect residents of Mid-Missouri and Columbia.

It's conducting research as it moves from its old fundraising model to a new Community Impact model. The new model seeks to identify the underlying elements that are the basis for successful lives and communities.

"It is our hope to find the root causes of poverty. Changing the way we deal with the problem will give us a different outcome," said Tim Rich the executive director for United Way.

The new model will focus on areas of income, health, education and provide safety net services.

"Some people may be skeptical of the new model and even afraid, but it has the potential to really address the issue of generational poverty," said Peggy Kirkpatrick, the executive director for the Foodbank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

40 percent of Missouri public school children live in poverty. Community leaders said the future of our children is the motivation needed to get everyone involved.

"Providing students with a strong educational foundation outside of school is essentia," said career counselor Janice Dawson-Threat.

"A hot-healthy meal and a caring environment can change the paths of our youth," said Valorie Livingston, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia.

United way stressed that everyone in the community has a part in ending the achievement gap in the community.