Awards, recognition of members and discussion of various reports were the highlights of the Barry-Lawrence Advocates Standing Together (BLAST) February meeting held at the Happy House restaurant in Monett.
BLAST members were recognized for their continued efforts to aid and assist citizens in the bi-county area with various resources. Anita Franson, with United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS), handed out the tokens of appreciation.
Lawrence County Children's Advocate Pauline Gage reported receipt of $6,367 for the Magnum grant, supporting the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department's canine officer. Gage noted the grant is expected to be an ongoing effort.
These particular funds came from American Dehydrated Foods, in Verona, and will be utilized to maintain a special cage with temperature control and tinted windows for the canine.
Service animals of Magnum's caliber tend to run from $5,000 and up, depending on their level of training. Magnum is a certified search animal, trained to detect narcotics, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, hash and other illicit substances. He is also trained to detect alcohol and tobacco, track fleeing suspects and people who are lost.
Gloria Brown, with UMOS Headstart, was present, noting a $3,000 dental grant available for uninsured Lawrence County youth.
Kathleen King, with the Barry County Health Department, noted a dental grant designed for homeless women in the amount of $4,160 was also available. King also noted that Barry County has family planning offices in both Monett and Cassville.
In addition, the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence provided information regarding the third round of the AARP Foundation Women's Scholarship Program, which opened on Feb 3.
The scholarship is open to low-income women age 40 and up. Priority is given to women in the following categories:
• Women raising the children of another family member;
• Women who are underemployed, and,
• Women returning to work after an extended period of time.
The scholarships are to be used for tuition and books and are payable to the educational institution.
Family Resource Specialist Tammy Gleason, with the OACAC Lawrence County Neighborhood Center, was also present for the meeting.
According to Gleason, OACAC is planning the development of a network consisting of key community members, such as local faith-based organizations, health departments, law enforcement and many more.
The purpose of the network will be to assess available information in regards to target population, determine curriculum and develop opportunities for relationship planning. Several county OACAC Neighborhood Centers will be working on this strategy under a two-year grant provided by the state.
In January, BLAST held its last general meeting with a presentation. Timmarie Hamilton, with Community Partnership of the Ozarks, discussed the 40 building blocks and had many handouts available as resources.
The 40 building blocks are assets that children need to develop to reduce the risk of risky behaviors, to succeed in school and to maintain good health. The 40 assets are divided into four groups, consisting of support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time.
BLAST will be having board meetings on a quarterly basis with the next scheduled meeting on tap for April 30 at the UMOS office in Mt. Vernon.