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So far Amy Inman has created 30 blog entries.

Finance Review Committee



Financial Review: Rebecca Fritsch, Chair


  • Reviews information submitted by agencies to develop a list of clarifying questions to be used during the Site Visit
  • Enters data on Excel Template
  • Supports Site Visit Team work


If you would like to join the Finance Review Team, email Rebecca Fritsch at Rebecca.Fritsch@53.com

Finance Review Committee2020-10-19T12:39:42-05:00

Membership Committee


Membership: Katy Dowd, Joni Karandjeff, and Ally Melvin Chairs


The Membership Committee strives to recruit diverse members, engage and retain current members and welcome guests through a variety of events to learn about previous grantees, the needs of our community, and to connect SOS members to each other.  At each event, we provide for our members and guests a welcoming atmosphere. Favorite events of the year include themed member-hosted gatherings, the Annual Holiday Coffee, and Lunch and Learns. The highlight of the membership events is the Spirit Awards where our grantees are announced for the coming year. For 2019-20, we have planned 7 events. 

The Membership Committee meets monthly on the second Monday from 4:00 – 5:30 pm. Committee members suggest and help plan events, to include venues and speakers. Committee members also discuss ways to recruit and engage members. New this year is 00 Agents – liaisons to each class to help keep members engaged and informed. The Membership Committee works closely with the Communications, Education and Grants Committees.

29 members are on the Membership Committee: Sharon Abel, Marianne Baer, Barb Bindler, Leslie Corey, Jackie Engel, Gretta Forester Gaffney, Amy Garrison, Trish Gormley, Kathy Holman, Amy Inman, Jan Kosmal, Pam Lee, Elveeta Macon, Ally Melvin, Lisa Oliver, Kathy Pope, Lee Anne Quatrano, Sue Rector, Shirley Richey, Beth Ann Riechman, JoAnn Sanditz, Ellen Schapiro, Vicki Sheehan, Barbara Toumayan, Anne Volland, Anne Warfield, Caroli Young.

We welcome anyone to join us – lots of fun! Interested in joining? Please email Katy Dowd at katydowd@hotmail.com or Joni Karandjeff at jonik13@sbcglobal.net or Ally Melvin at aamelvin1s@gmail.com.

Membership Committee2020-10-19T12:46:53-05:00

Impact Committee

Impact Committee

Impact: Teresa Buehler, Chair and Carroll Rodriguez, Vice-Chair


The Impact committee help review the previous year’s grants at 6 month and 12 month intervals. This committee’s work is important to SOS and the grantee as it helps evaluate how the grantee used their grant, and the impact it made on the people and the community they serve. Inspiring stories are collected from the grantees to share with SOS membership and the community. The Impact Committee reports bi-annually on the success of each grantee as it strives to meet and complete its goals. This report includes information regarding the grantee’s concerns, challenges and highlights.

We meet twice a year; usually in March and August. The actual time commitment is around 10 hours per year. (Add an additional 2 hours for our Happy Hour which is always held at an exceptional restaurant with great food and ambiance!) That’s pretty much it.

For more information about the Impact Committee, SOS members may access the SOS website by:

  • Logging on into the Member Site
  • Scrolling down to Grant Committee Documents
  • Clicking: Impact Committee Roles and Process Document
Impact Committee2019-12-15T12:15:35-06:00

Grants Committee


Grants: JoAnn Sanditz, Chair and Sharon Abel, Vice-Chair


The Grants Committee manages the process of reviewing and selecting grants awarded to local non-profits each year.  SOS has a four-phase grant application process:

  • Non-profits submit Letters of Inquiry (LOI) in September each year.
  • After all submissions are reviewed by LOI committees in October each year, selected non-profits are invited to submit a Full Grant Application in January.
  • All non-profits submitting a Full Grant Application meet with Site Visit committees during February and March each year.
  • Final grantees are selected by SOS membership and attend the Annual Grant Spirit Awards Ceremony in late May each year.    

All members are encouraged to participate in the LOI review and join a Site Visit team.  The total time commitment for an LOI team member is 6-8 hours during the month of October.  The total time commitment for a Site Visit team member is 10-15 hours during the months of February and March.  

To join an LOI team or a Site Visit team, please go to https://spiritstlwomensfund.org/  Login as a member, click on “Member Menu” then “Join Committees.” Select the checkbox next to “LOI” or “Site Visit.” If you need assistance logging in to your account, please contact soswomensfund.help@gmail.com 


Grants Committee2019-12-15T12:08:30-06:00

Marketing Committee


Marketing: Gretta Forrester-Gaffney, Chair


The Marketing/Communications Committee is constantly looking for new ways to spread the word about SOS. We are looking for ideas and people to help us execute those.

SOS communications include:

  • Save the date calendar of events
  • Event programs
  • Coordinate event invitations
  • Social media postings
  • On-line press kit
  • Spirit Awards video
  • Spirit Awards press release
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Grantee newsletter
  • Website updates

The current marketing committee consists of approximately 10-12 SOS members.  We meet monthly to coordinate the various responsibilities (& have fun!). We would love for you to join us!


Contact information:

Gretta Forrester-Gaffney

M | 314.614.4177

E  | g4sterg@gmail.com

Marketing Committee2020-10-19T12:48:27-05:00

Technology Committee


Tech Team


Committee Members:  Amy Conard (Chair), Kathy Frost, Amy Garrison, Carla Hayes Hill, Amy Inman, and Sandra Welgus.

Committee Objective:

The SOS technology committee is responsible for maintaining the organization’s website and member portal, member management system, and supporting all SOS committees.

Meeting Dates:

The SOS technology committee meets about every other month.

Like to Join or Have Questions?

Please contact Amy Conard at atconard@gmail.com.

Technology Committee2020-10-19T12:51:04-05:00

Education Committee


Education: Ellen Schapiro, Chair and Nancy Garvey, Vice-Chair


The Education Committee plans events designed to offer our SOS members a range of opportunities to learn more about the critical needs within our community, particularly in the five areas of Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, Health, and Human Services. We also provide SOS members opportunities to learn more about the local non-profits working to make a difference, and how the non-profit agencies can network and enhance their mission. We are committed to educating our members to become more informed and engaged philanthropists. For the coming 2019-2020 year, we have planned 4 events and 3 book discussion sessions.

The Education Committee meets monthly on the first Tuesday from 4:00-5:30. Individuals from the committee can participate in touring venues for events and meeting to plan details of executing events. Our committee members are valuable for their community experience and often contribute ideas for future events. Committee members volunteer during the 4 events to set up registration and refreshments and help with the break down. We also offer our services to the membership committee to help with execution of the membership events.

Education Committee members:

  • Marianne Baer
  • Rose Carnes-Bruce
  • Crista Carr Shatz
  • Cortaiga Collins
  • Leslie Corey
  • Carrie Crompton
  • Pat Crowe
  • Katy Dowd
  • Elaine DuBose
  • Amy Garrison
  • Nancy Garvey
  • Betty Guarraia
  • Amy Inman
  • Felice Joyce
  • Joni Karandjeff
  • Jan Kosmal
  • Nina Needleman
  • Kathy Pope
  • Lee Anne Quatrano
  • Beth Ann Riechman
  • Ellen Schapiro
  • Mary Schoolman
  • Peggy Symes
  • Elizabeth Wattenberg
  • Sarah Woodburn

To join, please email Ellen Schapiro, LNschap@gmail.com or Nancy Garvey,  ngarvey57@gmail.com.

Education Committee2020-10-19T12:56:06-05:00


Why We Give –  GlobalHack


Youth Coding League

To some, the letters and symbols may look like jumbled scribble, as irrelevant and meaningless as some long ago forgotten language.

But to those who code, every single keystroke has potential – the power to change the very world around us.While the idea may seem unfathomable to some, life as we now know it is impacted by lines of code on almost every level.
So why not seize every opportunity to harness that technology for positive social change?
That’s exactly what the founders of GlobalHack, a 2018 SOS grantee, want to teach the next generation of entrepreneurs and youth coders.
GlobalHack, which was founded in 2013 by entrepreneurs Gabe Lozano, CEO, LockerDome; Drew Winship, CEO, Juristat; and Travis Sheridan, executive director, Venture Café, seeks to drive social impact through technology.

GlobalHack Hackathon.

They do so by organizing events that kickstart  civic-focused software projects, such as their  namesake hackathon – GlobalHack.

 “We host large scale civic hackathons, which are  basically software development competitions that  benefit the community,” said Chance Grannan,  GlobalHack development and grants manager.
 Their last large scale hackathon brought in more  than 1200 people from 33 states and eight  countries.
 “They spend a weekend focused on a problem  that’s presented to them on Friday evening and  come up with software solutions to those  problems,” Grannan said.
 In 2016, the primary social focus of the hackathon  was homelessness. GlobalHack worked with St.  Patrick Center, Youth in Need and other  nonprofits to help define problems that the  hackathon competitors could address.
Across the board, they found that social workers and case managers were spending too much time on repetitive data entry – time they could be spending with clients, Grannan said.

“They were looking at a system of data management that wasn’t working, so we posed this issue to our hackers,” Grannan said. “The ideas that came out of that have taken shape over the last couple of years and we’re getting ready to launch our pilot program of that software.”

GlobalHack Hackathon.

The software, called Cemaritan, will make it easier for case managers to securely enter data on clients once and transfer the information across multiple databases.

Social workers and caseworkers normally have to manually retype all client information repeatedly to enter it into various government databases, and multiple social service agency servers. All that data entry takes time away from clients.
Since the idea was born at the 2016 hackathon, Cemaritan has been developed through GlobalHack with programmers and contractors. It will soon be rolled out in a pilot program at organizations in the Tri-County Continuum of Care, headed by the Community Council of St. Charles County.

At the next hackathon, coming up later this year,  competitors will focus on the experience of  foreign-born individuals and communities. They’ll be given three or four topics within that community and spend the weekend developing tech-based solutions to tackle those issues.

Global Hack doesn’t just focus on nurturing experienced hackers. At their hackathons, GlobalHack
staff noticed the lack of youth participants from populations that are typically under-represented in tech. Recognizing a need, GlobalHack prioritized the development of accessible computer science education opportunities for kids.
The nonprofit currently has three youth education programs: Summer Camp, CS First with GlobalHack, and Youth Coding League.
A majority of the grant funding from Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund has been devoted to the Summer Camp. For eight weeks over the course of the summer, GlobalHack rotates through four weeklong curricula for middle and high school students interested in learning everything from app and game design to website development, and programming in Python.

Summer camp.

Of the 400 youth who attend the camp, 200 receive a full scholarship with transportation if needed.

“Last year at summer camp, our full-time staff teamed together to oversee camp. We didn’t have a single person who was specifically dedicated to overseeing the program and making sure the kids were having a good experience,” Grannan said. “This year, largely due to SOS funding, we have been able to hire a seasonal summer camp director. We now have a consistent presence on site to make sure we’re really giving these kids the best experience we can. She’s been able to recognize where we can grow and strengthen our curriculum.”
GlobalHack also organizes the Youth Coding League, a program in which they partner with schools. Teams are led by a coach at each school – a teacher or volunteer who is interested or learning to code in Python alongside the kids, Grannan said.

Summer camp.

With mentorship from a professional computer programmer or computer science major, the teams work to create the a game during the season and come together for a final live coding competition that rivals any live sporting event.

Roughly 100 kids from 17 teams at 10 schools competed in the Youth Coding League last year, Grannan said.
“There are often not a lot of people able to teach computer programming in the schools,” Grannan said. “So we tell the teachers, ‘we’ll match you up with a mentor who can help guide you through that.’ It’s intentionally designed so that you don’t have to have a significant knowledge of coding in order to lead a team through.”
Another one of GlobalHack’s youth program is CS First with GlobalHack. Based off Google’s CS First Curriculum, this after school coding club that uses a drag-and-drop educational program called Scratch.

CS First with GlobalHack.

“The pre-coding education tool is a great entry level way to start programming and it’s a great way for schools to start a coding club,” Grannan said. “We train computer science students or professionals and send them to the schools as part-time instructors to lead the groups through this curriculum.”

GlobalHack is hoping to have 300 students served in the CS First program by the end of this year, with more than 1000 served by 2020.
Narrative developed and written for Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund by Bethany Prange of 618 Creative. Photos from GlobalHack.

Angels’ Arms

Why We Give –  Angels’ Arms

It was just a little suitcase sitting next to a child-sized book bag.

A pillow had been placed with care on top, balancing neatly so the pillowcase didn’t touch the cold concrete below.
Under better circumstances, this might only have meant some lucky child was eagerly preparing for a family vacation, or planning a sleepover with friends.
But on the front steps of Angels’ Arms, this sight was much more sobering. These were the worldly belongings of a 12-year-old who had just come into the foster care system.

“We arrived at the office the other morning, and on the front steps was the suitcase, a book bag and a pillow,” said Jasmina Schue, assistant executive director of Angels’ Arms. “It made things real in that moment. Often times when kids get dropped off at their foster homes, they don’t come with anything – or they’ll come with clothes in a trash bag. This is the reality for these kids. Their belongings get packed up and they’re whisked away from their home. It’s very scary for these kids.”

Angels’ Arms, a 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund grantee, is dedicated to providing and supporting loving homes for foster children by keeping brothers and sisters together within a nurturing family until a forever home is found.

The nonprofit, founded in 2000, works with qualified and experienced foster parents who are doing a great job caring for the children, but need a bigger home and/or more resources.

“The hardest part of this is finding qualified and experienced foster parents,” said Bess Wilfong, executive director of Angels’ Arms.

“When we do,” Wilfong continued, “we give them the opportunity to live in one of the homes that we provide and in turn they take in foster children with an emphasis on keeping siblings together. A lot of times these kids are long-term placements.”

Some of the parents were fostering two or three children, and could have taken more if they had the room. Others had five or six foster children and were just way too crowded in their existing homes.

It’s a common misconception that each foster child is required to have their own bedroom in order for the child to be placed with a family, Schue said.
“We had a social worker call and say, ‘do you have any homes in the O’Fallon area? Because we have a family living in a trailer and they have five foster kids,'” Wilfong said. “They’re the most loving people. They just needed more space and more money. In six months’ time, they moved into a new home out there. It’s so amazing to see them interact with all the kids and to be so happy just to have a garage and a backyard for the kids to play in.”

By moving into an Angels’ Arms property, foster parents are able not only to care for the children in a better environment, but some can accept more children – an important factor in a system where siblings are often separated.

An Angels’ Arms home.

Most people that foster can only take one or two kids, based on resources and the space in their home.

“Caring for kids is costly, and the state provides a very minimal stipend,” Wilfong said. “At Angels’ Arms, our parents can take more kids, and engage the community and provide resources, financial resources, helping fund various things that the children may want to take part in. Whereas the traditional foster parent may not have access to those resources.”

The parents in the Angels’ Arms homes are qualified and experienced, so they’re able to take multiple placements – often up to five, six or seven children.

“It’s very uncommon for a social worker to call and hear ‘oh sure I can take three or four,'” Wilfong said. “Sometimes they leave them in a place they shouldn’t be just so they don’t have to split them up.”
Angels’ Arms has had a few instances where sibling groups have been reunited – a gratifying experience to say the least.

Two years ago, a sibling group of three arrived to live with a pair of Angels’ Arms foster parents. But two of the children’s other siblings were living elsewhere. This past Christmas, a fourth sibling joined them in the home, and in January, the fifth came to live with them as well. Now, all five siblings are together again. They range in ages from 3 to 10.

The nonprofit currently has 12 homes for foster parents and a transitional housing apartment for kids who are aging out of the system but are going to college and working.

In addition to providing the homes, Angels’ Arms also helps the parents provide the children with other things they need – from clothing to equipment for school activities.

“We try to meet all the needs that the parents see for these children,” Wilfong said. “For instance, they’ll say we have a child who needs clothing, because they came with very little or nothing. Or if a child is interested in camps or activities, we help defray the cost of all of those. We also assist with some medical things, because it’s difficult to find Medicaid doctors or dentists.”
Angels’ Arms does not receive any state or federal funding, and exists primarily on individual donations and grants. They also work hard to develop partnerships within the community.

“It’s all about community and opening up the system to the community so other people can get involved in these children’s lives,” Wilfong said.

Over the years they have helped 500 foster children, including 127 sibling groups.
“Not everyone can foster but you can still be involved by supporting these foster children in various ways,” Schue said. “The assumption is that foster children are taken care of but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

The SOS funding has helped Angels’ Arms offer the foster parents the support they need – an obstacle that sometimes gets in the way of successful fostering.

“Sometimes the parents don’t have enough support to do the job but the parents in our homes have experience, they’re flexible, they have the drive and they’re up for the challenges and – they have us,” Wilfong said. “They can come to us and say they need help. That’s really what’s missing in the whole system – there’s no support system for the parents.
The SOS grant helped pay for everything from the mortgages on the homes and upkeep on the 13 properties to things the children need and want, such as camp, clothing, college application costs, homecoming and sports.
Though some of the children are only with their families for a short time, most of the kids have been with their Angels’ Arms foster parents for several years at least.
“Sometimes the kids stay with us the entire time and we see them all the way into college, so Angels’ Arms really is their family,”Wilfong said. “Sometimes they do get to return home – some of the kids go to a relative placement.”
*Some details may have been changed to protect the idea of the subjects.
Narrative developed and written for Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund by Bethany Prange of 618 Creative. Photos from Angels’ Arms. 
Angels’ Arms2019-09-08T19:59:29-05:00

The MICA Project

Why We Give –  The MICA Project

When she met him, he had promised her all the things that his home country offered – freedom, opportunity, and best of all, hope for a better life than the one she’d left behind.

But when those promises turned to threats and violence, she found herself alone and terrified.
America was now her home, and she didn’t want to leave.
He was quick to remind her that he was a U.S. citizen, and she was not. No matter how badly he treated her, she lived with the knowledge that he carried all the power.

If she dared to leave him, she’d have no money, no legal way to get a job, and a constant threat of deportation.She was trapped.

Fortunately, women in these situations can turn to the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project (MICA) Project for help.

“When we’re working with women who are in an abusive relationship with a U.S. citizen, there’s a way to self-petition just for themselves,” said Jessica Mayo, co-director of the MICA Project.

“We often start working with them, and they have no access to funds, and no way out,” Mayo continued. “Through the immigration process, they obtain a social security number, and their residency, and that empowers them to get a job. Working with the client over the course of a year, they really just transform and it’s a complete life change. It’s one of the cases where it really makes the biggest difference in how they’re able to face the world.”

The MICA Project, a 2017 grantee of Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund, is a community organization committed to working with low-income immigrants to overcome barriers to justice.

The organization, which began operations in 2012, utilizes legal services, organizing, advocacy, and education to promote the voice and human dignity of immigrant communities.

“Our primary project is providing legal services for low-income families in their immigration cases, but we also spend a significant amount of time in the community doing presentations on immigration,” Mayo said. “We also have a new project called the Client Support Services project where we have a case manager who works with the clients to connect them to other services.”
With recent changes in immigration law, the nonprofit has seen a significant increase in their caseload, Mayo said.
The MICA project typically serves 350-400 clients per year. As of 2017, they had increased to 500 clients.

“We expanded last year to try to meet the immigration needs,” Mayo said. “We started the pro bono attorney project and we also hired our case manager whose work often facilitates our work.”

Four paid attorneys work with the project, in addition to 15-20 pro bono attorneys who volunteer to handle one case a year.
The $20,000 grant from SOS ultimately helped fund the legal representation for the increasing number of clients, Mayo said.
“When we wrote the grant it was before the election, and at that point our immediate issue was that another nonprofit had just closed and had given all of their open cases to MICA,” Mayo said. “We had just hired our fourth attorney to cover all of those cases. But by the time of the final application and site visit that attorney position had become even more necessary as we were receiving even more calls after the election and anticipated policy concerns. We were expecting 350 cases and it ended up being 500 cases.
In the last year and a half, the organization has grown from five to eight staff members. Even with the increase in staff, there are still more who could be helped.

“We still have more cases that we could take,” Mayo said. “We certainly have room to grow as our capacity increases. The need is there.”

The attorneys handle a wide variety of cases, from individuals who need help obtaining benefits when they become eligible to those who are applying for citizenship.They also handle cases for immigrants who have been victims of a crime, deportation defense, applications for legal status, and cases for asylum seekers.

Clients pay for their legal services on a sliding scale. While the majority of their cases involve adults, the MICA Project still worked with more than 100 children last year, Mayor said.

“A lot of our deportation clients are women and children who just arrived in the United States,” Mayo said. “We had clients from 57 different countries in 2017.”
*Some details may have been changed to protect the identity of the subjects.

Narrative developed and written for Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund by Bethany Prange of 618 Creative. Photos collected from Portraying Humanity. Photo credit: Humans of St. Louis.

The MICA Project2019-09-08T19:56:36-05:00
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