Helping St. Louis

A Blog About Helping Each Other

Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

What’s up with mocking the homeless?

Posted by Schevus on March 25, 2009

I normally do not like to draw attention to bad posts, but this post pushed me over the edge on this topic. I realize this post is intentionally overblown and inflammatory, but I have seen several serious posts along this line recently. When did it become popular to publicly disparage and spout hatred against the homeless?

The big issue lately concerns homeless people having cell phones. Apparently some people view this as the most egregious offense a homeless person can commit. Let us evaluate some realities:

  • Homeless people do not have a home! Therefore, they cannot have a land-line phone. If they have a job, it is often important for them to have a way to be reached and since they cannot have a land-line, a cell phone is the other alternative. If they are seeking a job, it is also critical for potential employers to be able to contact them. This can be done through shelters and other social service agencies, but often employers are wise to this and may be prejudiced not to select a homeless person for a position.
  • Being homeless is dangerous! Violent crime rates are extremely high amongst the homeless population. In addition to this, the health of homeless people is generally poorer than normal. Thus it is important to be able to summon help in the case of a medical or other emergency. Having a cell phone also enables homeless people to stay in touch with social services, making their transition off of the streets easier.
  • Some families will provide a cell phone to a homeless family member in order to be able to stay in contact with them.

As you can see there are very real, practical reasons for a homeless person to have a phone.

I also find the derogatory and stereotypical attacks on homeless people in that post to be absolutely disgusting. This is one of the most vulnerable groups of the population, and includes a large (and growing) number of families and children, not just “hobos, winos and bums.” The homeless need and deserve our help, not disdain, stereotypes, and insults.

Posted in Homeless | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

BBQ and Desert

Posted by Schevus on March 23, 2009

Yesterday I and other members of the Shalom Outreach Society served a dinner for the women at Shalom House. We served lasagna, salad, and garlic bread and everything turned out great. I sat with a couple of the ladies while they were eating and one of the women spoke with me about the normal course of meals they get at the shelter.

Apparently they get plenty of cheap frozen pizza, hot dogs, and, yes, frozen lasagna. If we had known this we would certainly have picked a different meal! The one exception to this poor variety of food seems to be Thursdays when a church group comes in and makes a better meal. The woman expressed to me that what the ladies would really like is some BBQ food – and desert.

I was struck by such a simple request, and I think a BBQ is something I really want to make happen before summer is over. I know that many of the ladies are diabetic, so that is probably why they do not get much by way of desert.

She also shared with me her difficulty in finding employment. She does not have a high school diploma or GED and she told me how at job fairs everyone is talking about resumes. Somehow I do not think that a resume is all that practical for someone who has not graduated high school and whose last job was working at Burger King. Perhaps someone should organize a job fair for lower wage practical jobs? Have any of you heard of such a thing?

Despite serving a meal the women get regularly they were very appreciative and thankful for us being there. It was a great experience to work personally with the clients!

Posted in Shalom Outreach Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Building Relationships

Posted by Schevus on March 10, 2009

My family and I have a friend who is currently deployed to Afghanistan for the Air Force. Of course we send him care packages to remind him of home and to make his experience a little better, but with the next package we plan to take it a little farther. I asked him if there were any particular items that the locals needed and he discussed it with the humanitarian officer and determined that currently school supplies are in demand.

Fortunately we had a cache of school supplies from our last stockpiling when they were on sale for the back to school season. We will be sending pens, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, and paper. The weight of the paper will likely make the shipping cost a bit high, but such is life.

The soldiers in Afghanistan distribute these kinds of humanitarian items on their patrols as a way to build relationships and trust with the local Afghanis, as well as to make life a little easier and better for them. As I think most people have come to understand now, Afghanistan will not be won militarily, but rather with more productive nation-building techniques (and better government). I like to think that these small humanitarian donations assist that process in a very small way.

I am pleased to be sending school supplies because as I have mentioned many times in my blog, I think education plays a crucial role in the development of any country. If I can help a few Afghani children make it through their schooling, perhaps they will decide to become engineers,  government officials, or teachers rather than falling prey to fundamentalist ideology.

I realize that children need help here at home too, but I think that devoting some resources toward ending the conflict in Afghanistan is also a worthy endeavor. It will be a benefit for our youth not to have an ever lingering conflict to deal with when they grow up.

If you are interested in donating items – either to troops or Afghani locals – but do not know how, leave a comment and let me know.

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

Third Friday Event Pictures

Posted by Schevus on March 1, 2009

The Third Friday event for the Shalom Outreach Society went great! There were dozens of people in attendance watching live glassblowing demonstrations and browsing the glass and art displays. We had the opportunity to share information about Shalom House and the Outreach Society with many people.

Third Friday

The great folks at Third Degree did a live auction for a glass piece as it was being made with the proceeds benefiting Shalom House. The winning bid was $140. I would have had this post up sooner, but I was waiting for the pictures of the finished product. Here is a photo timeline of the piece as it was being made (sorry the quality is not the best):

Auction Piece

Auction Piece
Auction Piece

Auction Piece

Auction Piece

Auction Piece
Finished Product

The Third Friday event was a lot of fun and I recommend it if you are looking at something different to do with a Friday night. There is talk that we may be present at future events as well, so look for us!

Posted in Shalom Outreach Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Kiva Loan

Posted by Schevus on February 27, 2009

I had $18 sitting in my Kiva account, so I threw in $7 to make a new loan. I have been considering this for about a week now, but until I looked today every single loan listed had been fully funded. I find this very exciting as it means the level of support for Kiva is tremendous. I hope they and their partners are able to continue to expand their operations to continue to meet the increased demand for donation options.

This loan is my sixth loan to Kiva and my first loan to a group of entrepreneurs. I used to be irrationally wary of loaning to the groups on Kiva, but after reading Muhammad Yunus’ Banker to the Poor I have been converted to the lending group idea. Every member of the group is accountable and responsible for not only their loan, but also every other member’s loan. They must support and encourage each other to ensure that their loans are paid back appropriately.

I decided to loan to this group of women in Pakistan. Pakistan is a region plagued by problems and I feel that improving local conditions and economies can only bring good to the country. If a family is able to provide for themselves legitimately, they will be less likely to turn to illegal means to do so.

There appears to be a swath of new loans available today on Kiva, so I encourage you to take a look and consider donating.

Posted in Internet Charity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Shalom Outreach Society Event

Posted by Schevus on February 19, 2009

The Shalom Outreach Society is holding a promotional event at the Third Friday event at Third Degree Glass Factory this Friday 20 February from 6 – 10 PM. There will be Outreach Society members on hand to provide information about the group and Shalom House and to answer any questions. Information about Tri-BALL-Athon 2009 will also be available. There may be a Third Degree item up for raffle or small items available for purchase with proceeds benefiting Shalom House (exact details to be determined).

Third Friday is a social evening event that involves “glassblowing and flameworking demonstrations, glass art by Third Degree artists for sale in the HotShop Gift Gallery, live music, art exhibits in the Third Degree East Gallery.” Music this Friday will be provided by the Local Gents. There will also be artwork on display from the faculty of the St. Louis University Department of Fine and Performing Arts.

Stop by and have some fun and find out more about the Shalom Outreach Society.

Posted in Shalom Outreach Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Supporting Education With Comments

Posted by Schevus on February 18, 2009

I feel that education is the cornerstone for significantly improving St. Louis and the nation, so I did not want to move on from it quite yet. With smarter, better prepared youth coming out of our schools there is no limit to the advancements and progression we might see. Because of this importance, I wanted to offer an easy tangible way for you and I to support the education system. Thus the Supporting Education With Comments event.

What I would like you to do is leave a comment sharing a positive or negative experience you have had with a school, teacher, student, or the education system. If it is a negative experience, what might be done to improve the situation? If it is positive, what might make it better still?

For every unique comment that fits this criteria, I will donate $1 to the Active Minds Institute and $1 to the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation up to $50 total (25 comments with the possibility of extension if we reach that number). Comments will be accepted until 11:59 PM central time 31 March.

I look forward to hearing your experiences!

Update:

In light of only receiving one comment submission, I have donated $10 to each charity. Thank you Nessie!

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

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 »

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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