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First-gen college grad aims to give back as new faculty member and owner of unique Pittsburg business

From Pittsburg State University

An immigrant from Mexico, Sandra Cobos was the first in her family to go to college. After becoming a single mom as a student, she went on to earn three degrees from Pittsburg State University.

Today, she’s a new faculty member and just cut the ribbon on her new downtown boutique aimed at helping women and children.

It is the perfect way, she said, to celebrate the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15: by showing others what can be achieved through hard work, determination, and a desire to serve others.

“I just can’t believe this is the life I get to live now, and I am so, so grateful,” she said.


Cobos, an assistant instructional professor of psychology and counseling and the director of the school psychology program, grew up in Mexico.

“We moved here to the U.S. when I was 9,” she said. “My dad wanted to give me the one thing no one could ever take away from me and that was an education.”

They settled in Northwest Arkansas. As a high school senior, she chose PSU.

“It just felt right,” she said of the university and the campus.

“My dad sacrificed everything and worked so hard to put me through school,” she said. “He was my number one supporter and it is what helped me along the way. Now as a parent, I see he always believed in me in ways I didn’t believe in myself.”


When Cobos became a mother, her daughter, Luna, was born prematurely and diagnosed with hydrocephalus.

“When I learned about her condition and potential for developmental delays later in life, I realized I wanted to be the best advocate I could be,” she said.

Cobos powered on and earned her bachelor’s degree by Luna’s first birthday. Luna couldn’t lift her head at that time, though, and couldn’t walk until she was almost two years old. Cobos pursued as many resources as she could to help Luna with early intervention and began to understand the importance of empathy in her field — particularly when delivering difficult results to parents.

“I know exactly what it is like to hear that your child has a disability and I believe it is what has helped me be a better practitioner,” she said.

Today, Luna is 8 and “doing amazing,” Cobos said. “She’s scoring in the 98th percentile in reading and math now, which speaks to the importance of early intervention. I share her success story with my students. She is the reason I’m so passionate about the field of school psychology.”

Cobos went on to earn her master’s degree and her educational specialist degree, both from PSU. She worked for six years as a school psychologist in Carthage, Missouri, in Leavenworth, Kansas, and at the Southeast Kansas Interlocal in Cherokee and Pittsburg, before joining the faculty at PSU this fall.

It was her role as a school psychologist that she began seeing extreme cases of poverty and neglect.

“I saw it in ways I hadn’t seen it before,” she said. “It really sparked something.”

3 Degrees

“I was always coming home from work crying,” she said. “Kids I served didn’t have shoes, clothes — they would wear the same thing every single day.”

Cobos enjoys fashion, with a special love for business casual attire, and when remodeling a home a few years ago converted a small room into a closet.

“I was sitting in that room one afternoon and got a call from a social worker asking if I knew of anyone who would take a kid in for a few nights,” she said. “I remember sitting in that room crying, and I looked up and saw the clothes so neatly displayed, and I had a moment of feeling lucky and selfish at the same time.”

In that moment, she found inspiration: to start selling clothing and then donate the profits to help children.

“One thing led to the next, and I started selling them online,” she said.

The concept and her site caught the attention of stores at Oak Park Mall and the Plaza in Kansas City.

Cobos began doing pop-ups at businesses here in Pittsburg, buying carefully curated business casual outfits wholesale and reselling them at places like The Beauty Bar.

“Women who were coming in to see what I have were so happy I was providing this to Pittsburg,” she said.

When Revel Boutique closed its doors at 810 N. Broadway, Cobos couldn’t sleep.

“I reached out to the previous owner and the property owner and they were both so helpful and gracious,” she said. “Within hours, I had an agreement.”

A storefront for 3 Degrees, a boutique specializing in “style driven workwear for the modern women,” was born.


The Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. Sept. 16 followed by a grand opening until 5 p.m.

But her dream, she said, is so much bigger than the store.

“I really would like to establish some sort of non-profit and foundation to raise money to help single mothers,” she said. “I have always had a passion for mental health awareness and to be able to give back to women and children in need.”

Cobos passes her life experiences on to her students in hopes it will help them personally and professionally. And she’s started work on yet another degree: her doctorate.

“The focus of what I do is I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for people who believed in me, and I want to give that back,” she said.

“It’s been a full circle event — now being in this position at PSU, doing what I’m doing with the store — this is why I was meant to be here. I’m so excited. Every day I walk in to work and I still can’t believe that I’m here.”

Carthage Area United Way announces campaign support from Schreiber Community Foundation

From the Carthage Area United Way

Carthage, MO. — The Carthage Area United Way announces financial support of the 2022-23 Campaign, Leading the Charge, Inspiring the Change by Schreiber Community Foundation.

The donation by Schreiber Community Foundation supports the Carthage Area United Way’s campaign to raise $300,000. The monies raised by Carthage Area United Way supports ten (10) nonprofit organizations. These local organizations provide support for our community in the areas of healthcare, prescription drugs, food, shelter, clothing, early intervention, along with mentoring and education for individuals/children/families in Jasper and Barton Counties.

The Carthage Area United Way kicked off its annual fundraising campaign on September 8, 2022. Through workplace campaigns, personal donations, and grant funding we will be able continue assisting residents in our communities. In the past year, our agencies reached over 48,000 individuals in need.

“We’re excited for the support of the Schreiber Community Foundation,” said Barbara Wright, Executive Director for the Carthage Area United Way. “When the community comes together to support one another we make the greatest impact.”

Blood Emergency Readiness Corps Marks One-year Anniversary

From the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks

Blood centers across the U.S., including Community Blood Center of the Ozarks (CBCO), the sole provider of blood, platelets, and plasma to over 40 area hospitals, are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the nation’s first emergency blood reserve. The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC) was founded in 2021 as a partnership by a group of blood centers who joined together to keep the blood supply stocked during emergencies when blood needs are high, such as during a mass-casualty event or natural disaster.

Prior to the founding of BERC, many local centers faced widespread blood shortages during COVID. By creating BERC, these blood centers helped ensure blood will always be ready and available if needed nationwide, without delays and uncertainty. Originally made up of seven partner blood centers, in the last year BERC has grown to 33 blood centers in 41 states that have committed to reserving additional units of blood on a rotating, “on call” schedule. During a blood center’s on-call weeks, the additional blood units are held in reserve, ready to be shipped in response if a critical-need scenario should arise within the BERC network.

Community Blood Center of the Ozarks became a member of BERC on March 15, 2022. As part of their on-call week and a member of the BERC Network, on May 26, 2022, Community Blood Center of the Ozarks was one of the blood centers to send blood to help a partner blood center, South Texas Blood and Tissue, meet the needs of trauma patients as a result of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The activation to send blood to Uvalde marks the fourth time since its inception in September 2021 that the BERC Network has been called upon to provide blood during a national emergency.

“CBCO has a mission to provide blood locally, but I know that in times of national crisis our donors are eager to help those in need wherever they may be,” CBCO Media Relations Representative, Michelle Teter, said. “Our involvement in BERC creates that opportunity. If local donors want to help, they can simply continue to give blood on a regular basis. Ask others to do the same. That way we will be ready if or when tragedy strikes.”

Over the last 12 months, BERC activations have been called in response to shootings with multiple victims in Memphis, Tennessee (Sept. 27, 2021); Oxford, Michigan (Dec. 1, 2021); and Uvalde, Texas (May 26, 2022), and in response to widespread damage from tornadoes in Kentucky (Dec. 11, 2021). In each instance, blood units shipped by BERC members around the country helped supplement the local blood supply in the affected region. To learn more about BERC activations see

For additional information on the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps and its members, see www.blood emergencyreadiness

North Heights Porchfest experiences huge growth in 2022 and adds many new fun and interesting features

From North Heights Porchfest

The new stuff at Porchfest this year!

Music on Food Truck Row: In keeping with the essence of Porchfest, most performances will be hosted by homeowners on their front porches! However, this year a prime few will be playing on Food Truck Row to add music to the attendee’s dining experience. Tables will be available to sit and eat while taking in the music.

The Food Truck Row band lineup is: 1:00PM Sea Hollies, 2:00PM Dr G and the Tall Man, 4:00PM Vagabond Grove and the Floating Heads and 6:00PM Route 358!

Electronic Tipping: Also new at Porchfest this year is an innovative electronic tipping system! Attendees can use their smartphone to scan a QR code, either on the performer’s personal tip jar at the venue or on the event map, to leave them a tip! Cash tips still work too!

Joplin High School Student Art: Lastly, North Heights Porchfest is going to celebrate and encourage young artists this year, thanks to a partnership with Joplin High School students! JHS art teacher and longtime Porchfest performer, Luke Smith, will task his students with creating one-of-a-kind signs for every band, duo, or solo performing this year. These signs will be displayed at each porch venue.

North Heights Porchfest, now in its 6th year, will host 15 new bands and 14 returning bands for the biggest and most diverse musical line-up since the event originated in 2017.

15 New performers include: The Jacob Austin Band, Neon from Candlelight, Whettman Chelmetts, Butterfaces, Lauren McKay, Bo Yellis, Route 358, Whitlee, Matt Long, North Main, Skoobs, Violets are Blue, Kenan & Friends, Shane Ferguson, Jason Loftin and Graham Wyly

14 Returning Performers Include: Kufara, Strolling Strings, Jonny Wood, Sea Hollies, Ukin Noodlers, Luke Smith & the Non-descript, Higher Ed, Gutter Divas, Dance Monkey Dance, Vagabond Grove and the Floating Heads, Halfway to Yellow, Justice Stiffler and Mary Parker, Dr G and the Tall Man and David Loving.

In addition, 9 returning artisans will be joined by 19 new artisan booths for the largest display of local and regional artistic talents of all kinds ever at Porchfest.

19 New artisans include: Kelli’s Knitted Menagerie (knitted animal apparel for kids), The Hanpandle (jewelry, ceramics), A1 Creations (tumblers/decals), Brittney Henderson (gourmet cotton candy, bath and body products), Crafty Raye (macrame), Spoon and Sweets (dipped chocolate cookies and drinks), Kristin Fidler (home decor), Love Knots Decor (macrame hangers), Guided Light Welding (indoor and outdoor metal decor), Tumblin’ T Leather (leather goods), Terry Goff (acrylic pour art), Magnata Inceptions (tumblers, keychains, freshies), BRB Crafts (knit and crochet items), Anne Shipman (dream catchers, jewelry), Ashley Benson (paintings, magnets, pride merch), NWA Candle Co (handmade candles), Dana Clark (crocheted items), Joplin Humane Society (adoptable dogs and unique art created by dogs). Also Kim & Sherwood Owen (plants, wood cutting boards, Columbia magnets) at 635 N Moffet.

9 Returning artisans include: Robin Cheslic (paintings), Sarah Kelly (calendars, needle minders, towels), Evangeline and Seth Kiser (pottery and ceramics), Aaron Lipe (printed items), Paul Peitzmeier (tumblers, engraved items, shirts), Jill Hallbach (jewelry, planters), Mark Neuenschwander (The Toad), Joplin High School Project Graduation Bake Sale. Also Tracy Sorensen (Aunt Tracy’s Cookies) at 538 N Moffet.

Artisan and food trucks will be centrally located on Food Truck Row on the 500 block of N Byers. Our food truck lineup includes some Joplin favorites along with some new folks!.

5 returning Food Truck favorites include: Ghetto Tacos, Blondie’s Woodfire Pizza, Smack Dabs, King’s Kettle Corn, Snowflakes Shaved Ice.

8 new Food Trucks on the Porchfest scene this year: Fat Bottomed Girls Rollin’ Diner, Slider Shack on 66, Driveway Diner BBQ, Divine Kitchen, Hershey’s Mobile Ice Cream Parlor, Mitchell’z Munchiez, Nomad Brew and Mac’s Cinnamon Rolls.

A huge thank you to all of our sponsors!

Gold Sponsors : Debbie Hutson Team Realtors, ABE Painting, New Wave Financial Advisors, Tri-State Realty Executives, Clevenger Financial, Gifted Eats, Jennifer Reaves Team Realtors and Ozark Christian College.

Silver Sponsor: Corner Greer and Associates Architectural Services

Bronze Sponsor: BHG Joplin Treatment Team

JPL children’s librarian wins Patt Behler Call-to-Conference Award

From the Joplin Public Library

Joplin Public Library is pleased to announce that Christina Matekel-Gibson, Children’s Librarian, has been awarded the Patt Behler Call-to-Conference Award. The Patt Behler Call-to-Conference Award is sponsored by the Youth Services Community of Interest (YSCI) and is offered to introduce working librarians to the activities and programs of Missouri Library Association (MLA) and YSCI and to encourage involvement and on-going participation in the professional activities of those organizations.

The grant includes payment to cover first-time membership dues for MLA (if applicable); conference registration fees; Thusnelda Schmidt Lecture and meal expenses; and an autographed copy of one of the presenter’s books.

“I am so excited to connect with librarians from all over the state to share ideas and celebrate our mutual love for libraries and literacy. I am looking forward to watching library performers at the Performers Showcase, as well as the opening keynote with Marlene Chism about moving from conflict to connection.”

This year’s conference will be held September 28-30, in Springfield, MO. The focus is on reconnection with a goal of envisioning what is next for libraries, engaging staff, and empowering patrons.

For more information, please contact Lori Crockett at 417-623-7953 (ext 1019) or Christina Matekel-Gibson at 417-623-7953 (ext 1038).

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