Helping St. Louis

A Blog About Helping Each Other

Archive for December, 2008

Ongoing Charity

Posted by Schevus on December 30, 2008

With the holidays winding to a close many people will pack away their goodwill efforts with their Christmas decorations, not to be seen again until next winter. This is very unfortunate because charities need support year round – needs do not magically disappear with the end of the year.

One of the best ways to continue contributing throughout the year is to actually become involved with an organization. It is easy to write a check around the holidays and forget about it all again until next year, but if you are on the ground helping an organization it is much harder to simply break away from that.

One of the biggest complaints when it comes to volunteering is “I don’t have the time.” Much like the case with exercising, this is almost never true. It may take some organizing of your schedule and a sacrifice of some free time, but almost everyone can make time to do something.

I say sacrifice, but that is not necessarily true. I have a lot of fun with the groups I volunteer with and that keeps me coming back. No one wants to do something they do not enjoy, so be sure to look into groups and organizations that interest you. Aside from the fun, it also feels incredibly rewarding to make a difference in someone’s life. If you have never experienced the satisfaction that comes with volunteering, I strongly encourage you to try it.

Volunteering can also offer avenues for career building or advancement (though I discourage this as a primary motivator). I am a web developer and I have been able to put those skills to use in a volunteer capacity. It is very likely that you can find an organization that is in need of someone with your skill set.

So as this year comes to a close I ask you to keep your charity out of the closet and to continue sharing it with the world. Many people need it!

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First Response Team Of America

Posted by Schevus on December 28, 2008

The First Response Team is a remarkable group of people who specialize in disaster recovery. They selflessly travel across the country to disaster sites to provide their specialized services. The team responds to hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, ice storms, floods, etc.

disaster

The First Response Team has unique equipment that allows them to tackle disasters. They have specially made grapple trucks that can clear debris and carry up to 155,000 pounds. Caterpillar loaders are also used to help in clearing debris. Support trucks provide extra tools and parts for on site equipment repair.

Grapple

The team also provides generators and water pumps – equipment that is often in short supply in severe emergencies. Each response cell also provides advanced satellite communication technology – phones, laptops, radios – to allow disaster sites to remain in contact with the outside world.

Hovercraft

In order to navigate through difficult terrain, the team has off road scout vehicles and hovercraft that allow them to get to hard to reach areas.

First Response Team Founder and President, Tad Agoglia was nominated as one of CNN’s Heroes of the Year. Here is a little about Tad from the FRT website:

Tad has worked with government officials and community leaders at Incident Command centers all across the country. Tad is able to expedite the stabilization of communities under states of emergency due to his expert ability to quickly assess widespread damage in order to construct logistical responses that put community resources to their best and most efficient use. He is often invited to lead disaster-zone response initiatives and is able to bridge communication between departments and independent entities that have no established protocol to effective collaboration.

The First Response Team is a shining example of dedication to helping others. Take a look at their website and consider supporting this worthy cause.

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St. Louis Warming Shelters

Posted by Schevus on December 23, 2008

With the extremely cold weather recently a partnership of Operation Weather Survival, the city of St. Louis, and St. Louis Public Libraries is providing warming shelters for anyone that is cold. The shelters will be open during the normal operating hours of the libraries and centers providing them.

Here is a list of shelter locations:

  • Central Express Library, 815 Olive Street, St. Louis, 63101 314-206-6755
  • St. Louis City Main Library, 1301 Olive Street, St. Louis, 63103, 314-241-2288
  • Film Library, 1415 Olive Street, St. Louis, 63103 314-241-0478
  • Southside Wellness Center – SLAAA, 3017 Park Avenue, St. Louis, 63104, 314-664-5024
  • Barr Branch Library, 1701 South Jefferson Ave. St. Louis, 63104, 314-771-7040
  • Divoll Library, 4234 North Grand Ave., St. Louis, 63107, 314-534-0313
  • Schlafly Library Branch, 225 North Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 63108, 314-367-4120
  • Union Sarah – SLAAA, 848 N. Kingshighway, St. Louis, 63108, 314-367-3153
  • Buder Library, 4401 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, 63109, 314-352-2900
  • Kingshighway Library, 2260 South Vandeventer Ave., St. Louis, 63110, 314-771-5450
  • Carondelet Senior Center – SLAAA, 6518 Michigan Ave., St. Louis, 63111, 314-353-9425
  • Carondelet Library, 6800 Michigan Ave., St. Louis, 63111, 314-752-9224
  • Grace Hill Settlement House/Patch – SLAAA, 7925 Minnesota Avenue, St. Louis, 63111, 314-584-6960
  • Cabanne Library, 1106 Union Blvd., St. Louis, 63113, 314-367-0717
  • Northside Community Center, Inc. – SLAAA, 4120 Maffitt Avenue, St. Louis, 63113, 314-531-4161
  • Wesley House – SLAAA, 4507 Lee Ave., St. Louis, 63115, 314-385-1000
  • Julia Davis Library, 4415 Natural Bridge Ave., St. Louis, 63115, 314-383-3021
  • Grand Oak Hill Community Corporation – SLAAA, 4168 Juniata Street, St. Louis, 63116, 314-865-5530
  • Bevo Area Community Improvement Corp.-SLAAA, 4705 Ridgewood, St. Louis, 63116, 314-352-0141
  • Five Star Senior Center – SLAAA, 2832 Arsenal, St. Louis, 63118, 314-664-1008
  • Carpenter Library, 3309 South Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 63118, 314- 772-6586
  • Father Tolton Senior Center – SLAAA, 1018 Baden Ave., St. Louis, 63147, 314-385-3445
  • Baden Library, 8448 Church Rd., St. Louis, 63147, 314-388-2400

Now, I understand that if you are online reading this you probably are not freezing to death. I ask that you keep this information in mind in case you see someone on the streets who probably does not know about this. Consider helping them get somewhere they can warm up – you might save a life. Many homeless shelters in the city do not allow clients to stay in the building during the day, forcing them out onto the cold streets.

You can get more information about this program, including the hours of locations, by calling 211 from a land line phone and 800-427-4626 from a cell phone.

Posted in St. Louis Charities | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Help Needed – First Volunteer!

Posted by Schevus on December 23, 2008

Shannon at All About Shannon has offered to assist with my Help Needed endeavor. Much thanks to her!

Recently I have been trying to help a few people find assistance that have posted on the St. Louis Craigslist. One of them is a 24 year old Bosnian immigrant with an ailing mother. I really hope he is able to find the help he needs. If you would like to help in any way with promoting and expanding Help Needed, just let me know.

Shannon has also shared another excellent online charity resource called Wish Upon a Hero. This organization is similar to Modest Needs which I posted about last. Wish Upon a Hero allows people to post a wish, no matter how small or large. People willing to grant, or partially grant, a wish are called Heroes. Heroes can come in the form of individuals, charities, or corporations.

Some examples of current wishes are “for baby girl clothing and a crib, ” “for $1 donations to save my house,” and “for a better Christmas for my 4 kids.” These are all small requests, and by working together we can make a big difference in the lives of many people. Please check out Wish Upon a Hero!

Posted in Help Needed, Internet Charity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Modest Needs

Posted by Schevus on December 21, 2008

Today I want to highlight an interesting online charity that I found at this post. The post itself has an excellent message, so I encourage you to take a few moments to read it. The organization is called Modest Needs.

Modest Needs provides a framework for micro-grants to be funded online. Every dollar that is donated as part of a one time donation equates to one “point.” If you sign up for recurring donations, they have a matching offer that makes each dollar worth two points.

The micro-grants serve to alleviate unexpected or short term emergency expenses such as car trouble, utility / mortgage bills, medical bills, etc. Individuals can sign up for assistance or can be recommended by participating non-profits or social workers. Each request is represented by a number of points needed and once all of the points have been funded the money is disbursed. The organization makes a significant effort to verify the legitimacy of  applications.

This organization is a very good example of people helping people. Ideally the friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. of those in need would help with expenses and this organization would not need to exist, but sadly that is not the case. For those of you looking for ways to donate, check out Modest Needs. For those of you that might be struggling, you may want to check it out as well.

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

Helping Hand Contest Results

Posted by Schevus on December 20, 2008

I have selected Lartdejournalier’s story as the winner of the Helping Hand Contest! I think both stories submitted had something of a comparable impact, but hers was more eloquently and emotionally described.

As a consolation prize for being the only other submission, I will purchase a mosquito net in Jwaire’s name through Nothing But Nets. Thank you again to the participants and those who stopped by to chime in (participate next time!). Check back for future contests!

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

Helping Hand Contest – Last Day!!

Posted by Schevus on December 19, 2008

Today is the last day for submissions to my Helping Hand Contest. I must admit that even with my meager readership I expected a few more submissions. Come on, share your goodwill stories! I know you have at least one! Currently there are only two submissions, so if you do participate there is a good chance you could win the $25 Kiva gift certificate.

Today is also the last day for this event. Stop over and leave a comment if you have not already and $1 will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. Thanks to those who have participated and weighed in on both events!

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Missouri 2-1-1

Posted by Schevus on December 17, 2008

I have discovered an impressive service offered by the St. Louis Area United Way called Missouri 2-1-1. Basically, anyone in most MO counties can dial 211 on a land line phone and will be connected with a United Way representative 24 / 7. If calling from a cell phone the number is 800-427-4626.

Through this service individuals can receive assistance in several areas. This is the list of services outlined on the website:

Basic Human Needs

  • Food pantries
  • Shelters
  • Rent
  • Utility assistance

Physical and Mental Health Resources

  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Pre-natal care
  • Crisis intervention
  • Support groups
  • Counseling
  • Alcohol and drug rehabilitation

Work Initiatives

  • Educational and vocational training programs
  • English as a second language classes
  • Job training
  • General Educational Development (GED) preparation
  • Financial and transportation assistance

Support for Seniors and those with Disabilities

  • Agencies on aging
  • Centers for independent living
  • Adult day care
  • Meals at home
  • Respite care
  • Home health care
  • Transportation and recreation

Support for Children Youth and Families

  • After-school programs
  • Tutoring
  • Mentorship programs
  • Family resource centers
  • Protective services
  • Counseling
  • Early childhood learning programs
  • Child care referral centers
  • Recreation

Volunteering

  • Volunteer centers
  • Mentorship opportunities
  • Locations to donate food
  • Clothing, furniture, computers and other items
  • One-time, long-term, permanent, part-time or group volunteering opportunities

Needless to say, this is a pretty comprehensive list. I have not tried this service personally, but it does appear to be pretty commendable. Does anyone have experience with this?

UPDATE:

I found this article about 2-1-1 from the St. Louis Post Dispatch. I was also contacted by a United Way representative who will be forwarding me relevant charitable information! =)

Posted in St. Louis Charities | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Stories of Despair

Posted by Schevus on December 16, 2008

I have been browsing through the St. Louis Craigslist and the increase in the number of desperate stories of need is quite depressing. I would like to share a few posts to highlight the true nature of the economic downturn:

Hi
I know everyone is having a rough time this season. We are as well.I lost my job and my husband is laid off, I found a new job but I will not get paid until 1/2/09. That will be too late. We are behind on all of our bills and are about to lose our home.
We have 5 children and we really need help getting them Christmas presents.
They just need the necessary things loke socks, shoes,warm clothes and food.
They have gone without a lot lately but still stand tall.
I can pay someone back once I get paid.
My husband is a great carpenter and can do and type of construction work. He has great references. He was in an accident in October so that left him wothout a truck. But he can use my car.
Please have the heart to help us, I promise someday that I will return the favor and help someone else.

A Santaless Christmas in not something I want to remember as part of their childhood.

Thanks

http://stlouis.craigslist.org/vol/959618939.html

As another blogger I was reading mentioned recently, posts requesting socks and shoes are unlikely to be a scam. Here is another example:

CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME, IM GOING TO BE HOMELESS NEXT MONTH I HAVE LOST MY JOB AND I DONT HAVE A PENNY..I’M ALSO TAKING CARE OF MY MOTHER AND SHES SICK SHE CAN’T WORK AND I CANT FINE A JOB.. I HAVE APPLYD FOR FOODSTAMPS AND CASH ASSISTANCE I’V BEEN DECLINED FOR BOTH BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE ANY KIDS PLEASE SOMEBODY OUT THERE HELP ME I HAVEN’T EATEN A REAL MEAL IN 3 MONTHS I DONT HAVE ANY FAMILY AND NOBODY CARES ABOUT ME OR MY MOTHER I AM REALLY DEPRESSED AND DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO SO IM JUST GONNA TRY THIS I DOUBT IT’S GONNA HELP TOUGH.. BUT IF THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE THAT IS DOING FINANCIALLY WELL PLEASE I NEED FOOD AND MONEY PLEASE PLEASE 😦 JCCALLAHAN1@YAHOO.COM

http://stlouis.craigslist.org/vol/953645372.html

It really is unfortunate how our government assistance systems work. This is a very real problem – if you do not have children the government will quite often turn a deaf ear to your problems. Here is one last story:

Its almost Christmas and we have tried everything in order for our children to have something under the tree. However to no avail we have failed to do so. However my son have informed me that Santa will still be comming this year and although sometimes he was bad this year…that he believes that Santa will still come because he has tried so hard. Sooo there we have our family delima.
If anyone could help with maybe a gift card or something. I dont know how this works but we are a family where my husband works seasonal. And Im disabled so it sucks what else can I say.

http://stlouis.craigslist.org/vol/956946087.html

These are just a few of the desperate pleas for help that I have read through, and that is just for the St. Louis postings. I would help every one of these people, but that is just not in my power. If you are in the St. Louis area and are looking to make a difference in someone’s life this Christmas, please consider investigating one of these posts. If you are out of the area, take a look on your own Craigslist site and read some of the stories of despair in your area. It is a very eye-opening experience.

Please use caution when conducting business on the internet – there is always the possibility it is a scam, but some common sense is normally good enough to root those out. Let’s all take care of each other this Christmas and beyond!

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St. Louis Area Food Assistance

Posted by Schevus on December 14, 2008

I have written extensively so far about various activities to help those in need. I have been getting a steady stream of search result hits looking for assitance, so I want to start covering some resources for those in need.

Food is probably the most basic human need. With the tough economic times people are forced to make impossible decisions. Do you buy food or pay the bills? Do you eat or do your children eat? Therefore food assistance is vital for many people.

Unfortunately food pantries are stretched to the breaking point, so if you are in a position to be able to donate I encourage you to do so. For those in the St. Louis area you can find information about donating or volunteering here. For those elsewhere, I encourage you to look at Feeding America.

However, if you are actually in need of food there are many locations that provide assistance (hopefully you can find one that is not completely exhausted). If you live in Missouri you can find a list of locations here. If you live in Illinois, you can find a list here.

If you live in the St. Louis area and have investigated these lists and are still unable to provide food for your family please leave a comment or email me at schevus [at] gmail [dot] com. Even if you do not live in the area, feel free to contact me and I will try to help you find resources in your area. I will not sit idly by as people go hungry!

Posted in St. Louis Charities | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »