Since the pandemic began SOS has been joined by 32 new members and three returning members.
In these virtual times, I wondered how connected these new members might feel to the SOS community.
Megan Riley joined in the fall of 2020 and Susan Veidt became a member in the spring of 2021.This November they both finished their first LOI team experience.
Here’s what they had to say:
These interviews have been edited and condensed.
Gretta: Why did you join SOS?
Megan: I like the mission of SOS and the concept of a women and communal giving. Joining SOS felt like a really concrete action during a time I felt helpless. With the pandemic as a backdrop, being a member of SOS was tangible, something I was doing to help move the needle.
Susan: I had retired and was looking to expand my circle of friends and acquaintances. And I wanted to learn more about the St Louis philanthropic community.
Gretta: What did you learn during the LOI process/experience?
Megan: SOS members are the most impressive women I have come across professionally and in my community service positions. During the evaluation process when there was disagreement about an agency, we had discussions that were respectful, thoughtful and intellectual. It felt like everyone was taking the time to understand the opposing perspective. It was the most cooperative and collaborative process I have been involve in.
I also learned about organizations that address a variety of needs in really creative, functional and efficient ways that I hadn’t thought about before.
Susan: I learned about SOS’s process, and how decisions are made. I witnessed different ideas and voices being validated. It was a thoughtful and thorough process. Even when there were differences of opinion, everyone was listened to and respected. Sometimes my opinion was changed based on other perspectives I heard. What I might not have perceived about an organization someone else did and visa-versa. It created a holistic view of what was important when evaluating these organizations and illuminated what an organization had to offer, and why SOS might consider it for funding. Being involved in the LOI process opened my eyes to a lot of different things that are going on in our community.
Gretta: Did you feel like you had the right skill set for this volunteer position?
Susan: There wasn’t a right or wrong answer just an opportunity to bring a unique perspective to the discussion. Also, the prompt questions, for each LOI evaluation, were helpful. I didn’t feel intimidated or in over my head.
Megan: If you get yourself on a team it’s going to be a welcoming experience. You don’t need special knowledge to do any of the work. It’s about reading and organizing your thoughts and then talking through your opinions and ideas with other people.
Gretta: How was this experience as a new member of SOS?
Susan: On my LOI team new members were given a lot of consideration, our leader made us feel welcome and genuinely made us feel like she was glad we were there. I was encouraged to voice my perspective. I felt like I was contributing and it felt good to be there.
Megan: I was impressed with how the team members showed up, I mean they REALLY showed up! They had read all the information closely, taken notes and were ready to share their thoughts. They had done their homework and I learned a lot from them. I have learned something from everyone I have encountered at SOS. Even though I haven’t done anything in person ( except our final LOI meeting) I feel very connected to SOS.
Gretta: How did you feel about the time commitment for LOI evaluation?
Megan: I always go into these things worrying it might be a heavy lift because I don’t commit to things unless I can give 100%. In this case there was an absolute effort to accommodate everyone’s schedule so I never felt like I was left out or letting the group down. Plus, things feel pretty effortless when you enjoy what you are doing.
Susan: Every aspect was well organized and the time commitment was made clear at the beginning of the process.
Gretta: What would you tell someone who is considering joining SOS? Or has joined but is hesitant to volunteer?
Megan: Since joining SOS I have learned so much about organizations serving the St Louis region, and I am impressed by the diversity of the SOS membership. Even though SOS members have such varied backgrounds they are able to cooperatively and effectively evaluate the potential grantees, and have respectful discourse about how to prioritize SOS investments.
I also love learning about the life experiences of other members as we work together to learn about and support our community.
Susan: SOS members are a really dynamic group of women who are diverse in their interests, ages and passions. When I joined it was clear that the expectations were mine to set, I could be as involved or uninvolved as I wished. For me, if I just wrote a check, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to open myself up to a whole new group of friends and acquaintances, so I jumped right in.
I am impressed with the people and the process and the range of possibilities that SOS offers. I don’t think all of my aspirations have been fully realized yet because of the pandemic but it has been a good experience and it will only get better in the future. I am glad I joined SOS.
A whopping 174 Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) were submitted to SOS for 2022 grant funding consideration. Of those, 40 agencies applying for single year funding have been invited to submit full grant applications.
Sixty plus SOS members served on nine LOI evaluations teams. Thank you, all!
Experience the rewards of volunteering on a site visit team.
To join a Site Visit Team
On November 17, Paul Costigan of the International Institute of St. Louis was the speaker for the SOS program, Coming to America: Resettling as a Refugee in St. Louis.
As one attendee commented, “I had no idea so much went into the resettlement process. I’m glad we pursued this topic – it’s so important right now.”
If you missed the program, a recording may be found on the SOS website under the resources tab or at this link https://spiritstlwomensfund.org/resources/.
The international Institute’s web site www.iistl.com is a great resource for information on ways to get involved and suggestions for donations to help families settle in their new homes.
Movie NightHosted by CREW St Louis
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 26, 2022
7701 Maryland Ave
Clayton, MO 63105
The event will feature a screening of Day One – a movie that takes place in St. Louis and features programs to support Afghan refugees. This movie dovetails nicely into our most recent education event.
Checkout the link here:
CREW St Louis – 2022-01-26 dei movie night.
Finance Committee: We need one more financial specialist, who will be embedded in site visit team. The role of the finance specialist is to review the 990s and financial statements for each of full grant applications their team is evaluating, usually 5 applications. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Rebecca Fritsch at Rebecca.Fritsch@FBOL.com or 314-368-1092.
Membership Committee: Come help plan ways to recruit prospective new members and retain current ones. Or help work on member events. If interested please contact Ally Melvin at email@example.com or 618-923-1070
Marketing and Communications: Come join us and work on PR and getting the word out about SOS. We have lots of short task oriented projects too. If interested please contact Gretta Forrester-Gaffney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-614-4177.
On Friday, December 3rd, SOS co-founder Susan Block, hosted our annual Holiday Coffee at her beautiful home in the Chase Park Plaza. Betsey Bruce, a volunteer grant writer for The Collective Thread, spoke about the organization and the work it is doing in our community and how individuals can get more involved.