Today, many of our most beloved social institutions have closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Though it’s crucial for families to practice social distancing by remaining at home as much as possible, that doesn’t mean that this time can’t be enjoyable. Use this newfound family time to enjoy engaging activities together.
Read below to discover some fun ways to pass the time together below:
Create something new
Hands-on activities are a necessary part of childhood development. Whether or not families are particularly “crafty” they can still participate in some fun arts and crafts projects. The fun part of these activities is bonding over the learning process. Gather the family around for an afternoon of projects ranging from simple pen and paper, to other miscellaneous items found laying around the house. Family YouTube channels like Art for Kids Hub and 5-Minute Crafts (Family) offer countless easy to follow tutorials that walk parents and kids through projects together.
Check on the animals
Though most zoos around the world have closed for the time being, families can still see what the animals are up by checking their preferred zoo’s website for animal live streams. The Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute has live webcams of their elephant, lion, panda and naked mole rat exhibits. While you eagerly anticipate your next family trip to the Saint Louis Zoo, visit their YouTube channel to watch the live stream of their penguins. Their animal care teams will share images and videos of their animals in order to #BringtheSTLZootoYou! Don’t forget to use the website’s “find your favorite animal” tool to learn all about your new favorite species.
Explore the museum
Showcasing preserved relics of the past, museums are the center of history, culture and education. Fortunately, families can still enjoy all museums have to offer without even having to leave the house. Many of these important institutions are offering virtual tours, like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Explore different types of rockets and aircrafts and browse a variety of their aviation exhibits. If your family has a different interest, visit your favorite museum’s website to see what tours, games or other online resources they may offer.
These are just a few ideas of creative ways families can spend productive, engaging time together!
We understand that life challenges can hit when we least expect them and we’re left with no choice but to reach out for support. But from a young age, we’re often taught that your problems are yours and yours alone – an idea that makes it challenging for people to feel comfortable asking for help. We know that taking the first step is the hardest, and that’s we want to celebrate those who’ve managed to call us for assistance. Take a look at some of our community members who’ve taken steps down their path to possible:
Ms. Mary (March 2020)
“Without Guardian Angel, I don’t know what many people in this community would do.” – Ms. Mary
Ms. Mary was first introduced to Guardian Angel when her son was first born in 1976. Now, years later, she has found herself having to take her first steps toward gaining stability for the grandson she’s raising. Being able to rely on the partner-choice food pantry during hard times, means Ms. Mary’s family didn’t have to go hungry. Recently, she was even able to prepare a special birthday meal for her grandson, using items from the food pantry. We are grateful to be there for our fellow community members like Ms. Mary in their times of need.
Ms. Ashley (Feb. 2020)
“It was not easy to ask for help, but I needed to make sure my children had food to eat.” – Ms. Ashley
As a mother of four with number five on the way, Ms. Ashley is thankful she’s been able to call on Guardian Angel’s services in her time of need. She’s still working toward total stability, and is currently using our food pantry and offered rental and utility assistance. Having access to the food pantry has allowed her peace of mind, knowing that there is food in her growing household. Beyond these services, she also uses the computer lab to look up helpful information about autism, which her son was recently diagnosed with. Eventually, Ms. Ashley would like to start a ministry to help other parents of children with autism, in order to become a positive fixture for her community, just like Guardian Angel. We’re proud of Ms. Ashley for taking these important first steps in creating something so necessary and important for her community!
Ms. Deborah (Jan. 2020)
“When you have faith, all is taken care of.” – Ms. Deborah
After bringing her daughter to our food pantry for assistance last year, Ms. Deborah decided to come to Guardian Angel to get help for herself. After her appointment, she received an emergency bag and now knows she can rely on Guardian Angel for support during challenging times. For Ms. Deborah, reaching out for help was the first step in working her way toward stability. We are honored to have been there for her and her family in their time of need.
Ms. Judy (July 2019)
“This computer lab helped me get a job.” – Ms. Judy
Using our computer lab, Ms. Judy was able to take the first step toward regaining stability. The next steps on her path to possible were updating her resume, browsing job opportunities online, and filling out applications. Using these helpful resources, she was able to land a job to continue supporting herself!
Two Septembers ago, we held our Groundbreaking Ceremony for our new Social Services Center, and last October was our highly anticipated Grand Opening event. Today, we continue to serve our South St. Louis community as we always have, but with greater capacity, thanks to our 18,000-square foot facility.
If you still haven’t made a visit to our new Social Services Center, read below to see some exciting features!
Our client-choice food pantry now has a commercial-sized walk-in freezer and a loading dock that will smoothly facilitate shipments, drop-offs, and distributions. This larger space will allow Guardian Angel to easily serve clients.
Our new state-of-the-art kitchen has an open concept to accommodate those who want to participate in our various workshops. There is plenty of space for cooking demonstrations, which allows people to interact with teachers and others during classes.
Our classrooms are large and outfitted with updated technology, which can be used for a variety of needs from client presentations to community meetings.
Private office space
It’s important to us that our clients feel comfortable and secure. Our new private office spaces allow clients to maintain privacy while meeting with social service and/or food pantry coordinators.
Disability welcoming spaces
We believe everyone deserves a chance at their path to possible. That’s why all our spaces are ADA-compliant, creating a comfortable environment for all needs.
Angel Boutique Resale Shop
In this new location, our resale shop is located alongside the many social services it helps fund. Everything is located on one floor, including our overflow merchandise, and there’s a loading dock on this side of the building for donation drop-offs. There is more than enough room for customers to browse the ample inventory.
We are proud to offer our clients and staff a large parking lot with many available spaces, where visitors no longer have to search or pay for a parking spot. The building’s new location is now located along a bus route, which only makes our services more accessible to our community members.
Thank you to all who participated in our Path to Possible Campaign. Your generosity and dedication are what allow us to continue being a source of guidance and support in South St. Louis for those hoping to take the first step to possible. To support our new Social Services Center and monthly client programs click here or contact Stephanie Betts at (314) 773-9027 ext. 254.
Having served as a board member for 10 years, Lynn Davis recently became Board Chair. Read her reflection of the evolution she’s witnessed within the organization throughout her tenure.
How were you first introduced to Guardian Angel?
A friend and former coworker of mine was on the Guardian Angel board. We were out to lunch one day and I mentioned to her that I was rolling off of another board, due to term limits. I was interested in getting engaged with something new, but hadn’t found anything yet. At that time the Childcare Center had just opened a few months prior, and told me about the huge Capital Campaign and really encouraged me to check it out. So I took a tour and fell in love immediately. I applied and joined the board right away.
What was your first impression of the organization?
I had a small child at the time, but prior to my first visit to Guardian Angel (at the Childcare Center), those types of child-focused programs weren’t really on my radar. But when I walked through the childcare facility and saw the engagement of the staff and how passionate they were about what they were doing. There was just an energy there – and I feel like it’s still there today – that comes from the people that work there. Just an atmosphere of joy and happiness that makes you feel like the kids there are well taken care of. I was just blown away – it pulled me in pretty closely right away.
What about the Guardian Angel’s work appealed to you?
Much of the work I had been involved with before was around senior care – that, in particular, was something very near and dear to my heart, and it still is. But when I came to Guardian Angel I was just so amazed at the variety of services. A lot of organizations I’ve been involved with in the past focus on one specific target area, whereas with Guardian Angel there was the Childcare Center, social services, all these different things going on. I felt like there was just so much opportunity to find something that you really enjoy.
Guardian Angel has such a storied history. Why do you think it has stood the test of time?
One of the things Guardian Angel does really well is make people feel confident. As an organization, there’s the concept that we’re not looking for repeat customers. Instead, we’re looking for ways to help people solve problems, and doing so in a way that helps them continue being meaningful contributors of society. When I speak at fundraising events, I let people know that the financial support they’re contributing to this organization is being used wisely. That money is being put into programs, and we’re putting all our energy into things that are helping people be successful, beyond a patchwork solution that is going to cause people to be back in two weeks.
Also, clients are treated differently in that environment. Instead of a system where people are shuffling in and out to just get what they need and move on, they’re getting a level of care and attention that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Here, there’s an intention to help them get through that minute, but also to have that not happen again. I think that’s very meaningful for both ends – the supporters of the cause and the receivers of the services. I think that’s what has really driven community support and is one of the reasons it’s been successful for so long.
Is there a specific moment that comes to mind where you directly felt that impact Guardian Angel makes?
There’s a common thread I see in all the stories from clients. For a lot of people, taking that first step through Guardian Angel’s door should’ve happened a lot sooner, but they didn’t have the courage. I would assume that it takes a lot to walk through that door. So without that level of culture within our organization, without the outreach, and accessibility, and I don’t know that those individuals would have a much harder time reaching that success.
How has serving at a board level enrich your own life, both professionally and even personally?
For me, it’s Guardian Angel’s cause and its culture. When I came to the board at Guardian Angel, it was an opportunity to really just engage all aspects of the process, meaning feeling fully committed to the cause. When you’re getting involved in a nonprofit organization, you need to be passionate about what you’re doing. I was probably 33 when I first joined the board and you gain experience that you may not get in your work setting by leading meetings, leading committees, taking on other responsibilities. It’s just a great compliment to any young professional, that’s looking to advance their skillset, outside of work.
You meet a lot of really great people, whether it’s people on the board or the staff that work at the agency. There are people on the board that I’ve known now for 10 years and I could call them for anything, whether it’s personal, professional, board-related, agency-related – whatever it is, I know that they would support me in whatever way I needed them to.
What called you to step into the role of Board Chair?
For me, taking on this role has a lot to do with the staff at this agency. Knowing that we have a really, really solid group of extremely talented people makes a huge difference. I kind of see my role as keeping this board excited to engage, energized about what they’re doing, and motivated by the future of the organization, and it’s much easier to do when you have super strong talent that just delivers – and and that’s what we have.
Looking at what’s been accomplished within the agency in the past 10 years – with two Capital Campaigns, the development of the childcare center, Hosea House becoming the social services facility, then moving to Cherokee, and now being on Jefferson. You just look at all those things and realize it’s big stuff. Guardian Angel is not an agency just doing the day-to-day to maintain the status quo. It’s an agency that’s looking to improve services, to provide better facilities for those services, and to really just push ahead.
Anything you’re looking forward to on behalf of the organization in the next year?
Now that we’re in a first class facility for social services, and still have a first class facility for childcare, the next step is identifying what we’re trying to do next. Where do we go from here? We’ve got the facilities, we’ve got the team, we’ve got the capabilities. What does it look like five years from now? Those are the questions we’re asking to make sure we’re anticipating the community’s needs and serving them efficiently.
UPDATE: As of Friday, March 13th, a federal injunction from the U.S. District Court has been issued to block this rule from going into effect April 1st.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many low-income workers are at risk of losing a significant amount of their income and even their jobs. The implementation of the new SNAP rule would further burden these individuals with the challenge of affording food at such globally challenging times.
Please stay tuned for more updates about this rule, as they become available.
What you should know:
Beginning April 1, 2020, nearly 700,000 unemployed individuals will be cut off from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or their “SNAP” benefits. Though the United States Department of Agriculture has stated that children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities will not be affected, those considered able-bodied adults without dependents will no longer receive governmental food assistance.
Currently, SNAP limits unemployed adults (aged 18 to 49 years old) to three months worth of benefits until they meet a 20-hour weekly work minimum. In the past, SNAP programs located in areas of high unemployment would waive this requirement, but with this new rule, they will have greater difficulty accommodating residents of these areas.
What Guardian Angel can do:
When governmental programs like SNAP are cut, nonprofit organizations like Guardian Angel, who may have already reached capacity, will be left to fulfill the increased need of existing clients.
In addition to offering a variety of fresh produce, meats, cheese and other nontraditional pantry items, our Client Choice Food Pantry also works with families and individuals to help them understand changes to their SNAP benefits, make them aware of the additional resources available to them, and walk them through the process of getting registered for those additional programs and/or services.
How You Can Help:
Every day, food pantries struggle to serve their communities because the need is so great. With almost 7% of current SNAP beneficiaries facing upcoming ineligibility, our pantry – like many others – will have to rely on increased donations to operate. Please consider supporting Guardian Angel clients during these difficult times by making a donation to our food pantry.
Donations to our food pantry can be made Monday through Friday from 9am – 3:30pm. Please call (314) 773 – 9027.
Though we’re grateful for each passing year, 2019 was especially good to us! Our passionate staff, lovely supporters, and wonderful community have made this year truly special for our organization. Before we go on to create more meaningful moments in the new year, let’s review some of our favorite memories from the past one.
In 2019, we enjoyed…
5. Another successful Annual Dinner & Auction
4. The 25th anniversary of our Annual Golf Classic
3. The welcoming of Lea Compton, our new Director of Social Services
2. The welcoming of Tricia Gooden, our new Director of Childcare
1. The opening of our new Social Services Center
These moments are just glimpses of all the wonderful blessings Guardian Angel received in the past year. Thank you for spending 2019 with us! We look forward to another year of continued service and support within our hardworking communities!
Initially, Carolyn Grebel’s familiarity with Guardian Angel began and ended with the Angel Boutique Resale Shop. It wasn’t until her friendship with Community Service Coordinator Stephanie Betts that she became aware of the full scope of Guardian Angel’s work. Immediately, she was inspired by what she saw.
“When you see people that are really, really passionate about doing good in the community around them, it’s infectious – especially when it’s something you’re passionate about, as well,” Carolyn says. “When my friend, who looks into the faces of people in the community and knows their struggle, says ‘this is a great program,’ I believe her. And I do whatever I can to support it,” she says.
Carolyn is the co-owner of Heartland Fragrance, an all-natural soap shop located in the Vinita Park area of St. Louis Missouri. The small, all-woman owned and operated company’s philosophy is to offer gentle, high-quality products that are as equally good for the skin as they are delightful to use. As listed in their company’s story, each product is crafted with love and attention. Being a company that operates with such care, it’s no surprise that the partnership between Heartland Fragrance and Guardian Angel should occur.
This year, seniors in Guardian Angel’s Senior Christmas program will receive handcrafted, all-natural soaps from Heartland Fragrance in their gift baskets. Additionally, Carolyn will personally sponsor seven seniors in the program.
“You can tell when people care. That’s what draws you in when it comes to who you want to work with as a business. [Through watching Guardian Angel] work and form partnerships, I’ve realized that there’s a whole world of people in our community that are doing a lot of good,” says Carolyn.
There are many different forces that help us successfully serve the St. Louis community, and we appreciate each of them for helping us carry out our mission. This Thanksgiving season, we’re feeling especially grateful for these organizations/corporations who help us carry out our mission of helping people along their paths to possible!
Ameren Missouri has been a longtime partner of Guardian Angel’s. Ameren Missouri staff participate in seasonal programming events throughout the year, and the organization has been a presenting sponsor for our Annual Dinner and Auction and a supporter of our Path to Possible Campaign, which helped make the recent opening of our new Social Services Center possible.
Kicking Cow Promotions
Kicking Cow Promotions sponsors both of our annual events and provides in-kind support throughout the year. From event support to items for our holiday programs, they contribute year-round to our success.
Kuna provides semi-annual donations of food to our client-choice food pantry, which serves nearly 150 families a month.
Nestle Purina PetCare Company
Purina staff participates in volunteer events throughout the year, like purchasing and assembling bicycles for the children in our Childcare Center. They have been a presenting sponsor of our Annual Dinner and Auction and have supported the Path to Possible Campaign, which gave our social services department a new home.
Tacony has been the presenting sponsor of our Annual Golf Tournament since its inception 24 years ago! Additionally, Tacony donates printing services that save our organization thousands of dollars annually and employees volunteer to organize collections of items needed at our food pantry and for seasonal programs.
Early education is critical because it occurs at such a pivotal point in a child’s development. This #NationalFamilyLiteracyMonth, parents can read to their children as a way to both spend quality time together and encourage the healthy development of young minds. Our Director of Childcare Tricia Gooden says,
“Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written world.”
Here are a few book suggestions parents can use to get started:
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
I Will Not Read This Book by Cece Meng
ABC T-Rex by Bernard Most