The Columbia Daily Tribune presented seven local volunteers with awards on Monday, April 14, 2014 as recognition of the work they have done. Categories for the awards include community protection, education or literacy, health care, in the arts, youth, group and individual volunteer of the year.
For the 11th year, the Voluntary Action Center and the Downtown Optimist Club worked with the City of Columbia on a program called "Homes for Computers." This program gives used computers to low income Columbia families.
Rick McKernan, a member of the Downtown Optimist Club, described how families had to meet certain criteria as decided by The Voluntary Action Center before receiving the computers. The family has to have a child in the local school system, it can’t have a computer already, and must have financial need.
Volunteering programs set up in both Boone and Callaway Counties have seen an increase in families asking for assistance this holiday season. And many other families and organizations have stepped in to provide the assistance.
A new study conducted by a University of Missouri faculty member found families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are paying more for health care than families of children with other medical conditions. Assistant professor Nancy Cheak-Zamora says families are paying more for fewer services: “Most of the families, she says, "spent over one-thousand dollars or more just in out of pocket costs, which is significantly higher than other families.”
A program that provides free daily meals to children from low-income families is under way this week in Columbia. The Lunch in the Park program fills a need that arises when the school year ends. Many children who receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year may not have access to nutritious meals during the summer.
The program, a partnership between the Health Department and the Volunteer Action Center, can serve more than 100 kids each day. Lunch in the Park also provides entertainment and educational activities.