Volunteer fair part of anti-poverty effort

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

The second annual Community Against Poverty (CAP) Volunteer Fair presents a unique opportunity for individuals of all ages, groups and families from throughout the St. Louis area who are looking for ways to help others. There are 35 non-profit agencies participating in the fair this year, said CAP chair Phyllis Markus.

“Despite the economic hardship affecting so many individuals, people are reaching out to help one another,” Markus said.

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The CAP Volunteer Fair offers great one-stop-shopping for people looking for information on ways to help out in the community.

“Many people want to do volunteer work but often don’t know where or how to start looking,” said Gail Wechsler, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice. “We wanted to break down those barriers and have many organizations in the same place at the same time.”

Each attendee will receive a packet listing every participating organization, information about that organization and their needs and any requirements they have of their volunteers, said Wechsler.

Wechsler’s daughter, Hannah, a Ladue Middle School eighth grader, discovered Ready Readers when she attended the fair last year. The program has volunteers read at schools with at risk children.

“I read books to children and get to give them books,” Hannah said. “I am working with preschool kids. It’s really sweet.”

The CAP coalition was organized by the JCRC to concentrate on the issues of poverty. It has brought together many interfaith, interracial and civic organizations. More than 150 people attended the first CAP volunteer fair last year.

“We are a broad based coalition directing our efforts toward education and advocacy,” Markus said. “We work with organizations focusing on five areas: hunger, housing, education, health care and economic security.”

The program will open with formal presentations of proclamations from public dignitaries. The keynote address is being presented by Chris Krehmeyer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Beyond Housing in St. Louis. There will also be a special presentation involving area youth.

“It is a great gift to be able to help out someone in their lifetime,” Markus said. “It is especially wonderful to see our children being taught to think about other people and actually learning how to seek out opportunities to help.”

The second annual Community Against Poverty Volunteer Fair is being held on Sunday, March 8 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building, 12 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. For more information contact Gail Wechsler at 314-442-3894 or [email protected]