F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Advocacy Center

When families hear the word “disability” many become frozen in their tracks, unsure of which way to turn.  The world of disabilities isn’t something that is easy to navigate.   Thanks to a generous grant from the Jefferson Memorial Community Foundation and The Tilles Foundation, Sunnyhill is able to move past the wishing and onto the hope of a brighter future for families experiencing disabilities.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S., which stands for Finding Resources, Important Everyday Needs and Disability Services, will help families get their footing when faced with a disability.  A division of Sunnyhill, F.R..I.E.N.D.S. will partner with various other organizations to ensure families have the tools they need to conquer challenges they may face.

Tamico Love, who has been with Sunnyhill for two (2) years, will serve as the Director of Advocacy, with offices in St. Louis andDeSoto.  Tamico explains through her very personal story raising a son withprofound disabilities that she “understands the difficulties families face when trying to navigate the often lengthy processes it takes to receive services for your loved ones.”  Her first-hand experience helps F.R.I.E.N.D.S. establish very personal relationships with the individuals the program serves, based solely on understanding and trust.
A resource and advocacy center, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. will connect families through services such as [but not limited to]:

  • Medicaid & Food Stamp Applications
  • Counseling Services
  • Transportation
  • Residential Placement
  • Case Management
  • Recreational Opportunities
  • Adaptability Services
  • Respite Care
  • Disaster Planning
  • Education & Employment
  • Health Services

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is open and ready to serve clients at two offices located in St. Louis and Jefferson Counties:

St. Louis County  – 11140 S. Towne Sq. Ste. 105, St. Louis (314) 487-2545
Made possible througha generous grant awarded by The Tilles Foundation

Jefferson County –  3343 Armbruster Rd. DeSoto (314) 586-2188
Made possible by a generous grant awarded by The Jefferson Memorial Community Foundation

New, Accessible Playground to Open Soon at the J

The Jewish Community Center (The J) is pleased to announce that a new, 8,000 square-foot early childhood playground will be ready for children of all abilities in a matter of weeks at its Marilyn Fox Building in Chesterfield. Upon its completion, it will be one of the only accessible early childhood playgrounds in the St. Louis area.

“This has been a dream project of ours for several years,” said Lynn Wittels, President & CEO of The J.
“We are grateful to our generous funders for making this experience available to our Early Childhood Center families and to families in our community.”

The new playground was made possible thanks to a lead gift from the Tilles Foundation, with additional funds donated by Marie and Stuart Block, Marilyn and Ambassador Sam Fox, and The Trio Foundation.

The playground, which will be accessible to children of all abilities, was designed by Spaces for Play, a company that specializes in early childhood playgrounds. It was designed with input from the J’s Early Childhood Center directors, Inclusion program coordinator, and the Tilles Foundation, which helps deserving children in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area who are in need of physical or educational help.

“We were really excited to provide funding for this great project,” said Larry Linkon, Trustee, The Tilles Foundation. “Everyone involved can be proud that we’ll be providing a meaningful experience for children of all abilities for years to come.”

The expanded playground design includes new play structures for pre-K children and toddlers, and an infant-toddler play area, a garden space with a watering area, a water feature for infants and toddlers, and a drinking fountain.  Nature, music, art, sensory and dramatic play components will also be added.

“All play areas have modifications incorporated so anyone can participate,” said Amy Flesher, Director of The J’s Early Childhood Center at the Marilyn Fox Building. “For example, the art easel is built so a child can approach it on foot or in a wheelchair. We want all children to feel a part of the group. Children with disabilities will be able to participate alongside typically developing children. All children will be able to experience empathy because they’re able to interact with children who are different from themselves.”

The playground will be used primarily by children in J youth programs and camps; however, The J plans to make it available for local families and for open play days for children with disabilities.

The J plans to host the first community open play day and open house immediately following the ribbon-cutting on Sunday, May 15 at 10:30am. All are welcome to attend, and stay and play.

The J is an interactive, multi-generational gathering place that offers a variety of programs and services to both the St. Louis Jewish
community, and the community at large. The Jewish Community Center provides educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building
and recreational programming and offers two, state-of-the art fitness facilities, all designed to promote physical and spiritual growth.
Everyone is welcome at the J.

Jewish Community Center   Staenberg Family Complex   2 Millstone Campus Drive   St. Louis MO 63146    jccstl.org

Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award Goes to Daniel M. Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The 2015 Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award went to Daniel M. Ashe, Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the nation's principal federal agency dedicated to the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats.

"Under Dan Ashe's leadership, the USFWS has enabled the Saint Louis Zoo to undertake conservation efforts from the Pacific Islands to our own state of Missouri," said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. "We could not enjoy the successes we have had without the support and encouragement of the agency that Dan leads so well."

Mr. Ashe was confirmed in 2011 as the 16th Director of USFWS after a lifetime spent within USFWS. His father's 37-year USFWS career meant much of Mr. Ashe's childhood was spent on national wildlife refuges and at fish hatcheries.

Mr. Ashe has served as Science Advisor to the Director of USFWS, providing leadership on science policy and scientific applications for resource management. He shaped an agency agenda toward a science-driven, landscape conservation business model and developed guidelines for scientific peer review and information quality. He built a state-of-the-art, electronic literature databank and strengthened relationships with other federal agencies and scientific professional societies.

Before being named USFWS Director, Mr. Ashe served as Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, directing operations and management of the 150-million-acre National Wildlife System and USFWS' land acquisition program. He also led the migratory bird management and North American wetlands conservation programs, contributing to significant advances in the impact and effectiveness of both.

The Zoo also presented three Saint Louis Zoo Awards to outstanding community leaders at its 24th annual Marlin Perkins Society Celebration on Nov. 18, 2015.

Individual Award

The Saint Louis Zoo Individual Award went to Bill and Kerry Holekamp, longtime Zoo supporters and friends. They are members, major gift donors, special event patrons and legacy donors.

Bill Holekamp served as a Trustee on the Zoo Foundation (now the Saint Louis Zoo Association) from 1997 to 2006 and again from 2008 to 2010. He also served in various leadership capacities during that time.

The generosity of Bill and Kerry Holekamp to the Zoo is recognized at the Rhino Viewing Area in River's Edge and the Wildlife Granary at the Orthwein Animal Nutrition Center. Most recently their leadership support was recognized at the aqua tunnel at Sea Lion Landing in Sea Lion Sound. Their participation in The Living Promise Campaign has helped build new exhibits, improve infrastructure and visitor amenities and strengthen the Zoo's endowment. The Holekamps have been Marlin Perkins Society members for 16 years.

Corporate Award

Nestlé Purina PetCare Company received the Saint Louis Zoo Corporate Award. Nestlé Purina's support of the Zoo goes back more than 25 years, when its predecessor company – Ralston Purina—supported the Saint Louis Zoo.

Nestlé Purina has contributed to the success of a variety of Zoo events over the years, including ZOOFARI and A Zoo Ado (the Zoo's major fundraisers), and has participated in the last two initiatives to raise private funds for a range of causes. The company is recognized at the Entrance Plaza to the Emerson Children's Zoo for its 1996 gift to the Gateway to the Animal World Campaign.

Most recently Nestlé Purina made a gift of $1.2 million to support The Living Promise Campaign—a multi-year initiative that ended at year-end 2014 having raised $134 million in gifts and commitments and exceeding its $120 million goal. In tribute to the company's love for ALL dogs, Purina's gift is recognized at Purina Painted Dog Preserve—one of three new River's Edge animal habitats opened in June 2014.

Foundation Award

The Tilles Foundation received the Saint Louis Zoo Foundation Award. The Tilles Foundation, established in the 1920s, is well-known in the region for grants and scholarships, providing funding to "kids who need a helping hand."

The Tilles Foundation's over $400,000 in grants to the Zoo over the past 15 years have supported a range of projects. The Foundation funded the addition of specialized train cars and accessibility ramps at each of the Zooline Railroad stations, allowing visitors with mobility issues to enjoy the train.

The Tilles Foundation also provided a grant for the installation of power-assist doors to the buildings on Historic Hill—the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium, Peabody Hall, the Primate House and Jungle of the Apes are all equipped with these doors to improve access for disabled visitors.

Most recently, the Foundation funded construction and equipment for a stand-alone Distance Learning Studio in the Zoo's Education Department. This studio allows Zoo educators to provide instruction and share conservation messages with children and students in North and South America, Africa and Asia.

ABOUT THE MARLIN PERKINS SOCIETY: In 1991, the Marlin Perkins Society was formed to honor one of the Zoo's great directors. The Society, which was formed with only 48 members, provides a way to recognize those individuals, corporations and foundations that generously support the Zoo on an annual basis. The Marlin Perkins Society membership has exceeded the 1,080 members, generating $1.8 million annually to help fund Zoo operations.