Leisure Features, Society

Giving Back: Meet the Maids

With the glamour of the gowns and ceremony, it can be easy to forget the important and beneficial work that the Veiled Prophet Ball celebrates. Founded in 1878 by local businessmen, the VP is St. Louis’ oldest social, civic and philanthropic group. It is dedicated to improving our community, and the ball is more than just a party. The young women who are involved have donated countless volunteer hours to community efforts and will continue to make an impact. T&S spoke with a few of this year’s maids of honor about how they give back.

hannah & hadley parham (pictured at top)
The Parham sisters are quite the team. The Ladue Horton Watkins graduates attend the same university and both are majoring in elementary education. “We’re partners in crime,” Hadley jokes. They carry this jovial camaraderie into their work with the VP. The sisters have dressed up for Christmas parties at Shriners Hospitals for Children and have helped at back-to-school picnics and other efforts with organizations like Great Circle, Beyond Housing and Food Outreach. Hannah’s favorite memories are from working with Food Outreach because she knows it makes a major impact on the lives of those in need. For Hadley, working with kids has been the highlight, whether it’s helping them make the perfect snowcone or finding backpacks in their favorite colors.

Hannah is excited that she and her sister get to be part of the ball this year. “Every year, I get to watch the maids,” she says. “I see their confidence and how they give back. Now, I have the privilege to do that.” The sisters also are grateful to the VP for giving them a chance to help the community. Originally from Belarus, they were adopted as children and appreciate the opportunities living in this country has given them. “I like to take every chance I can to give back and show how lucky I am,” Hadley says. “Even if it’s by doing the smallest thing, I want to put smiles on people’s faces.”

Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

barrett carlson
Barrett Carlson is a John Burroughs graduate studying economics. Her past service projects include cleaning up neighborhoods with Beyond Housing and restoring the art studio at Marian Middle School, but her favorite experience was her most recent: dressing up for patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital a few days prior to the VP parade. Barrett and other volunteers brought in Build-a-Bear stuffed toys and wore princess and superhero costumes. “We brought the parade to them,” she says. “It was a very emotional experience.”

She is excited to participate in the ball because of the sense of community fostered by the VP. “It’s going to be so much fun to spend time with everyone,” she says. Barrett is grateful to the VP for giving her the opportunity to serve St. Louis, and she can see the impact it has. “I love being part of an organization that gives back,” she says. “When you’re working on a service project, you can tell you are making a difference.


hannah fiala
For Hannah Fiala, volunteering and being involved with the VP are all about making meaningful connections. The Westminster Christian Academy graduate is a double major in dance and business. She says the majority of her volunteer work has been outdoors, helping plant gardens and clean up houses. Her favorite memories are working alongside her father and sisters. “There is something cool about working with my family and getting to serve alongside them,” she says.

That familial connection carries into Hannah’s excitement about the ball. She says her father has been a part of the organization only for a short time, but her grandfather also was involved before him. The event offers an opportunity to be with friends she hasn’t seen since leaving for college. She’s also grateful that the VP has broadened her understanding of St. Louis. “I’ve gotten to meet so many different people,” she says. “It’s opened my eyes to the needs in our community, and I understand what it means to serve.”