Junior Auxiliary of Taney County Encourages Local Teens to Continue Their Learning by Awarding Seven Scholarships

Four deserving seniors were honored recently with college scholarships from the Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC). JATC provided a $750 non-renewable scholarship to a graduating senior at each of the four Taney County high schools. This year’s recipients were: Madison Shipley, Bradleyville; Katelyn Patrick, Branson; Ashley Matthews, Forsyth; and Kyla McClintic, Hollister. The selection of these recipients was based primarily on volunteer service to their communities, above and beyond any school requirements, in addition to academic accomplishments and personal recommendations.

A fifth $750 Scholarcare renewable scholarship award available for up to four years was presented to a graduating senior who can benefit from the money as well as a little extra personal encouragement and care packages that JATC members provide monthly throughout the year. This year Kylie Calhoun, Forsyth was selected to receive this award based on personal essays and recommendations accompanying her application. We are also proud to announce that Kayli Nimmo and Bryce Reinke,
both of Branson, qualified to renew their $750 ScholarCare awards. Bryce commented “Thank you very much for blessing me this year! God knew that I definitely needed some extra encouragement to get me through my first year at College of the Ozarks. Thank you again so much for all of your support throughout the year! “

JATC is proud to be able to provide support and encouragement to these students as they pursue their education and move into adulthood. These Scholarships and Scholarcare Awards are just one of the many projects and services offered in Taney County by the members of JATC. More information about the organization and its projects is available on the website, JATCMO.org.

JATC projects also include Book Swap where JA members exchange books once a month at three different extended-stay motels to give children a chance to improve their reading skills; Tender Critters for children in trauma; Santa’s Gift House; Prom Dresses for girls in need; financial and labor support for the Crisis Center of Taney County including birthday parties and kid therapy so that moms may attend counseling sessions; Shoe Box Project filled with fun items such as Legos, Birdhouse kits, Sonic Sound magnets, Play-Doh, stickers, Silly Putty, coloring books and crayons, and delivered to Mark Twain and Bradleyville Elementary Schools for children in Pre-K through 4th Grade just in time for Spring Break to provide them with activities for Spring Break; and School Supplies “refreshment” in January for elementary schools in Eastern Taney County.

JATC is more than a nonprofit organization, it’s a group of women united by a single cause and dedicated to helping the children of Taney County. That’s the magic of JATC. It was chartered by a group of caring, enthusiastic women in 1998 and continues to grow and thrive throughout Taney County. Approximately 50 members annually contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours as they strive to improve the mental, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children in Taney County.

Our major fundraiser – a fun Trivia Challenge with dinner, live entertainment, and a Silent Auction – had to be canceled last year! THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THE 20TH ANNUAL TRIVIA CHALLENGE HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 AT THE CHATEAU ON THE LAKE. We hope all our supporters will SAVE THE DATE and join us there. Support for our organization turns into support for the children in our community. And, as you all know, community support became even more essential during the Pandemic. Special thanks for the donations we have received from corporate charitable giving (e.g., Amazon Smile, Benevity Funds, Walmart, and White River Electric), generous local businesses, and churches (e.g., Belk. Mr. G’s, Branson’s Cowboy Church located at God & Country Theatre, Doug Baker State Farm Insurance, Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat, 417 Fundraising, Branson Bank, Central Bank, First Community Bank, Edward Jones – Mitch and Jennifer Holmes, Edward Jones – Mac McGregor, Target, and Lowe’s.)

JATC is more than a nonprofit organization, it’s a group of women united by a single cause. We are dedicated to helping and making a difference in the lives of the children of Taney County. That’s the magic of JATC. It was chartered by a group of caring, enthusiastic women in 1998 and continues to grow and thrive throughout Taney County. Approximately 40 members annually contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours as they strive to improve the mental, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children in Taney County. JATC is part of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA), a non-profit organization founded in 1941 with headquarters in Greenville, Mississippi. NAJA has more than 15,500 active, associate, and life members in 98 chapters located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Their slogan is “Caring Hearts—Helping Hands—Changing Lives”.

More information on JATC can be found on the Junior Auxiliary website JATCMO.ORG, their Facebook page, Junior Auxiliary of Taney County, or via email at jatcmo@gmail.com.

Taney County Treatment Court takes Holistic Approach to Recovery

By AL Vineyard for Drug Free Ozarks

When a person has a substance use disorder, nearly every aspect of their life, including relationships, mental and emotional health, job skills, education, lifestyle, and parenting are affected.

If the person has children, the impact is even greater.

Children raised by parents with substance use disorders are often not taught basic life skills other children their age learn and often experience trauma related to the substance use and its consequences.

In an effort to help individuals whose lives are affected the most by substance use disorders, Taney County Treatment Court, commonly called drug court, assesses each participant, providing an individual treatment plan that focuses on the specific needs of that person.

Judge Eric Eighmy has presided over the Taney County Treatment Court for the past two-and-a-half years of the treatment court’s 21 year history. He’s seen the success of Stone and Taney counties’ treatment court systems, crediting Stone County Treatment Court Judge, Alan Blankenship, for being one of the best treatment court judges in the state. When Eighmy was offered the position, he humbly accepted, wanting to continue the success of his predecessor while reducing recidivism rates in Taney County.

Sit in on a monthly drug court proceeding and it will quickly become apparent how much Eighmy cares for the participants.

He can be seen cheering them on, encouraging them, and even stepping away from the bench to shake the hand of participant Jamie Bain’s new spouse who joined the proceeding.

Treatment Court Probation Officer Kathy Jeter says participants’ families are encouraged to join drug court functions, including court dates. The program includes education and therapy for the families. She explained that substance use disorders affect the families and the recovery process should include them as well.

Serving with Eighmy are others who help address the specific needs of each participant. Included in this team is a prosecutor, assistant prosecutor, clerk, two treatment providers, a probation officer, the drug court coordinator, and a defense counsel to represent participants when a sanction is being imposed. Each team member has a specific role in the process, but when they all come together for court, they collectively become the participants’ cheerleaders.

Jacob Beall arrived to March’s drug court proceeding dressed in a suit, wanting to prove he’s serious about the program and taking control of his life. The month before he looked very different, having just experienced a reoccurrence of symptoms. He thought the team would have written him off, but when he showed up dressed in the suit, the entire courtroom cheered as he walked to the front.

Drug court participants are not dismissed from the program for drug use. Instead, the drug court team works with the participant to identify triggers and establish new healthy ways to deal with the situation.

Beall is grateful for the program.

“I would probably be dead without it,” he said.

In order for a person to recover, it is important to identify and change harmful thought patterns regarding behaviors typically associated with substance use disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) are part of the treatment program addressing these thought and behavior patterns.

Jordan Tracy, drug court participant, credits the program for helping him make better decisions. Tracy is soft spoken with a genuine smile that exhibits the joy he has achieving 21 weeks free of heroin use.

The drug court treatment plan consists of five phases. The process typically takes approximately 18 to 24 months. The phases build on one another. Each phase has a set number of mandatory substance free days, community service hours, and additional requirements in order to “phase up.”

Phasing up is a celebratory occasion. 

Bain is in Phase 2 of the program, with six months of recovery time.

“As long as you fight it, it will be hard,” she said.

Today, it is apparent that she isn’t fighting the program, but rather, she is fighting for recovery with her husband by her side.

Margot Cole is two months shy of her two-year recovery date.

The drug court program has taught her a lot about her substance use disorder. Cole also credits the collaboration with sober-living houses, such as Standing by the Door, for helping her learn new and healthy life skills. Cole stays busy, working multiple jobs, keeping up with classes, appointments, community service work, and meetings required by the drug court program. Even with her busy schedule, she is never too busy to help a fellow participant, offering the few spare minutes that she has for emotional support.

Taney County Treatment Court creates a community, a bond between participants, teaching them healthy relationship habits and life skills.

In addition to learning healthy relational skills, participants who have children are offered parenting classes.

The drug court team works with participants to teach parenting skills and ensuring the home is fit for the parent and children. The team also works with the family court regarding custody matters.

Participants are required to attend two recovery meetings of their choice each week. It can be a Bible study, a spiritual meeting, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Celebrate Recovery. During the pandemic, the meetings were held virtually, and the community is so strong that past graduates stayed connected to participants to encourage them through the difficult lockdown.

Once a participant has reached the final phase and completed all of the necessary requirements, the individual is eligible to graduate. Graduation is saved for the end of each drug court proceeding. Each team member stands to say a few words to the graduate. Family members are encouraged to join and speak. Graduates even invite the arresting officers, who gladly attends in full support of the changes the graduate has made.

Graduating does not exclude the graduate from future connections and resources. If a graduate needs to come back for MRT, they are encouraged to do so for no additional fees. They are invited to participate in court proceedings, meetings, and classes after graduation and are encouraged to continue with the social network and community the treatment court establishes.

Taney County Treatment Court works with people with the most intense substance use disorders who have been resistant to other treatment programs. This program uses a holistic approach, addressing every aspect of the participant’s life with evidence-based practices to change the lives of the participants, enhance the lives of their families, and reduce recidivism for the community.

The success is apparent in the numbers. Statewide, as of December 31, 2019, there were 22,221 graduates with approximately an 11% recidivism rate.

“Everybody impacts everybody,” said Jeter. “I love what I do. The joy comes from the participants’ success and them pouring into others.”

Drug Free Ozarks is part of the Stone & Taney Counties Substance Use Initiative, which is aimed at reducing and preventing substance use in Stone and Taney counties. It is a project of CoxHealth and funded through a Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant. To learn more about the Substance Use Initiative, visit drugfreeozarks.org or on Facebook at DrugFreeOzarks.

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Hollister has a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Little Free Library

Hollister has a place that encourages reading and helps build family bonds through the love of reading together. 

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting for the Little Free Library were originally scheduled for April 22, 2020, but due to COVID-19, it was canceled. While the Little Free Library has been open for more than a year, the ribbon-cutting celebration, sponsored by the Hollister Area Chamber of Commerce, took place on Tuesday, May 18 at the Chad Fuqua Memorial Park in Hollister. 

According to an email from Hollister R-V School District Communications Director Kim Connell, the Little Free Library is important for Hollister, because many families do not have funds to buy books or resources to get books. Another reason it is important is that families in Hollister may not have transportation to Taneyhills Library in Branson or the funds to purchase a library car.

“The Little Free Library was started after a discussion at a Parents as Teachers Community Advisory Committee meeting discussing the importance of early literacy and how access to books can be improved in our community,” said Lead Parent Educator for Hollister School Districts Parents as Teachers Traci Canote. 

Books create warm emotional bonds between adults and kids when they read books together. Books help kids develop basic language skills and profoundly expand their vocabulary, according to the email. 

According to the Little Free Library website, LFL is a nonprofit that builds community, inspires readers, and expands book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led little libraries. LFL’s goal is to address the growing literacy crisis around the world. 

Today in the United States, more than 30 million adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own, according to the website. 

According to the website, the LFL has done a lot to fight the literacy crisis around the world including:

More than 165 million books have been shared through registered Little Free Libraries, profoundly increasing book access for readers of all ages and backgrounds. Thousands of neighbors have connected for the first time, building stronger and friendlier communities. The Impact Library Program, which began in 2016, has provided more than 1,000 Little Free Libraries at no cost to communities where they’re needed most. 

 The Native American Initiative has provided little libraries full of books to native communities in partnership with tribal leaders and organizations. The Action Book Club, which launched in 2017, has inspired thousands of participants to read books, spread kindness, and work together to improve their communities. The LFL has been awarded Guidestar’s respected Platinum Seal of Transparency, as well as recognition from the Library of Congress, the National Book Foundation, Library Journal, the Women’s National Book Association, and more. The Hollister LFL is located at the Chad Fuqua Memorial Park next to city hall, according to the email. “The location of Chad Fuqua Memorial Park was decided upon due to its proximity to downtown residents,” said Canote. “We wanted a central location that is accessible to families regardless of transportation.”

According to the website, LFL are book-sharing boxes that play an essential role by providing access to books and encouraging a love of reading in areas where books are scarce. At the Little Free Library nonprofit, they work to fill book deserts and grant libraries to underserved communities through our Impact Library Program and other initiatives.

In Hollister, the idea of a book-sharing library makes it easy for people to not only get books to read but to donate to the LFL as well, according to Canote. “Anyone can donate books. When an individual visits the library they are invited to take a book, leave a book, or both,” said Canote. “Our Little Free Library was created with young children (in) mind, however, the donated books have expanded to include books for all ages.” The benefit of the Hollister LFL has already been felt by the community, according to Canote.

“The benefits of having books available to a community is huge,” said Canote. “Our primary goal is that children will enjoy books with their parents and grow to love reading. We know that an early love of reading promotes success in school which is one of our program goals.”

For more information visit littlefreelibrary.org/.

Western Taney County volunteer firefighter creates non-profit organization for families of fallen first responders

BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) – Cory Roebuck, a volunteer firefighter with the Western Taney County Fire Protection District, is helping the families of first responders killed in the line of duty.

A ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday at the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce launched the Taney County 100 Club. Roebuck said he nearly died eight years ago when he was left hanging from a tree while responding to flash flooding. While waiting to be rescued, he said he started thinking about what would his family do if he didn’t make it.

“When I was clinging to a tree in the middle of the night all I could think about was my family, who’s going to tell my wife, who’s going to raise my family?,” Cory Roebuck said.

He said from that point on it was so important to him that his family have a plan of action if a tragedy ever occurred.

”Not only for my family, but now for my brothers and sisters that are there every day sacrificing for our community and able to maintain their house and their livelihood in the event they should be catastrophically injured or killed,” Roebucks said.

Roebuck said the idea behind the 100 Club started in 1952 after a Detroit police officer was killed in the line of duty. He wanted to bring that same organization to Taney County after his near death experience.

”It was a local business person that felt compelled to mail a letter to 100 of their business friends and ask for funds, funds that would help the widow out,” Roebuck said.

He said in 1953 the group expanded and asked for $100 each year from members of the community so funds could be ready in a moments notice for the family of a fallen first responder.

”Sometimes as a first responder that is the wage earner and when they pass so do the funds,” Roebuck said.

Roxanne Amundsen whose husband was in law enforcement, said she thinks this organization can greatly impact families of first responders.

“My husband was a deputy here and also in emergency services for 20 years in Taney County and I can really relate to what that does to the wife and to the family,” Roxanne Amundsen said.

Amundsen said she never knew if her husband was going to make it back home when he left for work, so having an organization willing to help if tragedy strikes is reassuring.

”I look at every one of these first responders that are here today and think I would love to connect with their families and their wives and their children and say I know what you’re going through,” Amundsen said.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

Copyright 2021 KY3. All rights reserved.

LEGACY ACADEMY RAISES $50,000 IN FUNDRAISER

Branson, MO — Legacy Academy, a classical Christian education school, raised $50,000 in a BINGO fundraiser to help families provide uniforms in the 2021- 2022 school year and to create a uniform scholarship fund. Using BINGO cards, participants earned money by performing curriculum-related tasks assigned a dollar amount. The fundraising effort was completed by the children attending Legacy Academy, their friends and families, and support from area businesses.

Dr. Tim Taylor, Secretary of the Board of Education and Headmaster at Legacy Academy, explained that a classical Christian education is rigorous and requires a concentrated focus on academics. To maintain this focus and limit distractions, Legacy decided to implement a uniform policy. “We are very serious about partnering with parents, and we didn’t want the financial burden of providing uniforms to be an obstacle for families,” Taylor said.

According to Taylor, the goal was to raise money to help parents purchase uniforms and to establish a scholarship fund to help future parents with financial needs. “We accomplished just that!” Taylor added.

The administration of Legacy Academy reached out to parents interested in forming a Uniform Fundraising Committee, and the response was overwhelming. “We are thrilled with the incredible success of this fundraiser. It really demonstrates the love and support our parents have for the school, and the community we have together” Kathryn Jones, Director at Legacy Academy said.

Jones continued to highlight the successful fundraiser:

  • A total of $50,000 was raised.
  • There was a 91% participation rate in the school.
  • 49 out of the 58 children who participated have their uniforms paid for.
  • A healthy scholarship fund was also created for families that need financial assistance to cover uniforms in the future.

“Thank you to everyone who has helped support our school as we work diligently to train Godly young men and women who will grow to lead and serve in our community. I am honored to be a part of the Legacy team,” Jones added.

Kristy Farris, Fundraiser Committee Chair, elaborated on the success of the school and community raising over $50,000 in 14 days. “I think we can all agree that God’s hands were all over this fundraiser. We are immensely grateful for all that Legacy represents as a growing, classical Christian school in our community!” Farris said.

Farris added that the fundraising committee was grateful to the business donations that helped this fundraiser as well. “What a fantastic area we live in, where Faith, Family, and Freedom, are truly lived every day! Thank you, Stonebridge Resort, Oakley Auto World, and Hogan Land Title, for your generous monetary support and for helping us #buildaLegacy!” she said. “A huge thank you also to these businesses that donated time, services, and products to our school: Branson Limousine & Executive Charter, The Track Family Fun Parks, Andy’s Frozen Custard, Reza Edge of Illusion Magic Show, Chick-fil-a Branson, Fritz’s Adventure, and Cakes n Cream 50’s Diner.”

On Friday, April 23, the entire school celebrated the success of the fundraiser with an assembly. The BINGO-themed fundraiser included unique incentives for the students as they continued their learning and raised funds for the school. Some of those incentives included getting to take their shoes off in class, silly stringing Dr. Taylor, and pieing their coaches.

Legacy Academy will add fifth grade next year (2021-2022) with a maximum class size of 18. There are openings available in Second, Third, and Fourth Grade. For more information on a classical Christian education, please email office@legacybranson.com, call 417-336-2139, or visit legacybranson.com.

About Legacy Academy

Legacy Academy is a private, classical Christian school in Branson, MO. In the spring of 2016, a small group of parents approached FBC Branson Pastor Neil Franks with the idea of starting a private Christian school.  Over the next several months, numerous conversations led to the birth of Legacy Christian Academy during the 2016-17 school year.  Legacy started at the First Baptist Church of Branson with a kindergarten class comprised of 6 students.  Having added one grade per year, today Legacy has 64 students in grades K-4.  The Legacy Board of Education is committed to the continued expansion of Legacy through grade 12.  Looking toward the future, our current fifth-grade class will be seniors during the 2028-29 school year, and the first graduation will take place in May 2029. 

“Legacy Academy exists to develop mature Christ-followers to be poured out as salt and light onto the world. Through academic excellence rooted in the classical model, we strive to partner with parents to provide a Christ-centered education, dedicated to shaping students’ affections toward that which is true, good, and beautiful.”

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Galena putting heart rate monitors to work in and out of the classroom – Devices funded by Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grant

When Galena School Nurse Julie Hagler requested a $4,000 Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant to purchase heart rate monitors in February 2020, she wanted to give students a tool to help self-regulate behavior.

Hagler was awarded the grant but the COVID-19 pandemic had already hit, causing teachers across the nation to take on double duty.

“Teachers are so overwhelmed with teaching seated and virtual students that finding the time for them to be trained on the curriculum (for the heart rate monitors) has been a challenge,” Hagler said.

In the meantime, Hagler has found another way to get familiar with the monitors and put them to use.

Galena’s track and cross country teams have been using the IHT Spirit Monitor System this spring. The heart rate monitors and software helps students track their progress, see when they can push themselves harder and even improve breathing techniques.

“I was able to take it to my doctor to figure out how I could make my breathing better,” said runner Maci Doak, a sophomore at Galena High School. “It helps me with my endurance and my speed and I can get more air in so I don’t tire so easily.”

“As a team, we’ve had some really good discussions about our heart rate and where it is at,” said track and cross country coach Shawna Sartin, who also is Galena’s director of special services.

Sartin said trialing the devices on older students has been great, but she is excited to see the monitors put into use in the regular classroom.

“Students identified by their teacher will participate in a series of introductory meetings to learn about the heart rate monitors and then be taught techniques to control emotions when they see their heart rate is elevated,” explained Hagler. “Students are very tech savvy and the monitors give an alert screen in green, yellow or red to indicate heart rate.”

The devices will help students recognize how their body feels when they are under stress. When they see they are under stress, they’ll be equipped to know techniques to self-regulate their emotions before their emotions get out of control, disrupting their learning and potentially the entire classroom.

“Students will start to be able to know what it feels like when their heart rate goes up and then know what they can do to control those emotions,” Sartin said.

At the end of each day, students will return the devices to a docking station. Data from the day is then uploaded and a report is sent to both the teacher and parents. 

The report will help parents and teachers start to see patterns and recognize potential triggers.

“We want to give students the tools they need to help self-regulate behavior without having to be removed from the classroom,” Hagler said. “Keeping students in the classroom, learning and teaching them these self-regulation techniques will benefit them not just now, but throughout their lifetime.”

Hagler said they plan to begin using the heart rate monitors in the regular classroom during the upcoming summer school session.

To learn more about Skaggs Legacy Endowment and grant opportunities, visit SkaggsFoundation.org.

Tomorrow’s Branson Focuses on Jobs for Students, Young Adults

April 23, 2021

A new initiative has been created by the Taney County Partnership called Tomorrow’s Branson, which aims to place local employment opportunities for students and young adults in one convenient place. Tomorrow’s Branson features a directory of local job openings that is updated regularly with employment opportunities that are specifically geared toward high school and college students and young adults. The directory can be accessed by following the link on the Facebook page for Tomorrow’s Branson at facebook.com/tomorrowsbranson.

Junior Auxiliary Of Taney County Helps Teach Kindness

The year 2020 brought about many changes. Groceries were curbside-delivered, kitchens transformed into classrooms, and social gatherings became a distant past. Like most other aspects of our lives, Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) had to change the way we served the community in a time when, more than ever, public programs were needed. Very early on in the pandemic schools were closed and nursing homes/assisted living facilities were locked down. The goal was to protect the most vulnerable of the populations – but at what cost? Children who typically engaged in out-of-school activities were no longer provided opportunities to learn social skills and emotional development. As for the elderly, this shutdown often led to feelings of loneliness and depression.

 It was there that JATC saw a need and the Kindness Effect Card Project was born. The goal of this project was to spread kindness and joy the COVID-friendly way. After contacting local nursing homes/assisted living facilities, we found that, although visitors were not allowed, deliveries and mail were. It was our hope that greeting cards would serve as a way to bring joy to these individuals.

 In addition to positively affecting the seniors’ lives, the objective of this project is to help teach the message of kindness to children. Research has shown that kindness as a community goal is needed, that it can be strengthened though use, and it is beneficial to the population. The more one is kind and demonstrates acts of kindness, the happier one is, the more anxiety and depression is reduced, and the better the world. Engaging in activities like card-writing is a way for children to focus on others, teach empathy, and to help better cope with the personal impacts of COVID19 – not to mention practicing handwriting, spelling, and the art of written communication.

 For this project, JATC members collected blank greeting cards and facilitated writing sessions with small groups of children. Local churches and elementary schools participated with children as young as three years old decorating greeting cards, College of the Ozarks students drafted letters in their free time, high school seniors started a “Card Club,” and families exercised their creativity together. These cards included hand drawn pictures, messages of love and hope, personal stories, puzzles, and even a joke or two. The cards were then quarantined, sanitized, and eventually made their way into the hands of the residents. In 2020, we were able to complete two deliveries. Residents were overjoyed when they opened their letters and ask when they can expect another delivery. For some folks, this is the only mail they ever receive. 

 JATC is continuing the Kindness Effect Card Project and hopes to make four card deliveries in 2021. There are a number of different ways that community members can get involved. If you would like to help with this project, we are currently accepting donations of greeting cards (with envelopes). These cards can be blank or contain a short, sweet, pre-printed message. We are also accepting Christmas/Season’s Greeting cards. Cash donations to help purchase cards are also welcomed. For more information on this project and how you can get involved, please contact Junior Auxiliary of Taney County at jatcmo@gmail.com and use “KECP Donation” on the Subject Line.

Kindness Effect Cards Project is one of many service projects that JATC members provide for the community. Other JATC projects include School Supplies Replenishment which includes Gift Cards for teachers, as well as a plethora of supplies; Tender Critters for children in trauma; Prom Dresses for girls in need; financial and labor support for the Crisis Center including birthday parties and child care for the children so moms can attend counseling sessions; Santa’s Gift House which allows children to do their own shopping for Christmas; Book Swap for children who live in extended-stay motels; and Scholarships for each of the four high schools in Taney County.

 JATC is more than a nonprofit organization, it’s a group of women united by a single cause. We are dedicated to helping and making a difference in the lives of the children of Taney County. That’s the magic of JATC. It was chartered by a group of caring, enthusiastic women in 1998 and continues to grow and thrive throughout Taney County.  Approximately 50 members annually contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours as they strive to improve the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of children in Taney County.

 JATC is part of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA), a non-profit organization founded in 1941 with headquarters in Greenville, Mississippi.  NAJA has more than 15,500 active, associate and life members in 98 chapters located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Their slogan is “Caring Hearts—Helping Hands—Changing Lives”.

Published by TriLakes News Saturday, February 13. Live Interview on KOLR 10 TV on Wednesday, February 3

‘It’s been a game changer’ Branson takes proactive approach in student mental health

School districts are doing more for students and families these days than ever and Branson is no exception.

In 2018, Branson School District received a two-year, $86,000 grant to expand mental health services for students. The Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant allowed the district to add a part-time case manager and gave the district funds to provide professional mental health counseling services to students who otherwise could not afford these vital services.

Since that time, the program has evolved. The district’s current grant from Skaggs Foundation continues to fund the part-time case manager and a separate Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant, this one to Burrell Behavioral Health, funds counseling sessions for any uninsured or underinsured student in Stone or Taney counties, include Branson students.

“It’s been a game changer,” said Lisa Furtkamp, who splits her time as the part-time case manager and social worker for the district. “The amount of self-harm and suicidal ideations has increased so much in just the past five years. This grant gives us a chance to get these kids the help they need.”

DeAnna Sheets, director of curriculum, assessment and federal programs, said today, more than 7 percent of Branson students are receiving some form of school based mental health service and more students are being referred for counseling each week.   

That’s where Furtkamp comes in; she works with parents to see that necessary paperwork gets filled out, helping to expedite services for students. She even goes as far as meeting the parents to pick up paperwork or arrange rides for the families for in-person intakes.

For children who do not qualify for Medicaid, do not have private insurance or are underinsured, Skaggs Foundation’s grant to Burrell Behavioral Health fills in that gap. The grant provides a funding source for services for those students, ensuring no student is denied services due to the inability to pay.

“With Lisa’s work and these grants, we are removing barriers so students can receive necessary services,” Sheets said.

In 2020, Skaggs Foundation awarded 25 Skaggs Legacy Endowment grants, including the mental health grants to Branson School District and Burrell Behavioral Health.

Since 2013, the foundation has awarded more than $5.9 million in grants to organizations improving health and wellness in Stone and Taney counties. Skaggs Foundation is accepting grant applications and letters of intent now through 5 p.m. April 30. Visit our grants page to learn more about opportunities available through Skaggs Legacy Endowment.

Over $85,000 in Power Up Grants awarded to local teachers

Contact: Cassie Cunningham, CCC – Manager of Communications & Member Engagement
Office: 417-335-9231; Cell 417-849-1148
Email: ccunningham@whiteriver.org

Branson, Missouri – The White River Valley Electric Trust Board proudly awarded over $85,000 to be
dispersed throughout local schools to enhance the education of area students. Teachers located at
schools within White River Valley Electric Cooperative’s five-county service were eligible to apply for
monies through Power Up — the organization’s annual educational grant program.
“Projects that utilize funding from Power Up have a positive impact on classrooms in our communities,”
said Nathan Stearns, WRVEC Community Programs Coordinator. “We are proud to offer a grant program
that aids teachers in providing a well-rounded education to area students.”
To be considered, proposals need to promote higher learning and meet school standards. Teachers are
required to submit their plan, itemized list of supplies (not to exceed $750), and a letter of project
approval from the school district’s administrative office. Out of 184 applications, 135 were approved.
“This was our most competitive year to date,” said Stearns. “We would like to congratulate the winners
and hope that increased competition will drive innovation and student influence.”
Power Up educational grants are funded through Operation Round Up – the Trust’s primary funding
source for community-centric aid. Funds come from cooperative members who allow their bills to be
rounded-up to the next dollar. Since ORU began 28 years ago, more than $4 million has been returned
to the community.
View the full list of Power Up educational grant recipients at
https://www.whiteriver.org/community/operation-round-up/power-up/

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White River Valley Electric Cooperative is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative dedicated to ensuring our members receive safe and reliable service in their homes and businesses across five southwest Missouri counties including Ozark, Taney, Stone,
Christian and Douglas.