In this issue: Connectria and Harris Elementary students give gifts from the heart.

Connectria Donates $100,000 to Youth In Need

If there can be such a thing as perfect timing in a pandemic, this was it.

Connectria, in partnership with Bregal Sagemount, has made a $100,000 grant to Youth In Need as part of the Bregal Helps Initiative, a fund created to alleviate human crisis in cities where the company’s subsidiaries are located. Youth In Need will use the grant in its programs that help youth who are at-risk or experiencing homelessness.

Posing significant challenges across the board, the pandemic not only spurred an increased need for Youth In Need’s services, but it also created a sense of uncertainty about future funding.

“Our services just can’t be turned off because there’s a pandemic,” said Pat Holterman-Hommes, Youth In Need’s President and CEO. “During this time, we’ve seen a greater need for what we do, with some truly incredible staff keeping our services going during really challenging times. And in the beginning, we worried about what the pandemic would mean for the funding of those programs. Then came Connectria’s truly wonderful gift, something that will be key to helping us maintain our services to the children and youth who need us most.”

A Youth In Need Children’s Partner since 2014, Connectria vetted several nonprofit organizations in the St. Louis area before choosing to champion Youth In Need through the grant process. Rusty Putzler, Connectria’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, wrote the grant in conjunction with Youth In Need.

The grant will fund Youth In Need’s runaway and homeless youth programs, which are a continuum of services to help at-risk youth find safety and then success in school, work and life. Youth In Need engages thousands of at-risk youth and successfully helps more than 400 youth transition out of homelessness each year. Programs include emergency youth shelter, transitional youth housing, homeless street outreach and crisis response.

Harris Elementary Students Spearhead Exceptional Donation Drive

For a young group of friends, making a difference in their community begins where all great ideas happen: Recess! Victoria Ermeling, Keegan Foust, Arah Turner and Ava Haynes, fourth graders at Harris Elementary School in St. Charles, began talking about helping the homeless during a recess break in December. With the help of their counselor Susan Ballard, the students found Youth In Need and really liked the idea of helping other children in their community.

Over the course of the next month, Victoria, Keegan, Arah and Ava gave up their recesses to make posters and a video promoting their donation drive. They made their own morning announcements at school and arrived early and stayed late to sort and count the items they collected for Youth In Need. Initially, the students hoped to collect 900 items for Youth In Need, but when they delivered their donations earlier this month, they proudly reported they had collected 4,200 items of non-perishable food items and hygiene products!

From left: Keegan Foust, Victoria Ermeling and Arah Turner with just a portion of the 4,200 non-perishable food items and hygiene products they collected with classmate Ava Haynes for Youth In Need.