Health initiatives provided by numerous Boone County organizations will receive a financial boost with new funding from the Heart of Missouri United Way.

The United Way announced more than $484,000 in 2017-18 spending on 10 local not-for-profit groups focused on healthy eating, substance abuse treatment, mental and dental health and more this week. Funding comes from the more than $3 million raised during the United Way's 2016 campaign, said Jennifer Truesdale, spokeswoman for the United Way. The organization received 18 proposals from 16 agencies when it began accepting funding requests in January, according to a news release.

More than $1.2 million will be dispersed among United Way's other 24 partner agencies that focus on education and basic needs on a staggered funding cycle over multiple years.

Among the health programs, the second largest amount at $87,000 will go to Phoenix Health Programs for opioid addiction treatment. The program, which will receive another $87,000 in United Way funds in both the second and third years of the funding cycle, will serve residents ages 18 to 25 who are uninsured and unable to pay for treatment. Participants could be prescribed buprenorphine and Vivitrol, drugs used in treating opioid dependence, in controlled dosages.

Opioid addiction is considered a health epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control. The number of Boone County residents discharged from emergency rooms with an opioid diagnosis increased from 88 in 2004 to 188 in 2014, according to the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services. Prescription opioid abuse often leads users to turn to heroin, a cheaper and more accessible alternative.

City of Refuge, a local organization that aids refugees, will receive more than $32,000 to provide health advocacy and counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Barry Stoll, executive director of City of Refuge, said health advocates will work with refugees to help coordinate their health needs, whether they be immediate or long term. Health advocates also will help organize transportation and set up appointments and interpretation services. Refugees oftentimes have difficulties accessing health care because of language barriers, Stoll said.

A large percentage of refugees come to the U.S. with PTSD because of their experiences in refugee camps or their homeland, which for some means coming from war-torn regions, he said. Counseling could be individual or in a group setting.

"As they become more comfortable and they get settled, then some of these things start working their way up to the surface of their minds and their emotions," Stoll said. "We're seeing more and more of that."

Other programs receiving funding from the United Way in 2017-18 are:


Compass Health, doing business as the Family Counseling Center, at $120,000 for behavioral intervention for children and clinical intervention for their family members;
Family Health Center of Boone County at $64,532 for oral health education and care;
Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture at $59,402 for home garden installation and mentoring in gardening and cooking;
Lutheran Family & Children's Services at $55,960 for physical and mental health care for young parents;
Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbia at $32,800 for health lifestyle programs after school, over the summer and during weekends;
Great Circle at $24,300 for monthly support groups, mentorship and extra-curricular activities focused on healthy behaviors;
First Chance for Children at $7,000 for developing a strategic plan into its business practice and increase service to families;
Sustainable Farms & Communities at $1,410 for a more accurate enrollment process that will produce better data.

The United Way will accept three-year proposals for education programs and two-year proposals for basic needs services in January 2018. The following year, it will take proposals for financial stability programs and services, according to a news release.

bruess@columbiatribune.com

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