June 2021
Deaconess Community,

Fatherhood is a sacred identity. It is not conferred automatically nor does it belong exclusively to any one individual. There are various ways that we get to have or be fathers. Many people have assumed the role and responsibility for parenting young people with or without any legal or biological connection. The title father belongs to the person who acts on the decision to do everything they can to provide for the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of a child.

Doing the internal work to heal is a necessity for being a responsible and honorable father. None of us escapes the hurts of living in this oppressive society. We endure the pervasive effects of racism, sexism, economic exploitation and mental health oppression. These are but a few expressions of oppression with long-lasting impact that manifest in a variety of harmful ways, from self-doubt to self-hate, from low expectations to patterns of abuse or addiction. One predictable consequence of not getting the help and healing we need for our own well-being is the high likelihood that we will inadvertently pass that trauma and those hurts on to the next generation – or as the saying goes, “hurt people, hurt people”. 

My father was a good man. I didn’t always know that. As a boy I didn’t have enough information to understand the ways that the intersections of the circumstances of his life – a Black male born during the height of Jim Crow and raised poor – set him up the ways it did and often showed up in harmful ways. Fortunately, given enough resources, it is possible for the process of recovery and healing to happen. We are bigger and better than any circumstance.

Eventually, as I got a better picture of the impact of systemic racism, sexism, and classism, it was easy to stop blaming him, and turn to the real work and commit to building a just and equitable society and eliminating the oppressive conditions that cause harm to our lives.

As we honor fatherhood especially this month, join us in honoring the life and legacy of two members of Deaconess’ family who were truly servant leaders on this side of heaven: Mr. Wesley Douglas Hurt, Jr., Deaconess Foundation Trustee, and Mr. Halbert Sullivan, Sr., Founder of Fathers & Families Support Center, Deaconess Foundation Impact Partner.
Wesley Douglas Hurt, Jr.
Mr. Hurt, a beloved son, husband, father, and grandfather, had a passion for peace and social justice for free and incarcerated individuals. The son of a Tuskegee Airman, Mr. Hurt graduated from Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts-Math degree and went on to work at Westinghouse in Baltimore in the aerospace department. Following graduate studies, he worked in a program for the rehabilitation of prisoners released back into society. After relocating to St. Louis, he worked at Monsanto in the division of environmental science before starting his own engineering company, E.R.M. Technologies, Inc. He committed dedicated opportunities to teens and young adults for summer employment at E.R.M. to gain job experience.

For over 25 years, Mr. Hurt was compassionate in his service as a member of the Division of Youth Service at Missouri Hills and Hogan Street Children’s Homes. He was a member of Christ The King United Church of Christ, formerly known as Independent Congregational Church, for over 40 years and served in various regional and national capacities in the United Church of Christ.
Halbert Sullivan, Sr.
Mr. Sullivan, a beloved son, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, dedicated his life to producing positive outcomes for children. The eldest of eight children and a native of Memphis, Tennessee, Mr. Sullivan earned a college degree at 44 years-old and then, at age 47, a master's degree in social work from The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis after turning the traumatic experiences – incarceration and substance abuse – of his youth and young adulthood into power. After working as a social worker with Saint Louis Public Schools, he founded Fathers’ Support Center (Fathers and Families Support Center) in 1997 with the intent of transforming absent fathers into nurturing parents using the lessons he learned. Since then, the organization has helped more than 18,000 fathers become financially and emotionally involved parents with the skills necessary to support a family, in turn, making a positive impact in the lives of nearly 45,000 children.

Today, Fathers and Families Support Center has more than 55 full-time employees and an annual budget of $4.5 million. Mr. Sullivan received the Gold Pin for the President's Volunteer Service Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Partnership of Community Leadership, was named the 2017 Nonprofit Executive of the Year in St. Louis, and received honors from the NAACP, Missouri Association of Social Welfare, Washington University and the governor of Missouri.

Mr. Sullivan described his life’s journey in a 2018 article for The St. Louis American's Homegrown Black Male series, entitledMy journey to training responsible fathers.
In service to our children,

Rudolph Nickens, Jr.
Board Chair
Deaconess Foundation
Fathers & Families Support Center (FFSC) is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families by encouraging committed and responsible parents. Since 1997, FFSC has worked to break the cycle of poverty, child neglect and abuse, and welfare dependence by educating and preparing fathers to become responsible parents with the financial stability to support their children materially and the parenting skills to support them emotionally and developmentally.
FFSC has been a staple for families in the community, transforming men into responsible and involved fathers and reuniting them with their sons and daughters. Since 2015, FFSC has been offering Parenting In Partnership, a co-parenting project designed to support women in their efforts to become positive role models and proactive mothers for their children. Through its partnership with the Department of Corrections, FFSC also assists incarcerated parents by bringing its 6-week Family Formation program (with year-long follow up) to the downtown Transition Center of St. Louis. Along with parenting skills, economic stability and building healthy relationships, FFSC offers career certification resources and job placement to clients who are incarcerated and transitioning back into the community as productive, responsible citizens. Since 2002, FFSC also served at-risk youth in the community through its Youth Leadership and Development Program, offering one-on-one mentoring, GED and college prep, job placement, group field trips and more.
Deaconess Foundation funds Fathers and Families Support Center through our Leadership Grant Portfolio. A former Impact Partner since 2008, the Leadership Grant funds capacity building sustainability work for the organization, including investment in governance and strategic planning alongside staff training and development.
Learn more about Fathers & Families Support Center: fatherssupportcenter.org.

Since April, Deaconess Foundation has published a series of Vaccine Education Digests in an effort to provide helpful information and resources to assist our community with making an informed decision about vaccination, bring insights from people in our community who are deeply engaged in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, and share the work of our partners addressing health disparities. Our guest contributors included Angela Fleming Brown, CEO of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission (RHC), Rick Stevens, President of Christian Hospital, Larry McCulley, President and CEO of SIHF Healthcare and CEO of Touchette Regional Hospital, and the voices of youth in our community, 12-year-old Milo and 13-year-old Gabrielle.
There are many resources available in our community to continue to be informed. In an effort to continue to increase public awareness and education, PrepareSTL and the Regional Response Team in partnership with volunteer medical providers invites community members, churches, and organizations to request a vaccine education event through the Vaccine Education Speakers Bureau program. The presentations center the physical and material well-being of African Americans and Communities of Color, healing from trauma, and informedchoices regarding the vaccines. If requested, volunteer speakers will share a 10-minute presentation and reserve an additional 20 minutes for questions and answers. Speakers will not encourage individuals to take or not take the vaccine; rather, they will share information about the vaccine to help individuals make an informed choice.
In addition, for those who choose to receive vaccines, the RHC seeks to connect vaccination providers to organizations that wish to host a vaccination event onsite within their community. Events can be held at local churches, community centers, nonprofit organizations, and other accessible sites. Organizations provide the location and assist in scheduling appointments, while the medical partner oversees vaccine administration. While submitting a form does not guarantee an event will be held with your organization, organizations are welcomed to express interest in holding a vaccination event by completing and submitting this form.
As COVID-19 cases decline and vaccination rates increase, many organizations are considering steps to ensure safe re-entry into the workplace. Additionally, leaders are exploring how telework/remote work practices could be incorporated into future operations. In May, Deaconess Foundation staff facilitated a conversation with our Anchor Institution and COVID-19 Just Recovery Cohort leaders to delve into varying approaches for safe re-entry and practices that each partner could consider when developing their own transition plans. While every organization’s strategy will be unique to their respective organizational needs, culture and capacity, the resources noted below were gathered to capture a range of options that could inform leaders’ organizational plans for re-entry.

Remote Work Considerations – For many organizations, the past year has been their first attempt at operationalizing remote work practices – with many lessons learned along the way. Key to any remote work policy is ensuring that options are functional to meet organizational missions and clear guidance is provided about the resources available - laptop computer, office supplies, secure virtual private network (VPN - access to support conditions for work outside of the office). The National Council of Nonprofits offers practical pointers to establishing telework policy and procedures in this article, Remote Workers and Telecommuting Practices for Nonprofits.

Sample Telework Policies – The following telecommuting policy samples were shared with partners to provide context on options that leaders may consider when formalizing a telework policy including this sample from Global Workplace Analytics and this template from Workable. These practical templates can serve as helpful guides to creating or updating a policy tailored to organizational needs.

Re-entry Checklist – Leaders are processing how to ensure that re-entry occurs in a safe manner that encompasses the approach that works best for their respective team’s culture. This checklist from the National Association of Realtors offers general guidance to ensure that safety protocols are implemented. For many, a gradual phase-in approach – with clear guidelines for staff around how and why phases change – is a manageable, realistic choice.

We hope these resources prove valuable to partners as leaders determine the right approach to re-entry for their teams in the days ahead.
Funding Opportunities – Visit our website for a list of funding opportunities for 2021.
In May, we were pleased to report on the broad support for the North Central Plan from both the community and city officials. On June 9th the City of St. Louis Planning Committee approved the request for a public hearing to consider the apotion of the asset-based, resident-centered Plan as a Topical Plan for the Vandeventer and Covenant Blu-Grand Center Neighborhoods. Though a date has yet to be set for the public hearing, the public notice will invite public comment from the community at-large.

We encourage you to review the final North Central Vision Action Plan.

In March Deaconess announced the opening of the nomination and application period for the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Deaconess Foundation. Since then, Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, received nominations and applications for the position and the Executive Search Committee conducted interviews with a selection of candidates. The Search Committee has narrowed its pool of candidates and selected three finalists. The finalists will present to and have further meetings with a variety of constituencies before the executive search concludes.
Landlord and housing advocates say eviction moratoriums are not enough

Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The eviction crisis advocates fear is on the horizon will likely have a disproportionate impact on communities of color, single female-led households and households with children. That’s according to a new report from the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing & Opportunity Council.

“We thought it happened, we felt like it was happening, but we wanted to look into the data,” explained Marissa Cohen, education coordinator for EHOC and one of the main authors of the report.

And despite a variety of pandemic-related eviction moratoriums at federal and local levels, Cohen and her colleagues found that more than 5,000 evictions still were filed in St. Louis and St. Louis County between March 2020 and January 2021. Some of those have been carried out, Cohen said. Read more >>>

Missourians, health care providers pause plans as Medicaid expansion heads to court

Tessa Weinberg and Rudi Keller |The Missouri Independent

Nina Canaleo wishes she could have known years ago she would one day be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Maybe then she could have better prepared.

Nearly six years ago Canaleo was diagnosed with the chronic nerve disease, which leaves her dizzy and her feet feeling numb all the time. After a recent hospital stay, just walking was a challenge.
“I was just like, ‘Oh, god, I’m not even 40 yet,” Canaleo recounted. “This isn’t supposed to be happening yet.”
Canaleo, who is 38 years old and lives in Kansas City, works nights cleaning at a grocery store. She usually works 18 to 25 hours a week, earning about $14,000 a year with no health insurance, she said. Read more >>>
Decolonize Your Board by Natalie A Walrond | Stanford Social Innovation Review | Summer 2021

It Is Our Duty to Fight For Our Freedom by Kayla Reed and Kandace Montgomery | The Forge | May 2021

U.S. Labor Shortage? No, We Have a Crisis of Low Wages. by Heidi Shierholz | In These Times | May 2021

Trust the People by Blake Strode & Amy Morris | Stanford Social Innovation Review | Summer 2021

A Win For Children: A Systems-Change Approach | Missouri Foundation For Health | June 2021 
June 19: Juneteenth Cookout at Fairground Park (3715 Natural Bridge Ave, St. Louis, MO 63107) hosted by Faith for Justice, St. John's Church, Action St. Louis, Homes for All - St. Louis, Freedom Arts & Education Center, and more. 4-7 PM. No registration is required.

July 1: Rally at the Governor’s House – Respect our Vote & Secure Medicaid! Hosted by Missouri Jobs with Justice and Missouri Health Care for All. Begins at 11 AM. Click here for more information.
July 15 - 18: PrepareSTL is hosting a “Living Well” Summit to re-center through a number of in-person and virtual sessions on grief, joy and pleasure, wellness and how we heal together. The summit will be free of charge. More information is forthcoming and will be available here.
July 20 - 22: 27th Annual CDF Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry: “Listening to the Children: A Radical Revolution of Values.” The virtual conference is free of charge. Click here for more information and to register.

Through August 15: The COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period for Marketplace health insurance is open. If you have children in your household age 18 or younger, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri's Connecting Kids to Coverage program may be able to offer enrollment assistance. Call for information: 314.256.8753.

Action St. Louis is hiring for the position of Policy Coordinator. Click here to learn more about the position and how to apply.

Generate Health is hiring for the position of Community Network Coordinator. Click here to learn more about the position and how to apply.

Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) is hiring for several positions, including Executive Director, Program Support Assistant, OBS Youth Organizer and OBS Racial Justice Organizer. Click here to learn more about each position, and to apply.

Do you have an event you'd like to see in this Newsletter? Submit it here!
On May 21, our partners Faith for Justice hosted “Why We Stand with Palestine.” This event was a virtual teach-in and learning space centering why Christians can fully support the Palestinian freedom struggle.
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