The third Sedalia-Pettis County United Way focus group meeting is Tuesday, and officials are hoping for a more diverse turnout than the first two.
Tuesday’s meeting will focus on safety net services, which Executive Director Linda Kirk said may have some people confused. She’s had less RSVPs for the event than the other three, and she said he thinks that may be because some people don’t know exactly what that term means.
“We did the focus groups on our areas of interest — education, income and health. We added safety net because there are some agencies in the community that don’t specifically sit under education, income and health,” she said. “They’re there to help folks, Red Cross and Open Door fall under that, sometimes they fall under multiple categories. Clothing, food, in times of crisis like a tornado, someone has a house fire, those types of services, a place for people to turn.”
The questions asked during the focus group will be similar to those asked in the last two sessions, but they will be geared toward safety net services — what do we want our community to look like? What is our responsibility in making it look like that? What do we want the role of safety net services to be?
Kirk said so far the number of attendees is a little low for Tuesday’s event compared to the other three. Her goal is to have at least 20 people each time, which happened at the education and income meetings. Several people have already responded about next Tuesday’s event, focused on health.
“Health, that will be a big one. A lot of people in the community are interested in topics around health,” Kirk said. “We already have a fairly good list for people attending that focus group.”
Kirk and other SPCUW officials have been working to gain a more diverse crowd at the focus groups so they can have a wider range of opinions and backgrounds when discussing community issues, but so far that goal has proven difficult to achieve.
“We want to have a representation of our entire community,” Kirk said. “We really haven’t had the black or Hispanic community attend the focus groups. We’ve reached out to them but just haven’t had the attendance. We haven’t had a response for any of the focus groups from them.”
Although diversity has been lacking, Kirk said she’s “very happy” with the turnouts and the discussion. Once all the focus groups have taken place, the SPCUW Impact Committee will compile the information into a report, which will be shared with the board, most likely in August. Once the board has heard the report, the information will be available for anyone in the public.
The safety net services focus group is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Fox Theater Events Center. The health focus group is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. July 15. RSVPs are requested by July 14 to firstname.lastname@example.org or 826-2980. Refreshments are provided.