Coover Grants Awarded to Fight Poverty Across the Region

A young girl who lost a front tooth in an accident could only have it replaced with a “flapper,” a temporary dental implant that she had to remove to play clarinet in the school band. Her family’s Medicaid coverage wouldn’t cover a new permanent tooth.

What would that do for that girl’s self-esteem, Robert Marsh asked rhetorically as he accepted the Fordland Clinic’s $9,200 grant awarded this week from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and Commerce Trust Company through the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Regional Grantmaking Program.

The Fordland Clinic was one of 14 recipients of this year’s Coover grants for efforts to fight regional poverty totaling $127,500.

One of the themes in this year’s applications was for dental assistance because Medicaid funding is very limited in that area.

“There are children losing teeth who didn’t have to lose them,” Marsh said.

The Ozarks Resource Group in Buffalo also received a $5,000 Coover grant for dental services focused on preventative hygiene and education.

“This program brings toothbrushing to the schools for some kids who have never had a toothbrush in their lives,” Cheryl Eversole said in accepting the group’s grant for its “Bright Smiles” dental program.

Other grant awards were made to programs focused on similar basic needs such as hunger and homelessness. Care to Learn chapters in Clever, Rogersville and Willard received funds for their young chapters’ efforts to supply weekend backpacks, shoes, clothing and hygiene items to students in their districts. Least of  These, a food pantry serving Christian County, also received a grant to partner with Care to Learn to serve areas of the county where chapters don’t exist. They’ll use the money for a “personal care initiative” that will provide hygiene products, toilet paper and other necessities not covered by food stamps.

The Kitchen, Inc., will use its $18,340 grant to extend its “One Door” homelessness prevention services into Christian County.

Christian County has seen an increase in homelessness during the economic downturn, particularly among families who have had to “double up” with other households and then find themselves out on the street, Coordinator Randy McCoy said.

“By tying it all together in a regional approach, kids don’t have to move school districts, so it’s less traumatic for them,” McCoy said.

CFO President Brian Fogle, who presented the grants with Commerce Trust Vice President Jill Reynolds, summed up the stories from the grant recipients as both heart-wrenching and uplifting.

“I hear these heart-wrenching stories you are telling and it can get one quite dejected,” Fogle said. “The other side of the coin is the great work you are doing every day in transforming lives. You’re making a difference in someone’s life every day.”