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From left: John Lunardini, Maura Taylor, Cindy VanBuskirk and Cindi Kopel
McKenzie Robinson | SBJ
From left: John Lunardini, Maura Taylor, Cindy VanBuskirk and Cindi Kopel

2021 Economic Impact Awards Charitable Nonprofit of the Year: Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri Inc.

Strength in Service

Posted online

Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri Inc.’s 39-county service area is substantial but so too is the need for its services.

Established in 2009 with just two employees, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit’s first budget was roughly $107,000. In fiscal 2021, it had grown to a staff of 95 among eight offices with a budget of $7.5 million. Its broad scope of services cover disaster recovery and construction, homeless prevention, a crisis maternity home and supportive services for veterans.

“It wasn’t until the Joplin tornado occurred in 2011 when the agency began its growth spurt,” says Executive Director Maura Taylor. “We started first with doing disaster operations which included case management and home repair and rebuilding, volunteer coordination, donation management, etc.”

While the agency’s programs often provide financial assistance, Taylor says Catholic Charities primarily focuses on helping clients achieve self-sufficiency and housing stability.

The nonprofit last year provided $1.53 million for rent, home repairs and rebuilds, utilities and miscellaneous expenses, with roughly $586,000 of that in the Springfield area.

Catholic Charities served roughly 3,500 clients last year, down 12% from 2019 – a total impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as officials say the public didn’t seek as many services until the summer. Still, Taylor says the staff  continued operations without interruption.

Part of that work in 2020 included reopening the former Rancho Motel on East Kearney Street in October as a temporary homeless shelter.

Catholic Charities has received shelter funding, including over $300,000 from Greene County, through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Taylor says plans are to keep the facility operating at least through this winter, noting it has served 37 households with on-site case managers working daily to help occupants find employment and permanent housing.

“We’ve been very successful in getting many of those families permanently housed,” she says. “But it’s a huge challenge in Springfield because even if we have money for rent and utility deposits, there just aren’t a lot of low-income rentals available.”

Taylor says the public was generous last year as donations for the nonprofit organization reached over $1.1 million, a 42% increase over 2019.

“We did receive a lot of donations and grant funding for some of our services,” she says.

“Some of it is tied to COVID. Some of it is just donors realizing the huge need and impact in the community we’re serving. We were blessed.”

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