Category Archives: Do Some Good

United Way Agency Spotlight: Lafayette House

Leggett & Platt fosters a culture of giving, encouraging our employees to Do Some Good. Throughout the course of our local, Southwest Missouri campaign, we will shine a spotlight on several of the incredible agencies that United Way serves in our community. Times may be difficult, but we have witnessed communities rising to meet these hard moments. If in a position to give this year, we encourage you to support your local agency, too.

Lafayette House

Founded in 1978, Lafayette House is a sanctuary for individuals and families who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault or who struggle with substance use disorders.

Through their residential facility in Joplin and outreach office in Neosho, Lafayette House offers a full range of services to support individuals and their families: domestic violence intervention including shelter and support; residential and outpatient treatment for substance use disorders; advocacy, support and counseling for sexual assault; onsite child care; and a variety of support services from counseling and case management to court advocacy and job training.

Last year, Lafayette House was able to serve 1,167 adults and children in our local community. They also provided 10,283 bed nights and 18,545 meals to affected families with nowhere else to turn.

During the pandemic, their computer systems were also upgraded to support videoconferencing, which enables them to provide services virtually. This technology allowed them to serve a greater number of families, particularly those who had found someplace safe to go but could still benefit from counseling services and other resources.

Many of the grants Lafayette House receives are targeted to very specific positions or programs. However, the donations they receive from United Way allow them to diversify their funding and cover crucial operational expenses which might otherwise have gone unfunded.

“The donations we receive from United Way really allow us to keep our shelter running day-to-day,” says Louise Secker, Director of Development. “They also demonstrate the strong local support our organization has – which is important when applying for grants from other sources.”

For more information about the services available at The Lafayette House, visit lafayettehouse.org

United Way Agency Spotlight: Legal Aid of Western Missouri

Leggett & Platt fosters a culture of giving, encouraging our employees to Do Some Good. Throughout the course of our local, Southwest Missouri campaign, we will shine a spotlight on several of the incredible agencies that United Way serves in our community. Times may be difficult, but we have witnessed communities rising to meet these hard moments. If in a position to give this year, we encourage you to support your local agency, too.

Legal Aid of Western Missouri

Since 1964, Legal Aid of Western Missouri has provided dignity, self-sufficiency, and justice through quality civil legal aid for those who may have nowhere else to turn.

Many low-income individuals are denied the basic rights to which they are entitled under the law simply because they can’t afford an attorney. The availability of free civil legal aid can make all the difference to those fighting to stay in their homes, escape domestic violence, secure veterans’ benefits, or address many other legal challenges that go to the heart of their security and well-being.

Contributions to our local United Ways help fund two specific programs at Legal Aid of Western Missouri – Access to Healthcare and Voices in Court.

When members of our community become sick and cannot work, they may be unable to afford the treatment they need to return to good health. If Medicare or Medicaid benefits are unfairly denied or terminated prematurely, those without insurance are left with very few options. The Access to Healthcare program works with these individuals to ensure they receive due process in fighting for the benefits to which they are entitled.

“We get many referrals from partner agencies and local hospitals,” says Pam Roychaudhury, Managing Attorney. “By helping patients qualify for benefits they need to receive medical treatment, we can actually save lives.”

The Voices in Court program supports local victims of domestic violence, with legal representation that is often vital to their safety. A local study found that only 50% of protective order requests are granted if the victim does not have an attorney, while 98% are successful if they have representation.

Victims of abuse are often afraid to leave their abuser because they don’t want to leave their kids in the home with the abuser. The Voices in Court program also helps to protect children in these households through temporary custody orders. In some cases, the child is also a victim. By partnering with other organizations in the community, these families are able to leave an unsafe environment.

“Our clients truly need a voice in court – or someone to represent them,” says Pam. “These cases are often very intimidating and can last for months. It’s important that victims have someone to support them through that difficult process.”

L&P and Hammond Firefighters Join Together for Family in Need

The Hammond Firefighters Association in Indiana recently responded to an emergency call and found several children sleeping on the floor with only blankets. Their team brought the situation to the local Union’s attention.

After reaching out to the community for donations and support, they contacted L&P to inquire about a discounted price on new beds. Understanding the circumstance, Leggett & Platt chose to donate four twin mattresses to the family. The donations collected by the firefighters were then used to purchase bed frames to lift the children off the floor.

We are very grateful for the opportunity to give back to this family in such an important way. Everyone at L&P would like to wish their family a good night’s sleep for years to come!

Community & Culture: Spiva Center for the Arts

Last week, we introduced you to one of the exhibitions currently on display at the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts. L&P has a long history of supporting the arts in our community and are a corporate sponsor of their organization. The show, scheduled to run through March 13th, is a perfect representation of the importance of this philanthropy — educating all of us about the history of the Joplin community, while also highlighting the accomplishments and work of African American artists, musicians, athletes, and poets.

Spiva’s Main Gallery exhibit, Route 66: Crossing Cultural Lines, showcases more than 100 works by some of America’s premier painters, sculptors, textile artists, poets, and photographers. These works highlight the significant role that Route 66 played in cross-pollinating cultures throughout our country.

“The artists are presenting their interpretations of the stories associated with the highway,” says curator Sara Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin. “These experiences include professional baseball, territory bands, jazz musicians, civil rights crusades, military bases, or hopping in that big red truck to search for that perfect place to go camping and fishing. Art is a powerful tool of the truth, and these artists serve as our custodial documenters of our past.”

Fiber artist and designer, Kim Newton, is one of several artists featured in the exhibit. Kim has been recognized as one of the top 100 African Americans in corporate America, having served as Senior Vice President of Consumer Experience of the Hallmark Brand, where she’s enjoyed a 20-plus year career. She’s also been named to the 2017 class of The Henry Crown Fellow by the Aspen Institute and serves as a member of The Executive Leadership Council, The Network of Executive Women, African-American Artist Collective, The Links, Inc. and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Kim Newton is an accomplished Fiber Artist and Designer. She is featured above with two of her textiles – a depiction of Langston Hughes, a Joplin native and poet, novelist, fiction writer, playwright, and Harlem Renaissance pioneer (left); and a depiction of an African American woman using real jewelry as a 3D element of the piece (right).

Kim’s grandmother taught her traditional quilting when she was 22. She evolved to a modern approach to the craft, putting herself and her experiences into the storytelling. Instantly recognized as unique, she had the opportunity to feature her quilts in her first show at 28, and eventually secured her first solo show in May of 2020. She works almost exclusively with Indonesian batik fabric because of their color vibrancy, symbolic meaning, and workmanship. She believes the variation of the fabric brings movement to and enhances the emotion of her pieces.

Click here to take a virtual tour of the Spiva Center for the Arts exhibition.

Community & Culture: Spiva Center for the Arts

This textile by Sara Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin, titled “Outside My Picture Window / Mayfair 33502”, is displayed with a list of the streets of East Town, Joplin. The artwork represents the historic African American community where the artist was raised and nurtured. The exhibition at the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts is open through March 13th.

Anyone who has visited L&P’s Corporate Office has seen the extensive collection of paintings which grace our hallways. Two of our former CEOs, Harry Cornell and Felix Wright, were passionate collectors of fine art. This appreciation led to Leggett & Platt’s long history of supporting the arts within our local community. The current exhibition at the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts is a perfect representation of the importance of this philanthropy — educating all of us about the history of the Joplin community, while also highlighting the accomplishments and work of African American artists, musicians, athletes, and poets.

The show, scheduled to run through March 13th, features three unique exhibits, curated by nationally acclaimed fabric artist and Joplin native, Sara Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin. Her own work is featured in one of those exhibits, entitled Journey: Legacy, East Town.


According to Ms. Thompson-Ruffin’s artist statement, East Town is an exhibition curated in a mixture of textiles designed to engage the viewer in a visual conversation. Many of these textiles are accompanied by poetry written by Sonia Sanchez, a writer and educator considered by many to be the leading female voice of the Black Revolution.

“This collection is a touchstone of accounts, experiences, and contributions of Joplin’s East Town,” says Sara. “It shares a people’s journey, facing the hardships and adversities of building a viable community during a time when African Americans were not welcomed to live in or around Missouri and its surrounding areas.”

The work also highlights the rich resiliency of Joplin’s historic African American community, where she was raised and nurtured.

“The African American residents of Joplin persevered through all adversities. They used their talents, gifts, and education to build a strong and vibrant community in spite of all the challenges that besieged them,” shares Sara. “We are all the legacy of their gifts.”

United Way Agency Spotlight: Boys & Girls Club

We value a culture of giving and encourage our employees to Do Some Good. Throughout the course of our Corporate campaign, we have shown a spotlight on several of the incredible agencies that United Way serves in our local community. Times may be difficult, but we have witnessed communities rising to meet hard moments. If in a position to give this year, we encourage you to support your local agency, too.

Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri

Many working families in our community have come to rely on the exceptional care their children receive at the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri. At only $25 per semester, their after-school program is very affordable  saving families money during a time when funds have never been tighter. Participating children develop ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals while interacting and having fun with friends their own age. The program has been carefully designed to advance academic success, character, and healthy lifestyles.

This year presented several creative challenges. The staff used the shut-down to complete a planned renovation and expansion of their facility but were able to move to an alternative location for their summer program. The pandemic also required them to operate at a reduced capacity and to implement additional safety protocols. Taking these measures allowed the participating kids to be kids again: playing with friends, spending time with mentors and heroes, watching guest speakers, and participating in a variety of fun activities.

In addition to the other changes, Boys & Girls Club also worked to strengthen their virtual programming this summer. This meant even more kids were learning through targeted and engaging activities. Staff utilized social media and created video content to help to minimize learning losses during the pandemic, often encouraging kids to share their results and engage using hashtags.

“We take a very educational approach to our program,” says Rhonda Gorham, Executive Director. “We focus on providing them with learning opportunities in math, reading, and especially science  which is fun because it can be messy!” During the school year, staff also require all students to complete their homework, which frees up their evening to focus on time with their families.


Throughout the rest of this school year, the Boys & Girls Club is committed to encouraging the kids in their program. They also hope to increase the number of students they’re able to serve. The United Way donations they receive are vital to that service  covering staff salaries, project materials, meals, and other expenses of the program.

“We look forward to a time when we can welcome volunteers into our doors again. It was really nice to have those extra hands,” says Rhonda. “However, people can help in many other ways. We really appreciate it when people take the time to connect with us on social media and help to share our message. Our club is working to build our community… starting with each of the children we serve.”

United Way Agency Spotlight: Jasper County 4-H

We value a culture of giving and encourage our employees to Do Some Good. Throughout the course of our Corporate campaign, we’ll be spotlighting several of the incredible agencies that United Way serves in our local community. Times may be difficult, but we have witnessed communities rising to meet hard moments. If in a position to give this year, we encourage you to support your local agency, too.

Jasper County 4-H 

At the beginning of every meeting and event, 4-H members make a pledge to the American Flag and the 4-H flag. They repeat in unison, “I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking, my HEART to greater loyalty, my HANDS to larger service, and my HEALTH to better living  for my club, my community, my country and my world.”

This promise clearly encompasses what 4‑H aims to do. Through their clubs, kids and teens complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment — where they receive guidance from volunteer adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Jasper County’s program has several active clubs in the area, which are delivered by the University of Missouri Extension.

Pictured above are five of the eight 4-H members who served on the livestock judging teams this year. These kids completed this state contest virtually. Jasper County 4-H’s junior team placed 5th in the State and the senior team placed 6th — both within their respective divisions.

With projects on more than 75 topics, 4-H has something to interest every child. Some of those learning opportunities include: geocaching, robotics, international exchanges, horsemanship, pets, starting a business, arts and crafts, raising animals, woodworking, photography and gardening. Many clubs have also taken on critical societal issues, such as addressing community health inequities, engaging in civil discourse and advocating for equity and inclusion for all.

The program emphasizes equal opportunities for kids who may be underserved as well. “We want to ensure that all the children in our program develop a partnership with an adult who can mentor them,” says Sarah Townley, 4-H Youth Program Associate. “The influence of a positive adult role model can really benefit a child throughout their entire life.”

Last December, Jasper County 4-H Teen Council rang the bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Donation Drive.

As with many other local non-profit organizations, the issues presented by the pandemic have been a challenge. However, staff and volunteers of 4-H have worked diligently to continue presenting engaging learning opportunities for their participants. While they were unable to meet in person, many clubs provided virtual options, and leaders adjusted the requirements for specific achievements. The children were even able to compete in a closed-door Jasper County Youth Fair, where they were able to safely compete in livestock shows. Other projects were judged remotely. While somewhat altered, these changes provided goals, normalcy, and community to many kids, during a difficult time.

The Jasper County Youth Fair is normally the largest fundraiser for Jasper County 4-H, so these changes have brought financial hardship as well. They are extremely grateful for the consistent support they receive from the United Way, as it enables them to continue the work they do with youth in our community.

“United Way allows our kids to go and do things they have never been able to before,” says Sarah. “Those dollars are often used to cover registration fees and expenses for the kids to attend state and national contests, summer camps, and leadership conferences. We really want to provide opportunities for all the kids we serve.”

In February (pre-Covid), the local Senior Meats Judging team competed at the Missouri State 4-H meat judging contest — and took First Place!

United Way Agency Spotlight: Joplin Family Y

We value a culture of giving and encourage our employees to Do Some Good. Throughout the course of our Corporate campaign, we’ll be spotlighting several of the incredible agencies that United Way serves in our local community. Times may be difficult, but we have witnessed communities rising to meet hard moments. If in a position to give this year, we encourage you to support your local agency, too.

Joplin Family Y

The Joplin Family YMCA has been a fixture of the Joplin community for 129 years. You might know them best for their fitness offerings, which include cardio and strength equipment, group classes, and personal training. However, they’re more than just a gym and the name says it all – Joplin Family YMCA.

Staff at the Joplin Family Y work every day to strengthen the foundations of our community through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Often, this mission impacts the families they serve in a very personal way.

When schools shut down during the pandemic, many essential workers struggled to find safe childcare. As a response, the Joplin Family YMCA implemented an Emergency Childcare Program to assist those families, which provided a healthy breakfast, lunch, snacks, assistance with their school’s remote learning activities, daily fitness activities, crafts and STEM projects.

Nikki’s son was one of 46 local children served by the program. It provided a safe, fun atmosphere for the kids, and allowed parents to continue serving our community during the crisis. “I’m very grateful,” said Nikki. “This program offered us both some consistency during a very difficult time.” Nicki even noticed that her son’s attitude greatly improved thanks to his experience there. While daily life felt very unfamiliar and chaotic during that time, the Emergency Childcare Program helped families navigate it together.

Like other nonprofit organizations around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a large toll on the Y. They were forced to manage facility closures, suspend memberships, and cancel all sporting programs. Enrollment in their afterschool programs in Joplin, Webb City, Carl Junction, and Carterville were also severely impacted. These unexpected financial pressures forced them to make many tough decisions regarding operating expenses. However, they remain dedicated to providing a safe, welcoming, and nurturing environment for the community, the members of the Y, and our local children.

As they begin to reopen their programs, the Joplin Family Y is particularly grateful for the support they receive from the United Way of Southwest Missouri. “The gifts we receive from United Way allow us to better focus on the families we serve,” says Cookie Estrada, Chief Executive Officer. “The health of our community is more vital now, than it has ever been.”

The Joplin Family Y welcomes the specialized talents of community volunteers as well. You can support their mission by providing services including Information Technology assistance, landscaping, reading to children, coaching, or by serving on their Board of Directors.

 

United Way Agency Spotlight: Children’s Haven

We value a culture of giving and encourage our employees to Do Some Good. Throughout the course of our Corporate campaign, we’ll be spotlighting several of the incredible agencies that United Way serves in our local community. Times may be difficult, but we have witnessed communities rising to meet hard moments. If in a position to give this year, we encourage you to support your local agency, too.

Children’s Haven

The staff at Children’s Haven face crisis every day. While the unique circumstances of this year’s pandemic have made their work more challenging, the goal remains the same – to support children through a family crisis with as little interruption to their life as possible.

Children’s Haven serves as the only shelter in our area where parents can preserve their custody, despite being separated from their children temporarily. The home provides a unique and crucial service to families struggling with homelessness, hospitalization, fear of abuse or neglect, lack of food or utilities, parents seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment, or even in situations involving incarceration.


In addition to a safe, temporary home, the Children’s Haven program provides a full-range of services designed to make them feel comfortable including:

  • Transportation to “home schools,” doctor’s appointments, and other activities
  • Educational support including homework assistance, school supplies and collaboration with teachers
  • Nutritional support including meals and healthy snacks each day
  • Field trips and fun activities
  • Case management to connect families to resources to solve the crises they are facing

Children are cared for by professional, trained, and screened Child Advocates, who work diligently to maintain a positive space for the children.

Leggett & Platt has supported the mission of Children’s Haven since their beginning in 2003, even donating mattresses to offer the children a comfortable place to rest their head at night.

To protect the health of the children they serve, volunteers are not allowed to help in the home this year. Stephanie Theis, Executive Director, is very proud of their team as they have taken on additional responsibility. “Our staff are dedicated to keeping us going 24/7. They continue to rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of these kids every day.”

The financial donations they receive from United Way are also very important. “So many things are changing each day,” says Stephanie. “Knowing we can count on that consistent support is a huge relief to us.”