Volunteer

Thank you for considering volunteering with the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition. Volunteers are the heartbeat of our organization, and our work would not be possible without them. There are volunteer opportunities that fit with every schedule and lifestyle. Read about some of our amazing volunteers below, see each opportunity, and fill out the contact form to request more information.

2017-2018 Volunteers of the Year

The following outstanding individuals and organizations have been selected as the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition’s 2017 Volunteers of the Year.

CHRIS SCHOEMEHL – Board of Directors Volunteer of the Year
As the Treasurer of our Board of Directors, Chris is one of the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition’s most dedicated Board members. She spends countless hours in our office helping with finances and administration. Often the staff doesn’t know the individuals on our Board of Directors, but everyone knows Chris – and our Director of Operations is President of the Chris Schoemehl fan club! Chris’s accounting skills and brilliant financial mind makes our funders feel confident that the Coalition is putting the community’s support to the very best use. Chris doesn’t accept the status quo, she asks critical questions, and is always pushing the Coalition ahead to the next level.

DAVID SINGER – Special Projects Volunteer of the Year
As the president and owner of Warehouse of Fixtures, David has been with us every step of the way as we’ve expanded and grown as an agency. David started on our Junior Board, and is now on our Board of Directors. Our Executive Director says David “is bright and strategic and uses those qualities on the Board of Directors to help the Coalition grow in a thoughtful manner. He is also a passionate ambassador for the Coalition and is always willing to use his connections in the community to benefit children in foster care”. David was a key player in encouraging us to begin our Jones Program, which in only 12 months, has licensed 48 new foster families, serving nearly 80 foster children.

PATTI SUTHERLIN – Special Events Volunteer of the Year
We were SO lucky that Patti agreed to join the planning committee for Old Bags (now Hope in a Handbag) in 2012. She not only brought energy and enthusiasm to the committee but lots of fresh ideas too. She has a wealth of experience and expertise from working on other fundraisers. When she stepped up to co-chair the event in 2017, we really benefitted from her outstanding “business smarts” too. Patti can see the smallest details but never loses sight of the big picture. We wish we could clone her – it would be fantastic to have a few more Patti Sutherlins at the Coalition!

DEBRA NIEMANN – Little Wishes Volunteer of the Year
When we need help, Debra shows up every day to get us through it! We received a stack of incomplete holiday wish requests in October, and Debra spent many many hours collecting the additional information to make sure that each of the kids would receive a gift for the holidays. As our room makeover queen, Debra contacted every single caregiver whose foster child wished for a room makeover for Christmas to find out more about the personality of each child, what their favorite colors were, and what their interests were. Then Debra came in almost every day in December to personally choose what items each child was going to receive, so each of them would have a beautiful new look to their bedroom. Every room makeover is tastefully done and truly is designed with love by Debra Niemann.

LEAH STROUP – ReFresh Volunteer of the Year
Leah’s daughter recruited her mom to start volunteering with her at ReFresh. As Leah learned more about youth in foster care, she grew very committed to helping them however she could. Our ReFresh managers sing her praises – “Leah consistently goes above and beyond for refresh. From designing our windows, creating chalkboard signage, organizing our stockroom and streamlining our donation sorting, refresh would simply not be the same without her. Her incredible organizational skills, and positive and energetic demeanor make a huge difference to our organization. Not only is she reliable, but she is often willing to work on projects outside of her normal volunteer hours to help improve the store and keep it running smoothly. We are incredibly indebted and very thankful to her”.

LASHONDA LAMBERT – Junior Board Volunteer of the Year
LaShonda has been an extremely active Junior Board member for years. Not only did she just finish a term as the President of the Junior Board, but she has been involved with every aspect of the Junior Board – chairing fundraisers, helping at every type of Junior Board event, as well as supporting Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition events. One of the many things we love about LaShonda is that she is the epitome of an Ambassador to the Coalition. LaShonda doesn’t just sign-up to help, but she recruits all of her friends and family to support us too. We’re very grateful that LaShonda is such a devoted and passionate supporter to children in foster care!

WEST OAK CLEANERS – Community Outreach Volunteer of the Year
We lucked out by inheriting West Oak Cleaners when we took over Cinderella Project from another agency. West Oak Cleaners has been enthusiastically supporting the Cinderella Project for eight years. They kick it off in December, putting up Cinderella Project posters in all of their stores and talking about it in the newsletter they send out to their clients. Of all of the dress drop-off locations, West Oak’s clients donate the most dresses – we’ve picked up 600 dresses there in the past month alone! In working with West Oak Cleaners, it’s clear that they truly care about the mission – to make sure that no matter what a girl’s circumstances are, every girl can feel like Cinderella at her prom.

GREAT SOUTHERN BANK – Volunteer Group of the Year
A few passionate Great Southern Bank employees approached us with a desire to specifically help children in foster care. We discussed different possibilities, and they came back with a commitment from their management and employees to volunteer twice a month at ReFresh. There is not another organization, in the history of ReFresh, that has made such an ongoing volunteer commitment to us. This rotating group of bank employees are hard-working, full of energy, and dependable. Even as staff has turned over, their commitment to helping youth in foster care remains strong. We are very lucky to have them!

Joe also runs the Erin Eickmeier Foundation, named after his daughter with special needs. They host about 75 children a year for a summer camp specifically designed for kids with special needs.

Volunteer Stories

Meet Joe

Joe Eikmeier is an amazing photographer and editor at KSDK NewsChannel 5 who has filmed A Place to Call Home for the last 10 years. We love Joe because he knows how to engage kids, highlighting what makes them special so prospective parents can fall in love at first sight. Our staff couldn’t stop raving about Joe’s incredible work. Summer Renne says that with Joe, “Nothing is an afterthought. He is always completely present with our kids.” That presence of mind produces clear results for children in foster care. Over 200 children featured on APTCH have been adopted, with over 175 more on their way to adoption. And what does Joe want everyone watching at home to take away from APTCH? Joe says, “I’d want everyone to know that these are typical kids just looking for the love of a family. Every kid deserves that.” Well said, Joe, and thanks for all you do!

Joe also runs the Erin Eickmeier Foundation, named after his daughter with special needs. They host about 75 children a year for a summer camp specifically designed for kids with special needs.

Meet Angela

Angela Wakefield is one of our most cherished volunteers. Her years of passionate service to our kids even won her Wells Fargo’s nationwide Volunteer of the Year Award in 2016! Angela truly does everything, from serving on our event committees to managing groups of volunteers during our Cinderella Project – a dress drive for girls who otherwise would be unable to attend their prom. Our Executive Director, Melanie Scheetz, said, “I don’t know what we would do without her.” Asked what drives her to work so hard for children in foster care, Angela said, “No child on this earth should ever feel like they’re not wanted or loved and that’s what I see the Coalition do for every child; they treat them as if they were their own.” We couldn’t agree more, Angela, and we appreciate all you do!

Meet Shana

Shana Watkins is a phenomenal photographer who has gone above and beyond for every single foster child we’ve brought to her for photos. Shana says “I love
everything about the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition…the adorable kids, the amazing staff and a mission that compels me to do as much as I can for these children. Every child deserves to feel the security of being part of a loving family.” Our Extreme Recruiters couldn’t stop praising Shana. Angela Chewe says Shana is “so good with our kids, so humble, so giving, and her pictures are simply beautiful.” Heather Roberts added “she has such a heart for our kids. And she’s sooo good with them. She is able to engage the shyest of the kids, she is so accommodating.” Thank you Shana for all you do!

Volunteer Opportunities

Birthday Buddy

Duties:  Donate birthday presents to a child in foster care who has been identified as likely to receive very few or no gifts for his or her birthday. You can donate the gifts yourself, or ask your party guests to bring a present in lieu of a gift for you.

Times and Days Needed:  Donations are dropped off at a Birthday Buddy Coordinator’s home in Kirkwood, MO or in Bethalto, IL.

For more information on becoming a Birthday Buddy, click here.

Clothing Drive Organizer

Duties:  Organize a clothing drive at your church, school, company, or neighborhood to benefit foster children.  Gently used clothing donations for all ages and for any season are always appreciated. NEW socks and underwear are always needed, as well as diapers.

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

Duties: Volunteer advocates serve as the “eyes and ears” of the court. They independently research and asess all aspects of their assigned child’s life (living condition, family, education, medical needs, other special needs, and more). They make sure the child is safe, and provide writ­ten, fac­tual reports and rec­om­men­da­tions to a judge about what is in the best interest of the child.

Length of Commitment:  Until permanency has been reached for the foster child (generally at least 12-18 months). The idea behind the CASA program is that the volunteer is a constant in the child’s life. Many volunteers are advocates for one specific child or sibling group for years.

Times and Days Needed:   Volunteer advocates need daytime flexibility, but much of the volunteer work can be done on evenings and weekends.

Location:  St. Louis City Court is on North Vandeventer (near St. Louis University), and the Family Court of St. Louis County is on South Brentwood Blvd (just north of the Galleria Mall and south of downtown Clayton).

Requirements:  Volunteer advocates must complete 33 hours of training and typically spend 10-15 hours each month on their assigned case. CASAs must be 21 years or older, pass a criminal background screening and child abuse/neglect screening, and be willing to make an 18 month minimum volunteer commitment.

Foster Friend

Duties: Host and supervise fun, safe events for children in foster care at places like America’s Incredible Pizza and Circus Flora. Foster Friends receive exclusive opportunities to support children who are waiting in foster care to be adopted, and are invited to volunteer at other Coalition events throughout the year.

Length of Commitment: Foster Friends have the opportunity to help at an event about once per month, but participation is not mandatory. Foster Friends is a flexible volunteer opportunity, allowing you to help when your schedule allows.

Times and Days Needed: Weekends or week nights.

Requirements:  All Foster Friends must be 21 years or older and submit an annual criminal background screening through the Family Care Safety Registry.

Visit the Foster Friends Page to Learn More

Junior Board

Duties:  Act as an ambassador for the Coalition in the community. Junior Board members host fundraisers, do community service projects with children in foster care, and help at other Coalition events. Fundraisers that the Junior Board members have planned include an adult scavenger hunt, trivia night, happy hours and more.

Length of Commitment: Renewable yearly commitment

Times and Days Needed: Attend weeknight meetings the first Monday of every other month. In addition, Junior Board members are expected to help plan and participate in events, volunteer at occasional service projects, and act as an ambassador for the Coalition in their community.

Requirements:   Young professionals under 40 years of age.

Mentor

Duties:   Meet one-on-one with a teen in foster care once every 1-2 weeks, being a positive role model and friend to the mentee.  Mentors plan fun activities and outings with their mentee.

Length of Commitment: At least 12 months.

Times and Days Needed: Mentors typically meet with their mentee on Saturday or Sunday, but weeknight outings are also possible.

Location: Agencies try to match mentors with mentees who live within 15-20 minutes from them.

Requirements:  Mentors must attend an orientation and training, be 21 years or older, and have a clean criminal background screening.

Hope in a Handbag Day Of Event

Duties:  Help at one of the Coalition’s major fundraisers – Hope in a Handbag, a silent auction of new and like-new designer handbags.

Length of Commitment:  One evening in late April

Times and Days Needed:   5 to 9:15 p.m.

Requirements:  Volunteers should dress in business attire and will be standing for most of the evening.  Dinner and an orientation will be provided. Volunteers are not permitted to bid on handbags.

Office Support

Duties: Help with a special data entry or clerical projects.  Most of these projects take 3-8 hours to complete.

Length of Commitment: Project-by-project basis.

Times and Days Needed: Weekdays between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ReFresh Volunteer

Duties:  Help at our resale store, ReFresh, which provides clothing to youth in foster care at 90% off. Proceeds support our programs. Volunteers sort clothing donations, tag clothing, dress mannequins in the latest fashions, assist foster families and other customers shopping in the store, and help with other tasks as needed.

Length of Commitment: At least twenty hours.

Times and Days Needed: Volunteers can help in 3-4 hour shifts from Monday to Sunday.

Requirements: ReFresh volunteers must be at least 15 years or older and submit to an annual criminal background screening through the Family Care Safety Registry. The fashion-minded are encouraged to volunteer at ReFresh.

ReFresh Volunteer Group

Duties: Groups of 5-10 volunteers can sort through clothing donations and select the fashions to sell in the store, merchandise the store, use tagging guns to tag merchandise, and/or dress mannequins.

Times and Days Needed: Volunteer groups are scheduled for a 3 hour period between 11:30am-2:30pm on Thursdays or Saturdays.

Requirements: All volunteers in a group must be 13 years or older. An adult chaperone is required for every 4 youth.

School Supply Drive Organizer

Duties:  Collect new backpacks and school supplies at your company, church, school, child’s troop or sports team, or in your neighborhood. The Coalition distributes these items to children impacted by foster care in August.

Tutor

Duties:  Help a foster or adopted child who is a struggling reader improve his or her reading skills at a public library.

Length of Commitment:   9-12 month volunteer commitment.

Times and Days Needed:  Volunteer tutors meet with their learner twice a week for one hour each time, typically on weeknights and/or the weekend.

Location:  Volunteers choose public libraries where they are willing to tutor.  Then they are matched with a learner who is also able to meet at one of those libraries.

Requirements:  Volunteers must attend a tutor training, be 16 years or older, and have a clean criminal background screening.

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