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By Echo Menges
The hard work of several local artists and craftsmen will be auctioned off at an event to benefit Rain of Central Missouri. It is Rain’s 19th Annual Wine and Art Gala and it is the organization’s most important fundraiser of the year.
Rain of Central Missouri, which is not widely known about in the Northeast region, was founded in 1992 by members of the United Methodist Church who wanted to provide compassionate care to people dying of AIDS in Columbia, MO. The acronym RAIN stands for Regional AIDS Interfaith Network.
In 1998 the organization was approved to provide case management services to those living with HIV and AIDS inherently growing as their number of clients increased.
Over the years the organization has been built up to provide more services to more people including free HIV, Hepatitis C, Cymatia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis testing on top of outreach, education and prevention programs offered in an ever growing service area, which, since 2008, has included Knox County and all of Northeast Missouri.
“We took over case management in the Northeast in 2008 officially (serving people living with HIV and AIDS). It was dollars. The state had a contract with the Ralls County Health Department for your area. At that time money was getting pretty tight and our numbers were showing that we were serving more people, providing the same services, for less money. We took over the western and northeast part of the state. It took us from 28 counties total to 37 counties total,” said Rain’s Director Cale Mitchell. “And now we’re providing housing services to another 29 counties on top of that. It was about money and being able to do more with less and being really creative to piece it all together.”
According to Mitchell, the organization is always trying to find ways to do more with less and the current level of funding doesn’t cover everything. Rain relies on the Wine & Art Gala fundraiser to help pay for some of those unforeseen added costs and it helps the organization make ends meet.
“We always have a target to raise about $30,000 at the event. Those dollars allow us to be flexible and deal with unusual things that come up with our clients,” said Mitchell. “Case management dollars are very specific on where they can be used.”
This is the first year Northeast Missouri has had a showing at Rain’s Annual Wine & Art Gala and event organizers are excited to have the added support.
Five art submissions representing Northeast Missouri will be included in this year’s benefit auction at the Wine & Art Gala.
Gary Gibson of Edina has donated one of his handcrafted segmented wooden bowls made of 139 individual pieces of wood he glued together and smoothed with a lathe. Frank Crabtree, Jr., of Edina will have a handmade intricate and ornate wooden wall hanging titled “The Lords Prayer,” which he made with a scroll saw nearly six years ago in the auction. Members of the Knox County Kut Ups Quilting Club and long time quilters Rose Marie Smith of Atlanta, MO, and Kay Beach of Kirksville, MO, respectively donated a hand appliquéd Christmas themed wall hanging and an intricately pieced baby quilt. And well known artist from Knox County, Shirley Howerton Gooch of Hartford, IA, donated one of her handmade cork necklaces to the organization.
Artists and wineries can also donate works and wines for next years Wine & Art Gala by contacting the Rain office and people wishing to contribute to the organization non-monetarily can by spreading the word about Rain’s services.
“I think more than anything is just to talk about it. Education and making people aware that our services are available and that there are people in need,” said Mitchell. “All of our services are always provided at no cost to the client and there aren’t many things out there that are free anymore. Anyone could call our office and set up an appointment and come in and get tested.”
According to Mitchell, who has been with Rain for over 11 years, over 6,000 people have been helped by education, testing, prevention and other programs offered by Rain of Central Missouri.
To learn more about Rain of Central Missouri visit their website at missourirain.org.