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Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014

Block party plans halted

Thursday, September 6, 2001

SIKESTON - Recent tax cuts have left many organizations financially strapped and worried, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

Unfortunately Sikeston's Mission Missouri is not exempt from the changes. The group was forced to make several cutbacks, even having to call off this year's Christian Block Party which would have been celebrating its sixth consecutive year.

All staff members not funded by a particular grant or funding stream have been let go and LaToya Robinson, social services manager, has been working without a paycheck for the last month directing a new project that will not actually receive funding until mid-September.

There are a lot of changes having to be made, said Robinson, who blames part of the Block Party's cancellation to a lack of backing. The support simply isn't there, she said.

"Last year when we had the Christian Block Party we just didn't get support from the churches or the community in the planning or on the day of the event so the attendance was down," she explained.

"The whole purpose of the CBP was to tear down walls between races and denominations and get together and just enjoy each other. It really kind of saddens me to know that people just don't have a heart to work together or come together to make a positive event successful. It seems that people rally around negative situations but it's like pulling teeth to get them to do something positive that will, in the end, be extremely beneficial."

A traditional block party costs approximately $6,500 and last year's money came from Ferguson Medical Group, Sikeston Weed and Seed and Noranda.

"We asked area churches to donate $100 each for the food and we had nine churches respond," noted Janie Pfefferkorn, executive director of Mission Missouri. "Then we lost our main source of grant funding for the overall operation of the Mission last October and were on hold until July thinking that particular grant from the state would come through."

But as the women pointed out, there are many other services Mission Missouri provides that are being affected by the tax cuts. The Soup Kitchen, for one, has turned into a completely volunteer organization. Beverly Baker has joined as a volunteer coordinator and food served and supplies needed are coming in a little at a time.

"Many programs, non-profits and agencies have suffered from the financial problems in Jefferson City," said Pfefferkorn. "We all know what is happening at the state level and it is not good. We are spending nothing extra on anything, just trying to stay afloat until more solid funding can be established.

"It seems sad to call the Block Party 'extra,' but we are now concerned with keeping the lights on at the Mission. We have a volunteer bookkeeper, JoAnn Cato, and financial adviser, Ronnie Bloemer, who are helping us get all records and systems in place. It has been difficult, but we are actually going to be in much better shape, more accountable, productive and sustainable."