y Brenda Fike

Ledger Managing Editor

United Way of Audrain County held its major employer kickoff Wednesday.

Area businesses heard from some of the United Way agencies.

Melissa Buckman Young, 2017 United Way of Audrain County Campaign chairperson, addressed those attending. Buckman Young said everyone has a talent. "I can't do what you agencies do but I can help raise money," she said. She added that everyone has talent and time to help the United Way agencies.

Buckman Young said the goal this year for United Way of Audrain County is $125,000.

Agency speakers included Janelle Williams, Audrain County Crisis Intervention Services Inc.; Tad Dobyns and Mary Rohrback, Central Missouri Community Action; Martin Keller, Handi-Shop Inc.; Brenda Porter, Rainbow House and Ron Dial, Northeast Community Service Agency.

Williams told about what ACCIS does in the community. It was founded in 1992 as a domestic violence shelter for Audrain County and provides various domestic and sexual violence services. Domestic violence is increasing. In 2015 ACCIS had 770 cases; and 880 in 2016. Williams said she received new numbers this week and Audrain County is ranked No.1. She said there is a lot of work to be done and that is why the United Way is so important. "United Way gives us a voice," she said.

Central Missouri Community Action empowers individuals and families to achieve self-reliance. Dobyns turned his portion of the program over to Rohrback, who explained what she does with CMCA. She teaches parenting skills, helps people with employment, and teachers career classes.

The Handi-Shop Inc. has been in business for 44 years. It provides employment for people with disabilities. Keller explained some of the jobs the 57 employees perform. The Handi-Shop provides recycling and jobs for various area business. It also operates the Seconds To Go resale shop.

The Rainbow House performs forensic interview with court and provides counseling and other resources for sexually and severely abused children. Porter said United Way helps for the ongoing training for forensic advocates.

Northeast Community Service Agency proves an alternate sentencing in the form of community service and restitution for juvenile and adult offenders. Dial said the agency has a 70 percent success rate. The agency has been offering help to offenders for 18 years.

The evening ended with Jim Spargo, president of the United Way Board, stating the United Way is a great organization and helps many agencies and people. He said the goal is to help people in the community. He also stated the money raised from United Way of Audrain County stays in the community.

United Way of Audrain County funds 16 agencies. In addition to the ones listed above other agencies include: A+ for Mexico Education, Agape House of Vandalia, AHD-Medical Assistance Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Great Rivers Council In., Boy Scouts of America, Children's Therapy & Early Education School Inc., Audrain 4-H Special Program; Mexico Area YMCA, Mexico Senior Center, St. Joseph Early Learning Center and The Laura Miller George Help Center.

The United Way Community kickoff will be held from 5-7 p.m. September 20 at the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce.