United Way of Central Missouri awards $81,000 to local organizations

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JEFFERSON CITY - The United Way of Central Missouri awarded five local organizations impacted by the Jefferson City tornado in May more than $81,000 in grants Friday morning. 

President of United Way of Central Missouri Ann Bax said the tornado challenged the United Way, but the organization knew it's mission right away.

"Our mission is to mobilize people and resources for our community," she said. "That is why we exist to make our community healthier and stronger."

The United Way of Central Missouri Awarded the grant money to Homemaker Healthcare, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, Central Missouri Community Action, and River City Habitat for Humanity. 

Bax said United Way selected the five agencies because these agencies have been heavily involved in disaster relief and their resources have been tapped. She said the ultimate goal of the disaster grants is to help the community to rebuild. 

"It's something we will have to have patience because we want to do the best job we can with making sure we are accountable and efficient with our donor dollars and also make sure we are best serving disaster survivors," she said. 

The Salvation Army received a grant for $10,000 from United Way. Captain Justin Windell said this funding helps prepare for the next disaster and the affects of the recent Jefferson City tornado. 

"For the last six months our shelter has been full," he said. "If we have an empty bed in the morning because someone moves out, by the afternoon at 3:00 it is already full. "

He also said the grant money will help continue The Salvation Army's community meal program which has significantly increased since the Jefferson City tornado.

"Last year we did 25,000 meals, this year we have done 27,500 meals," Windell said. 

The United Way of Central Missouri Board of Directors approved just under $200,000 in community grant funding. Bax said $20,000 of that money is going to furniture replacement, more than $81,000 are going to the five local agencies, and the remaining dollars are going towards utility arrears and survivor's insurance deductibles. If there is funding left, Bax said she plans to put out another opportunity for disaster grants in 2020. 

"We want to make sure we do not spend it all immediately because there is going to continue to be needs that we don't even know about and we learn about as we go through this journey," she said. 

Friday marked six months to the day of the tornado devastation.