Helping St. Louis

A Blog About Helping Each Other

Archive for January, 2009

Lend A Hand

Posted by Schevus on January 28, 2009

I was awoken early today by a frantic call from my sister-in-law. She was coming home from work and her little Dodge Neon was stuck in the snow trying to get into our back alley. I live in southern Illinois and we currently have about 8″+ of snow. We don’t get much snow normally, so 8″ in two days is a lot. On top of that the city does not plow or treat the side streets or alleys, so it is literally like off-roading to navigate them.

So, I donned my warmest winter garb and trudged down the alley to help dislodge her. The main issue was that she could not make it into our alley to park and the side of the street out front was packed with plowed snow. When I made it to her car another guy had stopped and he helped me push her car to turn her around. I was very grateful to have the help. As my sister-in-law made her way back up to the front street I waited to make sure my helper could get his own car out to the main street without assistance.

When I got out front she had tried to force her way into the plowed snow and was stuck again. I managed to push her out of that and we cleared enough snow to be able to get her parked. As this massive winter storm rolls across the country I just want to issue a reminder to look out for those around you. If someone is stuck and needs help, consider helping them. I am sure they will be very grateful, and you could save them the exorbitant cost of a tow truck coming out. Thank you anonymous stranger!

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New Addition

Posted by Schevus on January 24, 2009

Since my wife has been back from her deployment we have added a new addition to the family. We adopted a 2 1/2 year old Brittany Spaniel mix from the Belleville Area Humane Society on Wednesday. He has been dubbed Scout. Here are some pictures of him when we were visiting at the Humane Society.

Scout and Eva

My wife Eva and Scout

Kaylee, Eva, and Scout

Kaylee (our Cocker Spaniel), Eva, and Scout

Eva and Scout

Scout

Unfortunately Scout has some intestinal worms so his body weight is really low. When we found him at the shelter he had only been there a couple of days and was very nervous and shaky. He was not keeping food down, and the workers there had to tinker with food combinations that he could tolerate. Right now he is eating a mix of Alpo canned chicken dog food and Moist and Meaty dog food. He is on medication and should make a full recovery in his new home.

In addition to picking Scout up, we also donated about $130 of supplies to the Humane Society. We donated dog treats and raw hides, cat treats, cat toys, kongs with peanut butter, and cleaning supplies. In addition we discovered that they accept aluminum cans so they can profit from recycling them. This works well with my new recycling scheme. Unfortunately the Society does not have a wish list on their website, but if you are interested you can let me know or contact them.

The realization of just how hard animal shelters are faring became quite real during the time we spent there. I overheard many phone calls of people looking to drop off pets only to be denied because of lack of space. If you are thinking about a new pet, please consider adopting. Also, if you are looking to get involved, shelters are always happy to have volunteers. You can find information about volunteering at BAHS here.

Posted in Animal Shelters | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Shalom Outreach Society Meeting Results

Posted by Schevus on January 16, 2009

We had an excellent meeting last night, with near full attendance from our members. There is much to do for Tri-Ball-Athon 2009, but everything seems much more relaxed this year as we are able to start much earlier than we were last year.

I need to call the parks department to see about getting a field reservation. Hopefully it is not as much hassle as it was last year. We are concerned about getting sponsorship money with the tough economic times, so we will be holding some of our meetings at “targeted” locations to try to influence them to become sponsors.

Our next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 on 12 Feb at Jefferson Bistro. Anyone who is interested in joining (or who might just want to check us out) is welcome to come. This is a social meeting, so it will be a good time for new members to relax and get to know everyone. If you are looking for a fun way to get involved in the community come by and have some good, cheap food and a drink or two.

In addition to planning for Tri-Ball-Athon, we are also looking at doing a service event for the clients at Shalom House. This will provide a good way for Outreach Society members to get to know the clients and really get a feel for what all of our hard work is going toward.

As always, if you are interested or have any questions about Shalom Outreach Society or Shalom House do not hesitate to ask me.

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Feeling Idle

Posted by Schevus on January 14, 2009

I have been feeling idle lately as far as my charitable efforts are concerned. I really feel like I need to DO something. This presents something of a problem because my wife returns from her deployment on Friday and I am sure I will want to spend plenty of time with her. On top of that my commitments for Shalom Outreach Society will be increasing dramatically soon as we ramp up for Tri-Ball-Athon 2009.

I feel this way periodically and I am not really sure why. I suppose I read scores of stories of people struggling and suffering and it just continues to build until I feel like I have to do something about it. Normally I can find a way to channel my energies positively, but with my unique constraints currently, nothing is coming to me.

I have been considering gathering and distributing sandwiches / snacks and possibly throw blankets to the homeless downtown, but I think that will take more time to organize and accomplish than a day and a half – though I will probably do this sometime in the near future. I really feel like I want more personal time actually on the ground.

So, any ideas?

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

Small Green Changes

Posted by Schevus on January 13, 2009

I am far from being a “green” fanatic or anything like that. I do not have grass growing on my roof and I do not limit my showers to a minute and half. That said, I have recently made some small changes to try to limit my negative impact on the world itself.

My changes happened when I resolved to use only one paper towel to dry my hands at work instead of two. We have automatic dispensers, so it does not give you a very large sheet, but if you are conscious about how you dry your hands one will do the job. I would say 90% of the people I see use two. This is most certainly a small change, but the paper saved is adding up daily.

This got me thinking about the economic repercussions of using fewer paper towels. If I use less, that is less that my company / the custodial company has to buy which saves them money. However, that means that the company that produces / sells the paper towels is losing money. If everyone dropped from two towels to one, that would be a significant economic impact on that company. I have no real point here, just thought it was interesting to trace the impact of even small actions.

Apart from my musings, I have also started sorting cans and plastic bottles to be recycled. I have a bag of each collected so far and need to make the trip to drop them off. I drink a fair bit of soda, and also a lot of bottled water (sorry greenies, I prefer the taste – at least I am recycling now?), so this is a moderate change I would say. I am thinking about also sorting glass. Maybe I will do that when we are in our new house.

Finally, I have made the switch to compact florescent light bulbs (not completely, but I have taken the plunge). I have thought about this for some time, but I really do not like the light that they put out. I am suffering through with less light rather than adding more or brighter bulbs for now.

Will these changes make a huge impact on a large scale? No, but hopefully they are adding to the larger pool. Have you made any green changes?

Posted in Misc | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Youth Investment

Posted by Schevus on January 12, 2009

When I was in school (not all that long ago, despite how long it feels to me), there was not a big push from faculty to get kids involved in the community. All we had was a senior project that was supposed to be – but not required to be – civic in nature. I was not really active in my community until I joined the Air Force and was exposed to its “whole person” concept.

I realize that many schools were probably better than mine at promoting community involvement, but I think it is important that all schools plant the seed in the minds of students. Many colleges currently require community activity, and even more strongly recommend it. With Obama’s ideas about furthering civic investment in return for educational incentives, volunteerism among college students is likely to increase substantially.

As I have mentioned before, America’s youth offers a deep well of potential for community building. Additionally, those who learn the value of charity as kids are more likely to continue with it into adulthood. Volunteering is also a good way for youth to build valuable skills such as leadership, teamwork, innovation, etc.

Do Something is a site targeted toward teens to get them involved in their communities. This is an excellent resource for parents, teachers, or teens themselves who are looking for ideas. The site offer easy ideas and guides for many areas of interest including  animal welfare, disaster relief,  discrimination, education, the environment, poverty, and more.

Do you know of any other good resources for teens or kids interested in community involvement?

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Stories From The Homeless

Posted by Schevus on January 7, 2009

I have found a unique series of video interviews with more than a dozen homeless people. The series is called Invisible People. Watching and listening to the stories of these individuals gives you an inside look at homeless life and all of the problems and issues they face. At the end of many interviews, the interviewer asks the homeless person if they had three wishes what they would wish for. Many of the answers will surprise you!

I have a couple of other tidbits to pass along on this topic. I have also recently found the blog of a 16 year old girl who is chronicling the story of her and her mother being evicted from their apartment and struggling with sudden homelessness. Her blog is Anywhere But Here. Because of her blog, their plight has achieved national news coverage and many people across the country have committed to helping her and her mother. This is a heartening story of the good the online community can do.

Lastly, a fellow wordpress blogger has been sharing the contents of a journal written by another homeless teen found in an abandoned house in Canada. Her blog is Bittersweet Dish. She has a couple of posts stuck to the top of her blog, so you will need to scroll down past those to get to the journal posts.  Some of the contents of the journal are graphic and very emotionally taxing, so fair warning.

Check out these resources for an eye-opening look at homeless life. If you are not moved to aid this cause after doing so, I would be very surprised.

Posted in Homeless | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

First 2009 Shalom Outreach Society Meeting

Posted by Schevus on January 6, 2009

This Thursday at 6:30 will be our first meeting of 2009. If you are interested in Shalom House or the Shalom Outreach Society, let me know and I will be happy to provide all the information you could want.

UPDATE: This meeting has been postponed to Thursday 15 Jan at 6:30.

At this meeting we will begin discussing initial plans for Tri-Ball-Athon 2009. Tri-Ball-Athon consists of kickball, volleyball, and bocce ball and will be held Saturday May 30th at Forest Park (field location TBD). Teams of up to 10 are accepted.

Food and beverages (adult and otherwise) are available with proceeds going to Shalom House.

Here are some pictures from Tri-Ball-Athon 2008:

Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Food and Beverages

Food and beverages available for purchase

Kickball

Kickball

Bocce Ball

Bocce Ball

Volleyball

Volleyball

Posted in Shalom Outreach Society, St. Louis Charities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »