2019 Celebrating 30 Years

A Year of Milestones

Wow! This year has marked a significant milestone for Midwest Special Needs Trust (MSNT) — 30 years of helping individuals and families with special needs plan for their financial futures. This summer, we gathered with our partners to celebrate the anniversary and unveil a booklet we compiled to share the story of MSNT’s history and its impact.

As the rest of the world looks to MSNT as a model of special needs planning, we continue to spread the word throughout the Midwest about the services we offer to assist people with disabilities and their families in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Before we flip the calendar page to 2020, let’s look back on our accomplishments of the past year. For Midwest Special Needs Trust, 2019 was a year with much to celebrate! Scroll down to continue reading…

  • Executive Director Kathy Birkes presented to statewide coordinators at the Boone Country Resource Center on special needs trusts and ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts.
  • Charitable Trust Specialist Heather Cooper and Executive Director Kathy Birkes attended the Missouri Coalition on Oral Health’s 2019 Oral Health Policy Conference focused on improving oral health for Missourians.
  • Professor Linkai Yang of Japan’s Aoyama Gakuin University traveled from Tokyo to Columbia to visit with MSNT Executive Director Kathy Birkes. Professor Yang, who is researching special needs trusts for Japan, is featuring MSNT as a representative case when he publishes his paper on trust practice in the United States. He also plans to translate into Japanese Birkes’ paper from the 2017 Symposium on Special Needs Financial Planning in Hong Kong. The paper, which details the inner workings of a successful special needs trust operation, will see a separate publication in Japan.

  • Charitable Trust Specialist Heather Cooper and IT Director Gabe Wilkerson exhibited at the Power Up 2019 Assistive Technology Conference in Columbia to spread the word about MSNT’s services.
  • Trust Specialists Casie Stephens, Nathan McKee and Sterling Odneal offered their expertise at the 2019 Missouri Public Administrators Conference in Columbia, educating administrators in the ways MSNT can help their clients’ finances.
  • Columbia radio station KFRU featured MSNT and its 30th anniversary when Columbia Morning with David Lile hosted an on-air conversation with Executive Director Kathy Birkes. Listen here
  • MSNT Executive Director Kathy Birkes added MSNT support to the annual Coastal Electric Golf Invitational at the Columbia Country Club. The charitable golf tournament benefits the BJ Palmer Memorial Fund to meet the maintenance costs for more than 30 homes where people with developmental disabilities can live independently.
  • Trust Specialists Mary Lou Hughes and Nathan McKee updated their knowledge at the 13th annual meeting of the Academy of Special Needs Planners in Chicago.
  • Following a devastating tornado that struck Missouri’s state capital on May 22, the MSNT Board of Trustees voted to increase funding of its charitable grant program by $150,000 to help serve those in Jefferson City and Eldon, cities suffering from tornado damage and spring floods. The Charitable Disaster Relief grants distributed up to $1,500 each to low-income Missourians with special needs in disastrous circumstances.
  • Columbia radio station KOPN hosted a conversation with Executive Director Kathy Birkes on MSNT’s history and services, which aired on Mid Missouri Freedom Forum with Steve Spellman.
  • Trust Specialist Casie Stephens took part in the Missouri Bar Solo & Small Firm Conference in Osage Beach.
  • KMIZ ABC 17 News interviewed Executive Director Kathy Birkes for a story on MSNT and its 30th anniversary.

  • MSNT marked its 30th anniversary with a celebration in Columbia and presented St. Louis native Jerry Zafft with the first-ever Jerry Zafft Award. Named for MSNT’s founder, the award honors those who — through activism, volunteerism and other forms of public service — exhibit exceptional dedication to helping people with disabilities and their families.
  • Trust Specialists Casie Stephens and Heather Cooper were on hand at the 17th annual Family Law Conference in Branson.
  • Trust Specialists Casie Stephens, Sterling Odneal and Heather Cooper took part in the Real Voices Real Choices Conference in Osage Beach.
  • Trust Specialists Heather Cooper and Nathan McKee exhibited at the Arc of Missouri Education Summit in Columbia.
  • MSNT Executive Director Kathy Birkes and Trust Specialist Mary Lou Hughes traveled to Denver to attend the annual meeting of the Association of Trust Organizations.

  • Trust Specialists Casie Stephens and Heather Cooper met with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson during the Missouri as a Model Employer Talent Showcase at the state Capitol in Jefferson City. The Talent Showcase served as a reverse career fair to provide people with disabilities a way to showcase their talents and achievements for potential employers in mid-Missouri.
  • IT Director Gabe Wilkerson attended the Brain Injury Association (BIA) of Missouri annual conference in Maryville, Missouri.  He enjoyed the firsthand experiences of the excellent speakers and the warm environment created by the attendees.
  • The October issue of COMO magazine featured MSNT in its Nonprofit Spotlight.
  • Trust Specialist III Casie Stephens spoke at the St. Louis Arc.  She regularly collaborates with the Arc on presentations and this was the highest number in attendance ever!
  • Trust Specialist III Mary Lou Hughes became a new member of the Chamber of Commerce Showcase Committee and will be collaborating with other local organization in promoting our services.
  • Trust Specialists Mary Lou Hughes and Nathan McKee attended the 2019 Missouri Elder Law Symposium in St. Charles, Missouri. Elder law attorneys and staff from throughout Missouri and Illinois gather for this annual symposium to learn the latest developments in elder law.
  • Executive Director Kathy Birkes discussed MSNT’s charitable grant program on KBIA’s Radio Friends with Paul Pepper.
2019 Oral Health Policy Conference
Professor Yang from Aoyama Gakuin University
Power UP 2019 Conference
Power Up Assistive Technology Conference
Academy of Special Needs Planners 13th Annual Meeting
Academy of Special Needs Planners
Missouri Bar Solo & Small Firm Conference
Jerry Zafft with MSNT Staff
Association of Trust Organizations Annual Meeting
With Missouri Governor Mike Parson at the Missouri as a Model Employer Talent Showcase
Missouri Elder Law Symposium