West Central Missouri Community Action Agency (West Central) is proud to announce that it’s longest tenured employee, Marye Sanderson, received the prestigious Charles Braithwait Leadership Award at the Missouri CAN (Community Action Network) State Conference held at the University Plaza Hotel, April 4-6th.
West Central has been in existence for 52 years (since 1965) and Sanderson has worked for the agency for 45 of those 52 years making her the longest tenured employee at the agency.
When Sanderson began her career with West Central, her then Executive Director was Charles Braithwait, for whom the award is named. Charles Braithwait began his career in community action at West Central in 1965. He was one of the founders of the National Community Action Foundation and was appointed by President Gerald Ford to the Commission for Economic Development. Missouri’s premier community action award is given annually to someone in the Missouri Community Action Network who exemplifies the energy and dedication demonstrated by Charles Braithwait.
Upon accepting her award, Sanderson started recalling the early years of community action. In her acceptance speech, Sanderson shared with the attendees some early memories of her career with West Central. She stated, “At the age of 18, as a new employee, I faced the fact OEO (Office of Economic Opportunity) was to be defunded under our administration (Nixon Administration) and witnessed my Executive Director and agency suing the President. Few of our daily work challenges were working out of a government car that had no air conditioning, using a box as my filing cabinet, using my kitchen table to finish up paperwork and using my home phone to make appointments with our clients. I have walked a grid in small towns and in the rural county areas, going door-to-door, to find the needs of people living in those communities. As time went on, I helped (on the ground floor) to initiate and establish new programs such as women’s health clinics, Section 8 vouchers for rural areas, emergency housing, nutrition sites for Seniors, food pantries, family support, emergency utility assistance, back-to-school
fairs, and helped partner with other agencies in the communities, to establish new resources for families. It’s my distinct honor to accept this award, not just for myself, but for all the frontline staff- as Mr. “B” (Braithwait) always called us. Thank you!”
West Central’s current President and CEO, Chris Thompson, said “Marye has helped thousands of Missourians rise up to overcome poverty in her career with this agency. She has served more than 45 years and has worn many hats during that time. She has devoted her life to her community. Marye is the epitome of determination, selflessness, leadership and passion. Marye is community action. We are very proud of her commitment to West Central and its clients.”
West Central Missouri Community Action Agency is dedicated to empowering people to make a positive change by coordinating and administering resources. West Central’s service region includes the counties of Cedar, Vernon, Hickory, St. Clair, Bates, Henry, Benton, Morgan, and Cass. West Central Missouri Community Action Agency strives to be the voice in our communities and our governments for those most in need.
Assistance units within the organization include the following: Community Services, Employment and Training, Energy Conservation, Health Services, Housing, and Early Childhood Education (Headstart).
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