Cover Stories

The Veiled Prophet Organization: 1.19.22

St. Louis is known as a city where people stand up for each other and make a difference for neighbors in need. The Veiled Prophet Organization and Veiled Prophet Foundation are an important part of that philanthropic spirit, constantly creating opportunities for community members to partner in making the region a positive and supportive place to live.

Members of the VP Organization and their families, including the young women who participate in the VP Ball, all share a commitment to offering their time and talent for the good of the community. St. Louisans served by nonprofits like Food Outreach, St. Patrick Center, Girls Inc., the Guardian Angel Settlement Association and Beyond Housing feel the immediate impact, says Dean Pollnow, vice chairman of the VP Community Service Initiative (CSI).

Pollnow says that rather than just prescribing a set of volunteer initiatives for members and young women to participate in each year, CSI cares about bringing diverse voices to the table to discuss real neighborhood needs and how they can be met through volunteerism. That means inviting regular input and involvement not just from the nonprofits, but from the area residents they assist.

“We want our members and young women who volunteer to talk with and work alongside the people who receive services, for the good of everyone, whether the project is creating a community center mural, addressing food insecurity or constructing a new playground together,” Pollnow says. “We also connect our nonprofit partners with businesses that can help. For example, if grocery stores have a surplus of food, we can link them to nonprofits that will use it, and we can help even more through projects like assembling meal kits for members of the community.”

According to Pollnow, the VP is expanding its volunteer outreach calendar to foster a year-round cycle of caring. “This could involve going into schools on a regular basis and asking, ‘What do you need help with right now?’” he says. “Is there a longer-term project you would like us to do, that would reach beyond the summer or the school year? What ideas do you have for initiatives that would make an impact? We have found that lots of great ideas come to light this way.”

The central goal of all these efforts is to create broader awareness and understanding between VP volunteers and members of the community, Pollnow says. He notes that VP members can suggest local charities they want to engage in projects with, or the VP organization can approach nonprofits directly and ask what their needs are. Ultimately, the goal is for awareness and dialog to fan out into the wider community and spur the public’s interest in giving back, Pollnow says.

“Sometimes in the past, we got involved in volunteer initiatives where we made a difference but never actually met the people who benefited,” he explains. “We are focused on changing that, and in the future, it may mean doing projects that are fewer in number but have more wide-reaching impact. We are placing less emphasis on facts and figures like the number of hours donated, and more on the lasting good we can do in the community.”

Each year, the Veiled Prophet Foundation and Veiled Prophet Organization support area betterment through events, philanthropic programs and the Community Service Initiative. Pictured on the cover: Brooke Lambert Behan and her father, Patrick J. Behan Jr.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo courtesy of the Veiled Prophet Organization

Pictured at the top: A CSI project at Promise Community Center
Photo courtesy of the Veiled Prophet Organization

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