How did you first hear about Guardian Angel and why did you decide to become a board member?

My employer, Nestle Purina PetCare, has had a relationship with Guardian Angel for longer than anyone can remember.  The organization has always served people in need in the Near South City neighborhood- the neighborhood our headquarters is located- so it’s been a great fit from the start.  I was invited to take a tour in 2009 and was impacted greatly by the work happening. So, when I was asked to join the board in 2011, I was thrilled to do so.

What are the key functions of the Guardian Angel board?

The board exists to govern the organization.  It is our responsibility to ensure the organization is soundly funded, professionally run, and is positioned well for the future. We also are in charge of hiring leadership at the agency – and we have great leadership at Guardian Angel! I’d also say the board has a fundraising responsibility to the organization. We donate funds and work to spread our mission to peers so they can support it, if able.  Board members often donate their professional skills as well. We  have a board member in real estate that has donated her time in the acquisition and development of our new Social Services Center. We have another board member that owns a promotional marketing agency, and their team donates time and resources to events throughout the year.  Everyone does what they can!

What makes you most proud of being on the Guardian Angel’s board?

First, it’s my belief that helping others is part of being human, so I never think about doing it for the self-accomplishments or pride.  But, there are things happening at Guardian Angel I’m very happy to be a part of.  Our funding has never been stronger thanks to our highly engaged donors. We’ve observed this throughout the year at key fundraising events; we’ve also seen this happen so far during The Path to Possible Capital Campaign.  It’s been a huge success, and it’s bringing new life and energy to the organization. I believe this project will give Guardian Angel more recognition in the region and bring more attention to our incredible social service programs – something they normally don’t get. 

Through the Capital Campaign, we’ll be giving social services a permanent home – something we’ve been aiming for ever since our acquisition of Hosea House in 2001.  This building represents Guardian Angel’s maturation and ability to adapt to the needs in our communities, and for that I am proud.

From 2018, what are some of the highlights that stand out?

There are three highlights that stand out to me from this year, and I must recognize our amazing team for making them happen.

First, the Capital Campaign, under Jessica Brandon’s great leadership, has been a huge success thus far. Jessica and her development staff have ensured the necessary constituencies have been informed every step of the way, and they have successfully navigated through some complex ordinances, tax laws, and other legal matters to get the project moving forward.

Second, our regular childcare and social services programming had a great year. We served thousands of people at our social services via our Angel Boutique Resale Store, food pantry, utility assistance program, and self-sufficiency workshops. At our childcare, we saw another year with a 100% student graduation rate. We’ve also started some unique programs for expecting moms and working parents.

Lastly, we’ve experienced several new supporters becoming engaged with the organization this year.  Our new Young Professionals Board has brought younger supporters to the organization. And, others have learned about the organization through increased promotion of events, volunteer opportunities, and community partnerships. These supporters are recognizing the importance of our work to the St. Louis area, and that’s exciting. We’re so happy to have them in our supporter family.

What are some of the priorities or goals for the board in 2019?

A successful groundbreaking for our new Social Services Center is a big priority, and we plan to open by the end of the year.  The Center will help us expand our social services programming, offer technology to our clients (i.e. computer lab, meeting rooms), and provide an accessible place for clients with disabilities to comfortably utilize. On-site parking, which is especially critical for our resale store, will be offered as well.

Because of the Center’s size and new amenities, we’ll be able to further our focus of making the resale store a scalable social enterprise; training social service clients in various job functions, which will give them experience before entering or reentering the professional world.

And, like every year, we aim to provide best-in-class childcare services for the families in the communities we serve.

How can Guardian Angel’s supporters help with those priorities?

For most, the holiday season is a time to slow down, spend time with friends and family, and provide those close the feeling of gratitude and joy by warm sentiments and gift giving. But, for others the holidays are no different than the rest of the year. They experience crisis and can’t slow down because they must find ways to provide for their family.

Our supporters can do things during the holidays to help, like support our Holiday Campaign, or give a year-end gift to support our vital programs for the last few weeks and into the new year.  Like I mentioned, most are focused on gift-giving during this time – why not add those in need to your gift list this year? 

For those looking to make a longer-term impact to Guardian Angel and the St. Louis area, I encourage them to learn more about our Capital Campaign.  There are several general gift options available. There are naming-right options available as well.

If donating financially is not an option, we always need clothing, furniture and household item donations at the Angel Boutique Resale Shop.  There will be several volunteer opportunities in the new year as well.

Every gift matters to our work, and we’re grateful for the support.

In your opinion, what will make 2019 a success for Guardian Angel?

There are three things that come to mind for the new year.  One, we perform our everyday mission with the upmost expertise, and we serve our clients the best we can – placing children, adults and families on their path to possible. Two, we create a safe and happy place to work for our dedicated team members; and three, we end the year with the successful opening of our new Social Services Center.  

What is your message to the GASA community this holiday season?

Like me, many people try to find more meaning and purpose for their lives around the holiday season. I’ve found the best way to do that is by helping people that need it most, and I can’t find a better way to that than by supporting Guardian Angel.  We have a “100% meaning and purpose guarantee”.

Take Action:

If you’d like to make a year-end donation to the Guardian Angel Settlement Association, please click here to donate online.  If you’d like to give by mail or learn about other giving options, including the Path-to-Possible Capital Campaign, please contact Jessica Brandon, President & CEO, at  Guardian Angel works with the State of Missouri as well as many St. Louis businesses to provide various year-end tax deduction options. Please contact Jessica to learn more.