Substance Abuse Task Force receives $342,500 in grant funds

Ozark County Health Department director Rhonda Suter, left, pharmacist Sandra Wade and physician Masa Kinoshita, members of the Ozark County Substance Abuse Task Force, wrote and submitted proposals to two separate grant programs in December 2019 that were recently accepted for funding. The task force was notified that it will receive a $340,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health and $2,500 grant from Christian Research Hospital.

During their Jan. 14 meeting, members of the Ozark County Substance Abuse Task Force learned that the organization has received two separate grants totaling $342,500 that will be used to help advance the task force’s mission of combating substance abuse locally. 

A total of 19 members were present at the January meeting held at Missouri Ozarks Community Health in Gainesville. 


$340,000 Missouri Foundation for Health grant

Ozark County Health Department director Rhonda Suter said the task force’s application titled “Creating Local Behavioral Health System Change,” which was submitted to the Missouri Foundation for Health grant program, was accepted for $340,000 in funding. The grant money will be used to carry out the group’s proposed plan over a three-year period. 

During the first year, funds will be used to hire a qualified “navigator,” a paid employee who will serve as a liaison between the task force and community members battling addition, Suter said. The navigator’s time will focus on helping individuals with substance abuse disorders become contributing members of the community and society.

The navigator will do this by developing and maintaining relationships with addicted or mentally ill clients, aiding them in obtaining treatment, housing, transportation, education and whatever else they may need. The navigator will follow up with clients regularly throughout the process to ensure they are working toward their goals. 

Suter told the task force she is currently working on a job description listing qualifications needed for the position. 

The grant funds will also be used in the first year to provide substance abuse prevention education and other related training at Ozark County schools. 

The task force plans to create a crisis intervention team (CIT) that will consist of law enforcement officers, mental health and addiction professionals along with local residents who suffer from mental illness or have addiction issues and their family members. 

The CIT will focus on helping those with mental disorders or addiction to access medical treatment and ultimately avoid becoming a part of the criminal justice system due to substance abuse or mental illness-fueled behaviors. 

In the grant program’s second year, the navigator will work to strengthen and build relationships and create collaborative efforts among the task force, law enforcement, judicial officials, religious leaders in the community, local health care providers and substance abuse treatment centers. 

The third year will focus on creating a financially sustainable plan to continue funding the salary of the navigator after the grant program concludes.


$2,500 Christian Research Hospital grant

Task force members Sandra Wade, a Gainesville pharmacist, and Dr. Masa Kinoshita, a physician at Theodosia Family Medical Center, also announced that the task force’s application to the Christian Research Hospital grant program was successful. Wade and Kinoshita said the $2,500 awarded for their application will be used over the course of a year to secure a safe facility where homeless pregnant women with addiction or young mothers who are struggling with substance abuse can safely sleep. They hope the facility will also become a teaching center focused on obtaining skills necessary to overcome addiction and care for their children. 


Next meeting

The next meeting of the Ozark County Substance Abuse Task Force will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the MOCH building on Elm Street in Gainesville.

The meetings are public, and everyone is welcome. 

For more information, contact the task force at or PO Box 793, Gainesville, MO 65655.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423