Three CHHSM Direct Service Providers Receive Safety Net Grants from United Way of Greater St. Louis

The grant will help Deaconess Nurse Ministry supply nurses to area community outreach programs.

On June 17, the Rev. Donna Smith-Pupillo RN, executive director of Deaconess Nurse Ministry in St. Louis, received the good news from United Way of Greater St. Louis that Deaconess had been named a Safety Net grant recipient. At about the same time, Emmaus Homes and Unleashing Potential were notified that they, too, were grant recipients.

“This money is a blessing as we continue to care for our neighbors who struggle to have healthcare, especially during this COVID-19 crisis,” says Smith-Pupillo. “It will support us as we work within food pantries and outreach centers, and will help us have nurses in crucial community sites to ensure the health of all.”

The grants, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2021, last for three years. Grantees will find out the amounts of their grants in November, following the United Way’s annual fundraising drive. Smith-Pupillo says Deaconess applied for $95,000 and will use the grant monies for both general operations and its community outreach program.

“Deaconess Nurse Ministry has worked hard with its board and nurses to get to the point that we meet all of the over 100 quality standards for becoming a safety net funded agency by the United Way of Greater St. Louis,” adds Smith-Pupillo.

The Safety Net program is a new funding strategy within United Way of St. Louis, and was created following a three-year needs assessment. In broad terms, the safety net category is for direct service providers whose programs would likely cease if United Way funding ceased.

All of Unleashing Potential’s outreach programs will benefit from the grant. Here, President and CEO Sowell (right) congratulates recent scholarship recipients.

Unleashing Potential, a United Way agency since 1955, uses United Way funding to offset the cost of its programs. An important provider of early childhood, youth development, and before and after school services in St. Louis, Unleashing Potential may receive as much as $600,000 from United Way. “It would be difficult to raise $600,000, and would be devastating to the families” to not have the funds, says Darlene Sowell, president and CEO. “We value United Way’s commitment to the community [and] we want to continue that relationship.”

For Emmaus Homes, which annually serves hundreds of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the grant will help provide more than 1 million hours of direct service each year to people with developmental disabilities. “There is a 25 percent gap between the [general] funding Emmaus receives and the actual cost to provide services,” says Lisa Key, chief development officer. “The United Way’s Safety Net grant will help fill that gap.”

The Safety Net grant will help ensure consistency of support to Emmaus Homes’ clients.

In addition to supporting Emmaus’ general operations, the grant will be used toward wages for frontline staff. “The COVID pandemic has shown just how important these essential workers are. But what if they weren’t there? What if you had a developmental disability and weren’t sure who would be supporting you on any given day?” Key says. “Consistent support is key to our clients’ success. Funding from the United Way will help Emmaus strengthen our thread in the safety net as we press through the challenges to enrich the lives of people with developmental disabilities.”

Cindy Clark, president and CEO of Emmaus Homes, says Emmaus is grateful for its continued relationship with United Way of Greater St. Louis. “The holistic services that Emmaus provides are a good fit with the impact the United Way is trying to accomplish with its Safety Net funding,” she says. “They want to support people with the most important building blocks in their lives. Emmaus certainly does that, and so much more.”

All three CHHSM members are hopeful the new funding model will mean continuing, consistent assistance for needed St. Louis programming. Unleashing Potential’s Sowell is particularly aware of the funding needs of its nonprofit community partners: such partners as Deaconess Nurse Ministry, which provides a nurse for Unleashing Potential’s programs. The United Way funding is necessary, Sowell says. “I’m glad that Deaconess is able to be a part of it as well.”

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