Deaconess Celebrates 125 Years of Impact

-More than $72M distributed to area organizations since 1998-

May 12, 2014 - Area leaders including the Honorable Charlie A. Dooley, County Executive, St. Louis County, Missouri, and the Honorable Francis G. Slay, Mayor, City of St. Louis, gathered recently at Eden Seminary to observe Deaconess’ 125 years of mission in the St. Louis region. They were joined by individuals and organizations who have been beneficiaries of Deaconess grants over the years, including youth ambassadors from Loyola Academy and De La Salle Middle School, as well as community and religious leaders.

“Our commitment to St. Louis has been driven by our faith heritage and core values, specifically our first values of service and hope,” said Rev. Starsky Wilson, president of Deaconess Foundation. “We are the only independent private foundation in area that focuses exclusively on causes related to children, and we look forward to catalyzing region-wide efforts to make an even larger impact.” Wilson challenged the attendees to “Sign up, speak up and show up for children of the region” while urging policymakers to begin their deliberations with the question,  “Is it good for the children?”

In addition to Wilson, leaders who participated in the evening’s reflections of the Deaconess mission included: Dr. Sue Stepleton, Director of Brown School Policy Forum at Washington University, DeaconessFoundation Alumni Trustee, and current Eden Theological Seminary Trustee; Rev. Richard Ellerbrake, President Emeritus, Deaconess Hospital; Dr. David Greenhaw, President, Eden Theological Seminary; Cenia Bosman, Senior Vice-President, YMCA and Board Chair, Deaconess Foundation; and Rev. Chet Cantrell, Executive Director, Christian Activity Center.  Children from the St. Louis area blew out birthday candles on a giant birthday cake as the crowd sang a happy birthday song.

A new identity, website and dynamic communications efforts have been unveiled to freshen the foundation’s approach, and increase its footprint in the region as a catalyst for change. The new website is: deaconess.org.  The organization has also introduced social media accounts designed to share and amplify important community conversations regarding the well-being of children in our region - found on Twitter @DeaconessFound and Facebook.

This year Deaconess has announced funding opportunities for 2014 as part of its focus on community-capacity building efforts in the following areas:  advocacy for children, collective impact efforts, and amplifying community voices. These efforts complement the on-going Deaconess Impact Partnership program, which is a multi-year commitment to strengthen the operations and leadership of child and youth-serving nonprofit organizations in the St. Louis region. Unique, multi-year opportunities also exist for mission-related investment and expanding children’s health.

Deaconess Foundation continues the mission established in St. Louis in 1889 – investing, engaging and advocating for St. Louis children. As a ministry of the United Church of Christ, Deaconess has invested more than $72 million to improve the health of the St. Louis region since 1998. The Foundation believes healthy, hope-filled futures for children benefits the region – focusing the core values of justice, hope, service identity and faithfulness. The Foundation invests in endeavors that improve the well-being of children, engages our region around the plight of youth, and advocates for change. For more information about Deaconess Foundation or its funding opportunities contact info@deaconess.org.  Find Deaconess on Twitter @DeaconessFound and Facebook.