The Community Services Department provides assistance to a range of low-income individuals and families within EMAA’s service area. We take a holistic approach to ending poverty; starting by addressing the most basic needs, eliminating them and applying progressive programs designed to move families into financial freedom. Over 21,000 people received services last year through EMAA’s Community Service programs.

Some of the services we provide include:

Family Intake, Assessment & Referral – Community Service Representatives (CSR) are housed in all eight EMAA Outreach offices.  CSR’s analyze each household member’s individual needs as well as the family as a whole.  Referrals are made to EMAA programs as well as community partners and local resources based on identified needs.

SEMO Assets – This IDA savings program helps low-income families save money to be used in one of three ways: to purchase a home, for post-secondary education or to start and/or expand a small business. Families savings are matched with funds from EMAA at different rates depending on the asset they choose to save for.  Home ownership is matched 4-1; $1000 savings will receive a match of $4000.  Post Secondary Education and Small Business is matched 8-1; $500 savings will receive a match of $4000.

Participants of this program receive support through case management and obtain instruction in financial management, home ownership and micro-enterprise development to better ensure success and financial freedom.

Supporting, Empowering & Leveraging for Families (S.E.L.F.)  –  This program helps low-income families overcome barriers to achieve success by providing support and bundled services.  This program is a combined effort between all EMAA departments.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program:  Through our partnership with the IRS, Volunteers and CSR’s can prepare and electronically file Federal and State taxes for low income households.  They also prepare the Missouri Property Tax Credit (MO-PTC) for elderly and/or disabled households.

Emergency Food and Rental assistance – Emergency food is distributed primarily through a network of food pantries established by local churches and organizations in cooperation with EMAA and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP).  EFSP funding is also utilized to assist in emergency situations with rent.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – This is a federally funded program. The LIHEAP program has two components:  Energy Assistance (EA) and Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP). EA is a onetime benefit designed to assist low-income people with their heating bills.  To qualify applicants must meet income guidelines and be responsible for their heating bill.  ECIP is designed to alleviate a crisis. To qualify, applicants must be in disconnection threat, low on propane or wood.

Community Services also administers privately funded emergency energy programs such as Dollar More, Dollar Help, Round-Up, and Liberty Utilities. Funds are limited and certain restrictions apply.

Certified Application Counselors-  EMAA employs four counselors who are federally and state licensed to explain the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance, help clients sign-up for insurance on,  and who will explain prices and insurance plan details. The counselors receive continuous training through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and from the state-wide organization Cover Missouri.   To find a counselor outside of the EMAA service area, please visit the zip code locator on the Cover Missouri website.

To make a confidential appointment with a an insurance counselor please contact one of the following individuals:
Gina Harper – 573-366-0564 (Cape Girardeau, Perry and Bollinger Counties) Tues, Wed and Thurs

Lisa Smith – 573-701-4579 (Cape Girardeau, Perry, Bollinger, Ste. Genevieve Counties) Mon and Thurs

Lynn Blackwell – 573-330-1830 (Washington, Ste. Genevieve, and Jefferson Counties) Mon, Tues, Wed and Thurs

Tammy Halbrook – 573-330-1580 (St. Francis, Iron and Madison Counties) Mon, Tues, Wed and Thurs

When making a new appointment with a counselor, please bring the following items to your appointment: personal information ( address, DOB, Soc #, Income) of all members in the household, email address, physician name(s), and prescriptions to look up.  If you already have had coverage through and are renewing your policy for next year with the help of a counselor, please bring the same info as listed above but also your login and password.

We also provide Community Projects such as:

Step Up to Leadership -This is a 12-session course designed for low-income people who are interested in making a difference in their local community. There is a strong focus on developing leadership skills, service on non-profit boards, public speaking and grant writing. The goal of this program is to offer low-income people a voice and skills to make change in their community.

Summer Food Service Program -The Summer Food Program is available to all children through age 18, as well as disabled adults 18-21 who are enrolled in public or private school during the regular school year. Click the links below for locations in your area:

Cape Girardeau County
St. Francois County
Ste. Genevieve County
Washington County

Reality Enrichment And Life Lessons (REALL)–  The REALL simulation was developed by Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC).  It is designed to challenge youth to think critically about how choices and decisions made in adolescence may have consequences in adulthood.  During a REALL Simulation, youth will encounter issues of inadequate education, inadequate income, managing a budget, being labeled as an ex-offender, caring for small children and more. They will be challenged to make REAL decisions.

Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) – Understanding the day-to-day reality of poverty is important for everyone involved in fighting poverty –
from policymakers to service providers. MISSOURI’S COMMUNITY ACTION POVERTY SIMULATION (CAPS) is a unique tool that helps people begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress.

Information on all programs administered by East Missouri Action Agency, Inc. may be obtained from any Community Services Outreach Office, or by contacting the Cathy Poole, Community Services Department Director.