The annual Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grant awards event looked much different this year and many of the projects funded by these grants are adjusting to a “new normal,” but one thing remains the same – a commitment to helping the people of Stone and Taney counties.

This week, Skaggs Foundation awarded 25 grants totaling more than $589,000 to organizations working to improve health and wellness in Stone and Taney counties. These projects are estimated to impact 34,864 lives over the next 12 months.

“Things look a lot different this year but we continue to be inspired by the great work these organizations are doing, their compassion for our community and their dedication to find new ways to help people in need,” said Nita Jane Ayres, chairwoman of Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grants Committee. “In a year full of challenges, these organizations are stepping up, identifying vital needs and finding ways to meet those needs.”

Among the 25 grants awarded several focus on mental health.

Branson Police Department was awarded a two-year, $20,000 grant to launch a Regional Peer Support Team to help first responders process personal issues and struggles associated with the traumatic events they respond to and manage throughout their careers. This grant will help address mental health needs for first responders in both Stone and Taney counties and supports a great partnership between local police, fire and emergency medical services. 

Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews said he’s grateful for his department to be a 2020 Skaggs Legacy Endowment grantee.

“Our first responders often experience high trauma and crisis situations when they help our citizens in need,” Matthews said. “We don’t think about the effects this kind of repeated trauma can have on our emergency personnel. This Regional Peer Support Team is a vital resource to those on the front lines who need help managing a past emergency response or a stressful incident. This is truly a blessing for all first responders in Taney and Stone Counties including police, sheriffs, fire, and EMS.”

“We are honored to be able to provide funds to this and many other organizations serving as the hands and feet making a difference in our community,” Ayres said.

Grant awards by category: Access to Care: Faith Community Health – FaithCare Community Partnership to Provide Healthcare Services for Uninsured Employees; Cox College – Recruiting Nurses to Branson through Scholarships 2021; Cox Medical Center Branson – Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Scholarships; SeniorAge – Rides for Seniors; Cox Medical Center Branson – Transportation Fund; Hollister School District – Enhancing Vision Test Results for Infants through 12th Grade; Child and Family Safety: Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks – Summer Enrichment Scholarships; Branson School District – Branson High School Cents of Pride; Gift of Hope, Inc. – Cents of Pride Store; Dental Health: Fordland Clinic, Inc. – School Based Dental Services; Children’s Smile Center – Supplies for Hygiene Visits; Healthy Lifestyles: Branson Hollister Senior Center – Sunny Side; Galena Abesville Elementary School – Bear Focus; Boy Scouts of America – New Member Assistance for Individuals and At-Risk Youth; Forsyth School District – Parents As Teachers; Taneyville School District – Parents As Teachers; Mental Health: Branson School District – Mental Health and Wellness; Cox Medical Center Branson – Healthier Mothers, Healthier Babies; Burrell Behavioral Health – Sources of Strength Suicide Prevention; Branson Police Department – Regional Peer Support Program; Faith Community Health – Mental Health Counseling; Elevate Branson – Elevate Kids Sensory Programming Needs; Substance Use: Cox Medical Center Branson – Substance Use Initiative; 39th Circuit Treatment Courts – Stone County Treatment Courts; and Cox Medical Center Branson – Tobacco Cessation.

Skaggs Legacy Endowment is a restricted endowment fund made possible by a generous gift from CoxHealth in 2013. Since that time, Skaggs Foundation has awarded more than $5.9 million to organizations dedicated to improving lives in our community.

Following is a brief description of each grant recipient with project details:

Substance Use Initiative 

$129,553.31 Cox Medical Center Branson 

The Substance Use Initiative is developing a community-driven model to address youth and adult substance use and misuse and evidence-based prevention, intervention and treatment in Stone and Taney counties. The initiative expands community capacity by increasing collaboration and strengthening existing resources.

 

FaithCare: Community Partnership to Provide Healthcare Services for Uninsured Employees

$60,000 Faith Community Health

FaithCare membership-based healthcare services provide affordable healthcare for uninsured employees in Stone and Taney counties, fulfilling Faith Community Health’s mission to make affordable healthcare accessible to the underserved in our community. FaithCare enables employers to attract and retain qualified employees with a valuable healthcare benefit. This is a matching grant. 

 

Recruiting Nurses to Branson through Scholarships 2021

$59,004 CoxHealth Foundation on behalf of Cox College 

CoxHealth Foundation will address local nursing shortages by providing four full, one-year scholarships to senior nursing students enrolled in Cox College. In return, students will commit to securing employment for two years with an approved healthcare organization in Stone or Taney counties within 90 days of graduation. 

 

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Scholarships 

$52,500 Cox Medical Center Branson 

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Assistance will provide financial assistance to patients at Cox Medical Center Branson who have experienced a qualifying heart or lung diagnosis or event and require cardiovascular pulmonary rehabilitation sessions. Cardiopulmonary rehab has been proven to greatly improve a patient’s chances to recover and live fuller, healthier lives by managing chronic conditions more effectively. 

 

School Based Dental Services 

$50,000 Fordland Clinic, Inc.

School-based dental services for Blue Eye and Reeds Spring school districts will be provided to 1,200 students. These dental services target children who are not seeing a dentist or who are uninsured. The program includes dental exams, sealants and fluoride treatments, cleanings, education and recommendations for restorative services. Services will be offered to all students.

 

Mental Health and Wellness 

$39,512 Branson School District 

This grant will continue to fund a part-time mental health case manager. During the 2019-2020 school year, the mental health case manager followed up with 412 students and their mental health services, completed eight home visits, and provided transportation assistance to more than 20 families. In addition, the case manager also worked with 98 families to help them qualify for Medicaid and made contact with 99 families to discuss the benefits of mental health services for their student.

 

Healthier Mothers, Healthier Babies 

$39,138.88 Cox Medical Center Branson 

Healthier Mothers, Healthier Babies works to decrease substance use disorder and perinatal and postpartum depression among pregnant and newly parenting women served by Cox Medical Center Branson to provide improved health outcomes for baby and mother. Since June 2018, Cox Branson staff have screened more than 840 obstetric patients and 27% tested positive for perinatal or postpartum depression – that’s nearly double the national average. 

 

Stone County Treatment Courts 

$30,000 Stone County Judiciary

Stone County Treatment Courts will assist participants with needed dental care and safe and sober temporary housing. They are working to improve the lives of individuals by providing continuum of care and reinforcing pathways for change through treatment and accountability while bolstering a holistic approach to the recovery process. 

 

Sources of Strength Suicide Prevention

$24,210 Burrell, Inc.

Burrell will partner with a Stone or Taney county school to implement Sources of Strength, a comprehensive program that focuses on suicide prevention for youth that impacts social issues. The mission of Sources of Strength is to prevent suicide by increasing help seeking behaviors and promoting connections between peers and caring adults. 

 

Regional Peer Support Program 

$20,000 Branson Police Department

Branson Police Department will launch a Regional Peer Support Team to assist first responders process personal issues and struggles associated with the many traumatic events they respond to and manage through their careers. The Regional Peer Support Team will address mental health needs of first responders in Taney and Stone counties. 

 

Tobacco Cessation Program

$11,940.61 Cox Medical Center Branson

Cox Medical Center Branson’s Tobacco Cessation Program will continue to provide Nicotine Replacement Therapy to uninsured and underinsured individuals to help individuals successfully quit tobacco use. In addition to purchasing Nicotine Replacement Therapy, this grant will also fund three carbon monoxide monitors. Two monitors will be placed at the Branson Pulmonary Clinic and a third will be used at CoxHealth Family Medicine and Obstetrics Clinic. These monitors are the most cost effective and accurate way to measure the amount of CO in a person’s system in the previous 24 hours. This encourages individuals to be truthful and it serves as a motivator to quit. 

 

Mental Health Counseling 

$10,000 Faith Community Health 

Faith Community Health is expanding mental health services to reach more vulnerable patients whose care has been unstable due to inadequate funding. The majority of Faith Community Health’s patients are not eligible for Medicaid or Health Insurance Marketplace plans. Most cannot afford health insurance even when it is available through an employer. More than 42% of Americans cite cost and poor insurance coverage as top barriers to accessing mental health care. Those with mental health issues are more susceptible to chronic diseases such as cardiac conditions and diabetes. 

 

Rides for Seniors

$10,000 SeniorAge

Rides for Seniors will provide seniors in Stone and Taney counties with reliable transportation to medical appointments, pharmacy pick-ups and groceries. Many seniors are unable to drive due to varying aging issues including loss of eyesight, reaction time, and coordination. While these issues hinder safe driving, seniors are often still able to live independently. Providing safe transportation will allow seniors to continue living independently longer and ensure they are still able to access vital medical appointments and the supplies they need. 

 

Transportation Fund 

$8,250 Cox Medical Center Branson 

Cox Medical Center Branson will provide transportation assistance to patients in Stone and Taney counties to increase access to care and decrease the likelihood of readmissions, medical complications and/or death, while increasing the health and well-being of the individual and community. In Stone and Taney counties, transportation is often a barrier to accessing healthcare, especially with no affordable public transportation system available.  

 

Summer Enrichment Scholarships

$5,000 Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks 

This grant will allow families facing financial hardship to access to high-quality summer programs at the Boys and Girls Club. While school is out for the summer, this will give children living in poverty a safe place to go for healthy meals, academic assistance, fun, and social interaction. More than 69% of Taney County students qualify for free or reduced lunch at school. 

 

Sunny Side

$5,000 Branson Hollister Senior Center 

Sunny Side will continue the ongoing wellness initiative to improve health and prolong independence for Taney County seniors. Branson Hollister Senior Center offers daily exercise classes. Classes are full and seniors increasingly report that they are seeing the “sunny side” of life, and are feeling better physically, mentally and emotionally. During the pandemic, classes have moved online. These funds will allow this classes to continue. 

 

Branson High School Cents of Pride Store

$5,000 Branson School District

The Branson High School Cents of Pride Store opened in December 2014 and is in its sixth year of meeting student needs. The store provides students with clothing, food, personal hygiene products and other essentials students need but don’t have the means to purchase. The store offers students a unique opportunity to obtain these essential items by earning “pride bucks” for displaying positive attitudes, good attendance and turning in class assignments on time. With the number of families that have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, this store is more relevant than ever to meet the needs of students. 

 

Cents of Pride Store 

$5,000 Gift of Hope, Inc.

Gift of Hope’s Cents of Pride Store is a unique program dedicated to fulfilling students’ needs, grades 5th-12th at Forsyth School District. The store, which uses a rewards system, is designed to reach older students who were going hungry on the weekend because they were too proud or embarrassed to accept the food distributed through Gift of Hope’s Backpack Club. In addition to making convenient-to-eat food available to take home, the Cents of Pride store also gives students access to health, hygiene, clothing and bedding items. While providing essentials to students, this program is helping students increase their self-confidence, pride and has shown to improve behavior and attendance. 

 

Enhancing Vision Test Results for Infants to 12th Grade

$5,000 Hollister School District

This grant will fund a mobile vision screener to identify six vision anomalies in students for early referral and prevention of future vision problems. Hollister’s two school nurses serve more than 1,450 students and this vision screener will allow the nurses to quickly and efficiently identify anomalies in all students who receive annual vision screenings as required by the states. The mobile vision screener is capable of identifying farsightedness, nearsightedness, blurred vision, unequal refractive power, unequal pupil size and eye misalignment. 

 

Supplies for Hygiene Visits

$4,995 Children’s Smile Center

Children’s Smile Center provides a permanent dental home for low-income children ages 1-19 years old and expectant mothers with Medicaid. This grant will fund supplies needed for dental hygiene visits for the Branson West clinic. In 2019, Children’s Smile Center served 936 children and pregnant women from Stone and Taney counties. Children’s Smile Center’s goal is to improve overall health and keep emergency dental visits from happening through preventative care at regular preventative care. This grant could impact an estimated 950 children and pregnant women. 

 

Bear Focus

$4,914 Galena Abesville Elementary School 

The Bear Focus grant will fund an IHT Spirit Monitoring System for Galena Abesville Elementary School. The IHT program will address social and emotional self-regulation needs of our students. Students identified by their teacher will participate in a series of introductory meetings to learn the process of heart rate monitors and recommended techniques to control emotions when they see their heart rate elevate. This monitor will let students know when his or her heart rate is elevated, giving a visual aid to how their bodies react to stress and then guides them through self-regulation techniques. The goal of this program is to give students the tools needed to help self-regulate behavior without having to be removed from class, keeping students learning and equipped with life-long skills.  

 

Elevate Kids Sensory Programming Needs

$3,924 Elevate Branson

At least 45-50 children each week come through the doors at Elevate Branson, many of which have autism or other sensory needs. These children have the opportunity to experience programming and sensory support in Elevate Branson’s sensory room. This room is utilized for sensory breaks after learning occurs. An estimated 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder and all children with autism and other behavioral issues need sensory time to help decompress and relax so additional learning may occur. This grant will allow Elevate Branson to add to the current items already in the sensory room, giving children additional hands-on experiences. 

 

New Member Assistance – Individuals and At-Risk Youth 

$3,500 Boy Scouts of America

The Ozarks Trail Council is a chartered organization of the Boy Scouts of America providing youth character development, values-based leadership training and helping prepare young people for life. This program will assist with registration fees, books, uniforms and camperships for youth and at-risk individuals joining and taking part in the scouting movement in Stone and Taney counties. 

 

Parents As Teachers

$1,500 Forsyth School District 

The Forsyth Parents As Teachers Educator and Forsyth School Nurse have recognized a need for increased health, safety and wellness education for elementary students and their families. The school nurse promotes health, safety, and wellness education on a daily basis through individual and classroom instruction. In addition, the PAT educator facilitates monthly PAT playgroups to families who have children younger than kindergarten entry age. During the 2020-2021 school year, they will work together to increase education on healthy eating, healthy hygiene/germ prevention, emergency preparedness, drug awareness/prescription medication safety, mental health and wellness, indoor exercise, dental health, first aid, outdoor exercise, and summer playground and water safety. This grant will help purchase specific resources to promote the topics in the classroom and the PAT playgroups. 

 

Parents As Teachers

$1,500 Taneyville School District 

The Taneyville Parents As Teachers Educator and Taneyville School Nurse have recognized a need for increased health, safety and wellness education for elementary students and their families. The school nurse promotes health, safety, and wellness education on a daily basis through individual and classroom instruction. In addition, the PAT educator facilitates monthly PAT playgroups to families who have children younger than kindergarten entry age. During the 2020-2021 school year, they will work together to increase education on healthy eating, healthy hygiene/germ prevention, emergency preparedness, drug awareness/prescription medication safety, mental health and wellness, indoor exercise, dental health, first aid, outdoor exercise, and summer playground and water safety. This grant will help purchase specific resources to promote the topics in the classroom and the PAT playgroups. 

 

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