Helping St. Louis

A Blog About Helping Each Other

Archive for November, 2008

Shalom Outreach Society

Posted by Schevus on November 26, 2008

One of the organizations that I am most active with in St. Louis is the Shalom House Women’s Shelter. Shalom House (formerly known as Metro Homeless Center) provides emergency and transitional housing for homeless women suffering from chemical dependency, substance abuse, and mental health issues. For more information on Shalom House itself, you can visit their website.

Most of the supporters, financial or otherwise, of Shalom House are older and aging. This is true of many of the charities in the city and around the country. Because of this, the staff wanted to find a way to build investment in the organization with younger people in order to provide continuity of support when the older supporters pass on.  Thus, the Shalom Outreach Society was created.

The idea of the the Outreach Society is to bring young professionals together in a more social atmosphere in order to promote advocacy for the shelter, and further build interest among the younger population. The society has a very informal structure, without the designated roles that are found in most similar organizations. We share and rotate the responsibilities of facilitating meetings, attending board meetings for the shelter, etc. This allows everyone to build their leadership abilities, and prevents single points of failure.

The Outreach Society sponsors fund raising events targeting young people to benefit the shelter. Our signature event, which went well this year despite a fast moving weather cell, is the Tri-Ball-Athon. This event consists of teams of up to 10 participating in kickball, volleyball, and bocce ball. There is also music and food and drink vendors, with proceeds going to Shalom House. Next year (2009) Tri-Ball-Athon will be held May 30th in Forest Park.

In addition to Tri-Ball-Athon, the Outreach Society also sponsors at least one other fundraising event a year. This past Thursday we had an awesome happy hour event at Newstead Tower Public House. They graciously donated 25% of all proceeds to Shalom House. We haven’t got totals back yet, but we had a packed house and a great time was had by all.

If you are interested in the Shalom Outreach Society please drop me a note. We are a very friendly and enjoyable group and are ALWAYS looking for new members. Also, please share any stories of organizations for young people that you know of or are a part of (even if they aren’t in St. Louis!!).

Note: Shalom House and the Shalom Outreach Society have no Jewish connection. I’m not saying anything would be wrong with that, just clarifying because that is often a point of confusion.

Posted in Shalom Outreach Society | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Holiday Gift Ideas

Posted by Schevus on November 25, 2008

I’m sure gift ideas are on everyone’s mind as Christmas draws inexorably closer. If you are interested in a gift that will have a real impact, consider these ideas.

Kiva Gift Certificate:

For those of you who don’t know, Kiva is a wonderful online micro-lending organization. Individuals loan money in increments of $25 to entrepreneurs in developing parts of the world to help them expand their businesses. This allows them to better provide for their families and increases the local economy, improving their country from the ground up. These loans are disbursed through local partners at much lower interest rates than traditional loans, which are often prohibitive for extremely poor entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, Kiva has amazingly low rates of default and delinquency.

Kiva has a partnership with PayPal, so 100% of your loan goes to the entrepreneur. As the loan is repaid, you are free to re-loan the money you get back, or reclaim it. I have personally made 5 Kiva loans, and my earliest was just recently paid back in full! It’s rare to find a way to help financially that isn’t just a donation.

Heifer International Gift:

Heifer International (HI) is a unique effort to end global hunger. Through HI people pay to donate livestock and other developmental aids, such as trees and honeybees, to developing communities. The unique thing about Heifer International is that the recipients agree to share the offspring of donated animals with others who are in need. This is a very literal example of paying it forward.

You can pay for a gift (or part of a gift) through HI and make the donation in someone’s name. HI provides several options of gift cards when making a donation, whether it be an e-card or a physical card. I have not yet had the opportunity to donate through HI, but I have been eying a flock of chicks (only $20) for a couple of months now, so I’m sure it won’t be much longer.

Mosquito Net:

With a donation of only $10 you can donate a mosquito net, pesticide, and instruction on how to use it through Nothing But Nets. Nothing But Nets is a partnership with the UN Foundation. A mosquito net is the proven best method to prevent Malaria. Malaria is transmitted when a carrier mosquito bites an infected individual and then bites a non-infected individual, giving them the disease. It is one of the biggest health epidemics in Africa and parts of South America and Asia. A bed net works in two ways. It physically stops the disease carrying mosquito from biting a healthy individual. Also, the nets are soaked with a pesticide, which kills the mosquito when it lands on the net.

Due to the unique transmission of Malaria, many lives can be saved with one bed net. First there are the 2 or 3 people who may sleep under the net. How many more might be saved from the disease that might be carried from those 2 or 3 people should they be infected?

If you purchase a net through Nothing But Nets, you can designate your gift in honor of someone, and send an e-card to them letting them know of your gift.

These are just a few examples of excellent gifts you could give that would make a tremendous difference in someone’s life. Do you have any other good suggestions?

Posted in Holiday Help, Internet Charity | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Not So Happy Holidays?

Posted by Schevus on November 25, 2008

The holidays are a season of togetherness and festivity, but with unemployment rapidly on the rise, for many these holidays will not be filled with joy. I was browsing the St. Louis Craigslist and found the following post:

“Thank you for taking the time to view this. I am a married father of three wonderful children, ages 2(g), 4(b), and 8(g). I was recently laid off and trying to get unemployment has been impossible. As the sole provider, you can imagine how rough things are getting. I’ve already had my vehicle repossessed and so yeah, just not sure what to do now…..Please don’t take this as begging for your stuff. I’ve never been in a situation like this; holidays are coming and we’ve already cut back so much; no idea how or where to cut more corners to have a nice holiday season so any help, ideas or suggestions are ABSOLUTELY appreciated. Once again, thank you so much for your time.

sincerely,

humbled hero of 3….

Go Cards!! It’s cold here in st. louis right now. Rams are playing the Bears. (so you know this is real…..supposedly lots of scams?) thanks again”

I’m sure some of you are thinking “that’s a scam,” and it may well be. Obviously some care must be taken when engaging with people over the internet. I am fortunate enough to be in a very secure position financially, and pending a conversation with my wife I may contact this individual to see what I might be able to do to help. If you are interested, the link is http://stlouis.craigslist.org/vol/930885113.html.

Regardless of the medium, this is just a sample of the countless hard luck stories that are doubtless out there this holiday season. Do you know someone who is in dire straights? Can you do something to help them? Will you? Are you yourself having a harder time making the holidays special? Please share your stories. Who knows, someone might be able to help!

Posted in Holiday Help | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Helping St. Louis

Posted by Schevus on November 25, 2008

Hello! This blog will serve as my sounding board and shameless advertising medium for various charitable and simple goodwill endeavors in and around the city of St. Louis. I have been very invested in building my community for several years now and I find it incredibly rewarding. With the election of Barack Obama, and his repeated call for increased public service – coupled with the energy that young people have had for his campaign and his ideas – I am hopeful that much more good can and will be done in the years to come. I hope to join and help that movement with this blog and my continued efforts to make the country and the world a better place.

This blog will be focused around St. Louis (and the surrounding area – I’m from the Metro East), but there will be plenty of content for those of you not in the area. As well as local matters, I will also discuss regional, national, and global efforts and organizations.

My recent volunteer endeavors have focused on homeless outreach. I actively support a shelter for homeless women with chemical dependence and mental health issues. In addition to that, however, I also will be assisting with the set-up of a new charter school, as well as being involved with Rebuilding Together, various food and clothing drives, Meals-On-Wheels, animal shelters, and other charitable areas.

I think it is especially important for young people to be involved in their community, because as an age group we are historically more apathetic. If we can tap into the almost limitless resource of ideas and energy that the young population possesses, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

I look forward to our conversation and dialog!

Note: I am an incredibly busy person, and I will desperately try to keep this blog updated regularly. If you happen to like what you see, but would like more content, or would like it more often, feel free to drop me a note. Prodding always helps!

Posted in Misc | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »