Helping St. Louis

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Archive for the ‘St. Louis Charities’ Category

St. Louis – Education

Posted by Schevus on February 4, 2009

All too often when talking about the declining quality of education in America public schools take the lion’s share of the blame. Certainly there are many aspects of public schools that could be improved, but ultimately many of the shortcomings of our youth’s education are caused by parents. This point is one that President Obama makes regularly. No matter the quality of the school a child goes to, if the parents are not actively involved there is no guarantee that the child will be engaged and productive at that school.

I know that many families are single parent homes with the parent struggling just to make ends meet, let alone being able spend enough time involved with their children’s schoolwork or activities. I think if you absolutely cannot devote time to your children’s education then it is important to get them involved in a program that will serve to fill that role. There are many varied mentorship and after school programs that serve this purpose. If you need help finding one, please leave a comment and I will try to help.

Getting back to public schools, as I said there are definitely problems that need to be addressed. Many public schools are underfunded, which can result in loss of extra-curricular activities, lack of basic supplies, outdated equipment and books, or in some cases not even enough books for all students. It is pretty obvious to anyone that students need some basic amenities for education to be really successful. In many cases teachers spend large amounts of money out of pocket so that their students have the supplies they need. Obviously this burden should not fall on the shoulders of teachers.

Aside from material issues, public schools are often accused of dumbing down the curriculum. This is normally blamed on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Basically the act states that students must progressively do better on standardized tests from year to year or the school will lose funding and face reforms to “get back on track.” Taking away funding from schools that are not “performing well” seems incredibly foolish to me, but I digress.

Based on these guidelines and fear of lost funding, many schools are accused of “teaching to the test,” rather than actually trying to educate students. Certainly curriculums must be tailored so that they focus on the information covered by the test, and this might limit flexibility.

In an effort to bring back some flexibility, the charter school movement was born. Charter schools are granted a charter to operate in a more unique way or to target certain special needs or at risk groups. Charter schools have their proponents and critics (I happen to be an ardent supporter), but one key point is that they are still open to the general public and still fall under the NCLB act.

After a cursory search, it does not look like St. Louis currently has more than a few charter schools. A friend of mine is currently in the process of setting up a new charter school called the Active Minds Institute.

So, what can we do to improve the quality of education in St. Louis? I have already mentioned what I feel is the most important solution, which is increased parent involvement. Every parent has the ability to improve the education of their children by taking the time to work with them. They also can improve situations at the school by becoming involved in PTA/PTO groups or simply by opening lines of communication with teachers and staff. Schools often welcome volunteers for various activities.

You can become involved in the charter school community by joining a committee at Active Minds, or even starting your own charter school.  Charter schools almost always welcome donations to improve their programs and also normally appreciate volunteers.

If you are interested in donating, but would prefer to improve the public school system, you can donate to the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation. Here is their mission statement from their website:

The St. Louis Public Schools Foundation seeks to fund projects and activities with a measurable impact on academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and the successful transition to post-secondary goals, such as college or entry into the workforce to ensure that each student has the opportunity to become a productive citizen.

Finally, you can volunteer for a mentorship, tutoring, or after school program designed to help at risk or underprivileged children. I have participated in these programs in the past and they are extremely beneficial for the participants. I will do some further research and try to highlight some of these programs in the St. Louis area in a future post.

If we work together we can make our education system better and keep it from continuing its slide compared to other developed nations. Our future depends on it.

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Posted in St. Louis, St. Louis Charities | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

World AIDS Day

Posted by Schevus on December 1, 2008

As I am sure you have heard, today is World AIDS Day. AIDS continues to ravage Africa and is an ever-present concern for anyone, no matter where you live. Here in the St. Louis area, there are several organizations devoted to dealing with AIDS and supporting those who suffer from it.

Doorways is an organization that focuses on housing for those affected by HIV/AIDS, but which offers other services as well. Their signature facility offers housing for 36 individuals who are unable to live independently as a result of HIV/AIDS. Doorways has many ways to get involved as a volunteer. I almost ended up volunteering with them myself when I was seeking opportunities in the homeless spectrum last year, but unfortunately I just did not have the time to devote to another organization. That said, if you are able, I encourage you to get involved.

Another organization in the area is St. Louis Effort For AIDS. I do not have personal experience with this group, but they seem to offer a broad range of support programs for those affected by AIDS, including a unique program which helps AIDS sufferers keep and care for their pets. They also offer education and information about the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Like Doorways, SLEFA also has several opportunities to help in a volunteer capacity.

On a larger scale, one of the organizations doing a lot of good for those suffering from HIV/AIDS is the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation has made great strides in providing anti-retroviral medication at incredibly discounted prices in Africa and elsewhere. This has given 1.4 million people access to these life saving drugs who would not have been able to afford them otherwise. Aside from HIV/AIDS, the Clinton Foundation also has several other notable programs.

I figured I would provide some information in the spirit of World AIDS Day. Please leave a comment if you know of any other good resources, either in the the St. Louis area or elsewhere. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

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