Feature Story

Giving Back: Meet the Maids

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

mary tracy moore
Mary Moore believes serving others should be a way of life, not just an occasional habit. The Webster Groves native says she has enjoyed working on VP projects with her dad, Nate, and she volunteers quite a bit outside the organization as well. She says these experiences have shown her the importance of thinking beyond her own needs.

“The main thing the VP has taught me is the breadth of opportunities we have to give back,” she says. “I’m so glad I’ve been exposed to that. People often think of volunteering as just working in a soup kitchen once in a while, but that’s not always what the community needs most. The VP helps you find ways of helping that you might not have thought of.  It’s exciting to do different things each time.” Her favorite VP projects have included beautifying garden and playground spaces for nonprofits. She also helped build floats for the VP Parade and reconnected with another maid of honor she had known in middle school. “It was a fun opportunity to grow in sisterhood,” she says. “I loved that we got to work and walk together!”

Mary also has given her time to Up With People, a nonprofit that empowers young men and women through travel, music and volunteering. She recently became a certified rape crisis worker to help students dealing with domestic violence. She also works as a vocal coach and runs a book review website, booksinherhead.com. The English major hopes to attend law school or teach at the university level. In her free time, she practices yoga and meditation and says both have taught her a lot about good mental and physical health. “It’s easy to fall into a culture that is only about work and productivity,” she notes. “I enjoy finding ways to reach a balance and help others do the same.”

margaret (maggie) tyrrell
Ladue Horton Watkins grad Maggie Tyrrell says volunteering with the VP has taught her valuable lessons about empathizing with others. She volunteered with a nonprofit serving the homeless, and it left an indelible impression. “I had a great experience working there,” she notes. “I met good, kind people who were trying to make the best of a difficult situation. It was very humbling and made me grateful for what I have.” She also worked on a beautification project at St. Louis City Hall and says she was honored to meet the mayor and other local leaders.

Maggie says the VP Organization means a lot to her because it’s such an important part of the fabric of St. Louis. “You get to know so many charities you might not hear about otherwise,” she notes. “It’s great to see different groups working together to make change. And the VP Ball is a magical night—it shows off the many hours of service we have put in, and it brings attention to local nonprofits.”

At school, she belongs to a sorority and enjoys the philanthropic opportunities it provides. “On weekends, I volunteer at an animal shelter,” she says. “I walk dogs and socialize them so they can be adopted, and I pick up donations and help with fundraising events.” She is majoring in genetics and hopes to become a genetic counselor.

Her younger sister plans to follow in her footsteps as a maid of honor. “She came along on my volunteer projects, and I’ll do the same for her,” Maggie says. “We enjoy keeping the VP experience in the family.”

emma fiala
Being involved with the VP Organization is an important part of family life for Emma Fiala. Her grandfather and father have served as members, and other relatives have taken part in service projects. “Even though the VP has been part of my family for a while, I didn’t realize the value of it until I was older,” she says. “It has taught me to step outside of my circumstances and see the community’s needs.” She has worked on projects like cleaning senior residences and delivering holiday poinsettias to the elderly.

At school, she is involved with a nonprofit that provides meals for the homeless. “It’s an eye-opening experience,” Emma says. “I love getting to know the people we help.” A longtime equestrian, she also volunteers at a ranch that offers riding therapy for people with disabilities. “The kids get especially excited to be around horses,” she notes. “It’s wonderful to see how they connect.”

Emma recently interned with a ministry that helps women and children in Uganda, and she and her family volunteer with Crisis Aid International during the holiday season. Currently studying finance, she plans to continue her service work after graduation and hopes to start a nonprofit someday. “It’s important to get outside of the bubble we live in,” she notes. “It really helps me see the needs of the community, and the satisfaction is priceless.”