Unmet Needs Committee Celebrates 30 Years of Service to Our Community

The Unmet Needs Committee is a community-wide committee of health and human service organizations that meets monthly to share resources, network and provide case conferencing as needed.

The committee was originally formed due to the flood of 1993. Now, thirty years later, the committee still meets monthly. The original committee was formed to identify available resources, gaps in resources and sources for closing those gaps and to assess unmet needs through the development of a case management system. The mission of the Unmet Needs committee was to provide recovery services to individuals and families affected by natural disaster and/or community emergencies. The Unmet Needs Committee took on the role of a COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster). In the early days of the committee, organizations met regularly to provide case management services to individuals and families. The committee was led by Marylyn DeFeo, Volunteer Executive of the Samaritan Center. When a family is affected by disaster, reaching a level of self-sustainability will take three to five years. The goal of recovery is to bring a community back to a new normal after the devastation of the disaster.

Over the years, the committee saw the value of meeting regularly to assist families and continue networking with health and human service agencies, so the committee continued. The monthly meetings consisted of a featured speaker, agency updates and case management.

United Way had always participated throughout the years. In September of 2015, the United Way of Central Missouri was asked to take over leading the group. This opportunity aligns with United Way’s mission and vision to improve people’s lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community; and to be the leader in bringing partners and resources together to address priority needs and provide solutions that strengthen our community. The committee continues to meet and has kept the meeting format similar as in the past. A typical meeting currently has 35-40 people present.

In 2019, the Unmet Needs Committee responded to the tornado that tore through mid-Missouri. United Way mobilized the caring power ofour community by initiating a meeting with the Unmet Needs committee to address the short and long term needs of disaster survivors. Through this committee, a Short-Term Immediate Needs Recovery Committee (STRC) was formed to address immediate needs of disaster survivors and to limit duplication of services. In addition, it was also a way to streamline the process, work collaboratively with community agencies and faith based organizations, and develop a system for long-term recovery. Over sixty organizations came together to address immediate needs. From there, a Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) was formed.

Subcommittees were established for material donations, monetary donations, volunteers, case management, community assessment & social service agency resources, spiritual & emotional care, and housing & construction. An LTRC is essential if and when a FEMA declaration is made, which will bring in additional resources to our communities. The LTRC continued to meet regularly from 2019 - 2021 and then occasionally in 2022 and 2023 as case management cases were completed. Today, the LTRC has one active case.

In 2020, the Unmet Needs committee came together to address the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Way of Central Missouri and the City of Jefferson initiated the Cole County COVID Assistance Helpline, and the Unmet Needs Committee members were instrumental in assisting with this important resource. This helpline allowed Cole County to have one phone number for community members to access groceries and prescription medication delivery and other direct services. This collaborative effort was made possible through the partnership with health and human service organizations, churches and organizations already providing these services in order to work together efficiently, effectively and compassionately to serve those in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, the Unmet Needs Committee meets at the United Way office at 8:30 am on the first Wednesday of every month. Recently, the group established a Google Drive folder to share resources and upcoming events in the community. The committee list has grown to over 200 community members.
If you would like to join the Unmet Needs Committee, please e-mail kerrie.delaney@unitedwaycemo.org or call the United Way office at 573-636-4100.