Community Against Poverty will offer volunteers chance to connect with service groups


The community will have the opportunity to meet with representatives of 30 local social service organizations and hear from experts in health care, education, housing, food and the environment during the Community Against Poverty (CAP) program at the end of March.

The event, coordinated by the Jewish Community Relations Council in conjunction with a number of local groups, combines a volunteer fair and an educational seminar on the ramifications of poverty.

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Community Against Poverty takes place on Sunday, March 30 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur.

Phyllis Markus, chair of the JCRC’s Bohm Social Justice Initiative, said the event was part of a two-pronged approach the committee takes to fight poverty.

“Our Social Justice Committee decided that to facilitate change we needed to do two things: one is to raise awareness and the other is to create opportunities for people to become involved in the area of combating poverty,” she said at a JCRC meeting on March 11.

With a broad base of co-sponsors, the event is bringing together organizations representing a variety of religious and racial backgrounds, including the Jewish Community Center, Catholic Charities, Interfaith Partnership, the Islamic Foundation and the Clergy Coalition, Markus said.

“Because we have such a broad range of groups, it really will be kind of one-stop shopping for anybody who has any time to volunteer, whether it’s volunteering at one event for a few hours, or doing a community service project over the summer, and everywhere in-between,” said Gail Wechsler, director of domestic issues for JCRC.

“We’re appealing to all different age groups,” she said. “Some of our groups will be looking for teenagers, others may be looking for retirees. So, it really runs the gamut.”

The first half-hour or so of the event will include short presentations by five speakers, covering various aspects of social action, and ways people can get involved to help, Wechsler said.

Ruth Ehresman, Director of Health and Budgetary Policy for the Missouri Budget Project will speak on health care issues. Christine Woody, from the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, will speak on hunger and housing issues. Andi Schleicher, executive director of the Child Day Care Association, will be talking on children’s issues. Kathleen Logan Smith, executive director of Missouri Coalition for the Environment, will be speaking about environmental issues, and Joan Suarez, Workers’ Rights Board co-chair for Jobs with Justice, will be speaking on jobs and immigration Issues.

The event is part of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s broader focus on poverty issues. The organization has worked with a variety of community groups to hold poverty and hunger awareness events.

“We’re hoping to educate people and get them excited and empowered to help,” Wechsler said.

For more information about the Community Against Poverty program, contact Gail Wechsler at 314-442-3894 or visit