Thursday, November 17, 2016


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Darin Preis, CCAP, MPA
Executive Director
Central Missouri Community Action
807 B North Providence
Columbia, MO 65203

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Staff Picnic 2010

As I drove to work this morning, the smell of rubber palm trees in my back seat prompted me to reflect on our staff picnic last Friday. More than 200 CMCA employees gathered at Cosmo Park in Columbia to enjoy the day, good food, and good company. While I expect there are always a few that would rather be in their office or Head Start center catching up, I think it is important to have this one day each year to just unwind. Our Transformation Plan says that "Staff members . . . are recognized as the Agency's most valuable resource" and that the "Agency culture is aligned with the agency's mission, vision, and values." One of the ways to honor these commitments is to take staff out of their stressful, often emotional, busy days and give them the opportunity to just have some fun. We played volleyball, limbo, tug-o'-war, cards, frisbee, and don't even get me started on the egg toss (where I was pummeled by a dozen eggs from a handful of "fun-loving" deviants that will pay dearly when the time is right). We also gave out some donated prizes and honored several staff for their service and commitment. Employees across the agency nominated peers for the Starfish Thrower Awards to recognize colleagues who regularly go above and beyond their job description for the sake of those we serve and each other. From those, the Leadership Team selected the following for the 2010 Starfish Thrower Awards: "Team Awesome" (Andy Prevo and Chris Gunther), Brooke Smith, Administrative Services Coordinator, Andrea Langton, Callaway County Family Advocate, Shere Bruner, Cole East Head Start Site Assistant, and Brenda Jenkins, Cook Assistant and Custodian at Cole West. Thanks to these individuals for their stellar commitment. We also recognized 'Smilin' Bob Green for recently being selected as the National Support Staff of the Year by the National Head Start Association. What an honor to have a national award winner as part of the CMCA family!

We also recognized the following staff for benchmark years of service that they will complete during the 2010 fiscal year. Their years of service add up to a significant commitment to the work we do at CMCA.

5 Years of Service = Vickey Rathburn, Colita Harvey, Brooke Eskridge, Angela Hirsch, Brandy Tallman, Chris Macy, Jessica Cook, Tawnya Pace, Liz Jungmeyer, Jackie Cornell, Lesley Fannin, Darin Preis, Bryon White, and Kathleen Saleh.

10 Years of Service = Melissa Chambers, Lisa Cumins, Donisha Nevins, and Julie Kratzer.

15 Years of Service = Brenda Rose

20 Years of Service = David Gregory, Tori Schlemmer-Sims, and Pat Lockwood.

35 Years of Service = Suzie Williams-Bragg

Keep an eye out for pictures from this awesome event.

Friday, April 9, 2010

U.S. Census

Mayor of Columbia, Darwin Hindman released the following statement yesterday regarding the U.S. Census:

"As Columbia’s Mayor, I want to remind all Columbia citizens of the importance of filing out their Census forms and sending them in. This simple act of citizenship takes only a few minutes, will help guide decisions over the next ten years and will affect millions in federal funds allocated to this community. As of 10 a.m. today, Columbia’s overall response rate was 66 percent. Frankly, that’s not good enough. The city’s goal is 100% participation, and we can’t get there unless each household takes action."

It was a good reminder for me to send out the following message to CMCA staff:

As you all know, CMCA is a partner with the U.S. Census to complete this year’s count. Many of you have seen Census employees working in our facilities as we are official Questionnaire Assistance Centers. The Census is critical to our agency’s and our funders’ ability to plan for the next decade. An accurate count shows where we’re growing, declining, and changing. This information means a lot for us, our schools, our businesses, and public work. Please be sure to complete and return YOUR survey and encourage your friends, family, neighbors and clients to also complete their Census survey. It’s short, simple, and confidential and I hope you’ll give it a few minutes of your attention if you haven’t already.

For those of you who have already completed and returned your survey, THANKS! Now you can help spread the word about how easy it is. :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Another week gone

Every time someone tells me they read my blog I'm overcome with guilt about being so negligent with it. I spent some time in Cooper and Howard Counties the other day and now I'm awash in guilt. So here I am.

This week has been busy with VITA (Volunteer In Tax Assistance) kickoff proclamations. All counties but Cooper County hosted these proclamation events (Cooper County got snowed out today!). Board members and County Commissioners read the proclamations and highlighted the importance of this project. In partnership with the University of Missouri, CMCA offers free tax assistance to the public. Obviously our primary interest is in getting preparation assistance to those who can least afford to give up a portion of their return but the service is free to all who qualify (roughly income up to $49,000). Many CMCA participants access Earned Income Tax Credits, Child Care credits, property tax credits, and other credits they have every right to but might not otherwise access without someone walking them through the process. Some tax preparation businesses take advantage of this knowledge by overcharging customers (in my opinion) and adding fees for quick refunds. Again, CMCA offers this service for free and it brings a great deal of cash back to our communities. Regardless of how people use their credit/refund, the economic multiplier effect kicks in as their dollar purchases services or products that in turn fund the providers and manufacturers of those products and services. So this fits in well with our Strategic Commitment to "Build community capacity to enhance economic and community assets." We're helping to put cash in the pockets of those in need AND we're supporting economic security for our community. Remember too that the EITC is for those who worked in 2009. They earned this credit and it is a privilege to help them access it.

After attending one of these VITA events I had the pleasure of visiting the Clubhouse Head Start center in Boonville. They documented the event on their Facebook page!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stand up for yourself and be counted - 2010 Census

On a 2010 Census marketing ad I just watched, a representative from the NAACP said "stand up for yourself" and be counted in the 2010 Census. I thought this was a good way to characterize an extremely important event that many people across the country probably don't think is that big of a deal, or worse, fear big brother-ish motivations by our government to find out who we are. I attended the local Census 2010 press briefing yesterday and was impressed by the array of community leaders adamantly encouraging everybody to complete a Census survey and to encourage others to do the same. The United States Census 2010 is important to CMCA for a variety of reasons. First, it is this official count that is used as the key variable in a wide array of funding decisions for federal tax revenue. In fact, they tell me that $400 BILLION dollars worth of funding decisions are at least in part determined with census data. That's a big deal. But there's more. In our efforts to engage the community and address the issues of poverty and economic stability, we need to be able to paint an accurate picture of our community. Where's the growth? What are the trends? What does our community look like? The Census helps to frame the picture and then CMCA and other organizations add context. Lastly, at the press conference the regional director of the Census pointed out that this is the largest deployment of non-military federal employees in HISTORY. In other words, they're hiring a LOT of people. Most of these will be temporary jobs but they pay pretty well, are very flexible, and might help create a cleaner, more impressive work history for someone to take with them to their next interview. Go to to find out more, or to apply, or to get information to someone that might be able to use it.

CMCA will host approximately eight Questionnaire Assistance Centers in our facilities throughout our eight county service area. Census 2010 will place their new employees at these locations to help our clients complete the survey or to answer any questions people have. Further, we'll have "Be Counted" boxes in all of our facilities for clients or staff to submit their completed surveys. This is a great opportunity for CMCA to help out with an important national initiative and I'm proud to do so.

For anybody concerned about the intrusiveness of this survey or are uncomfortable sharing personal information, check out the survey online at the Census website. It's pretty safe. The whole Census 2010 website is pretty handy. It can answer pretty much any question you might have about the census and includes interesting ongoing commentary like the Director's Blog. You'll even get tidbits of useless facts. Did you know the first U.S. Census was conducted in 1790?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Caring agency

As part of my subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) way of "developing an innovative, caring agency dedicated to being an influential leader in our communities" (Strategic Commitment 5) I make a point of variably harping on smokers to quit smoking and doing the best I can to support and encourage people who are trying or have ever had an inkling of trying. I'd like to make some partial claim to about four people at CMCA who have quit since I've been here. The most recent are always the most exciting but I was just notified that one of our long time employees, a die hard smoker mind you; the kind that has a bumper sticker that says "at least I can still smoke in my car," is about to celebrate her one year anniversary from smoking. I'm really excited for her and hope that it makes a difference in her life for her health and her checkbook. Another employee just got taken to lunch by a naysayer who bet that she couldn't quit for a year. I'm proud of all of our quitters and will continue to support those that have tried or might consider it. It took me many attempts before I was able to kick the habit back in 2000, and honestly I still stumble from time to time, but I feel so good about myself and protecting my family that I can't help but promote the effort. Cheers to all who have quit and for anybody that's trying, and for those that will succeed in 2010.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CMCA celebrates success

If you haven't seen our rotating story about Charita Henderson, check it out now! Charita was CMCA's Head Start Parent of the Year then moved on to be Missouri's parent of the year and the Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska) parent of the year. A couple of weeks ago she found out she is the 1st runner up national parent of the year. She has been heavily involved in the CMCA Head Start program and we are all so proud of her accomplishments and thankful for what she has brought to CMCA. Head Start and all of our programs have great success stories about individuals and families that have overcome barriers to achieve self-reliance and Charita is a great representative of all of those successes.