Did you wake up with a foreboding sense of deja vu? Like you've written the exact same narrative over and over again? There are not too many occasions when I can relate to Bill Murray waking up and reliving the same day, except when I find myself reworking the same narrative for another application. You know the feeling – when you have tried and true narrative pieces that perfectly depict the history, need, and program design that makes you feel like you are stuck on repeat? So, what can you do when the programs aren’t changing, but you need to breathe some life into the writing? Here are some tips to refresh your writing and wake up feeling rejuvenated for a busy grant season!

What about January makes us habitually declare resolutions that will result in a new and improved version of ourselves? It could be that following a season of holiday parties and socks filled with candy, we need a hard reset. Or the accountability en-mass as like-minded individuals dredge out of their homes to the gym. Research shows goal-setters have a higher success rate when starting the commitment to pursue a goal after a temporal landmark (e.g., a new week, month, birthday, or holiday); this is called the “fresh start effect.” This phenomenon of New Year’s resolutions is more common in the United States. A poll conducted for the last three years reports that 44% of U.S. participants set a new goal, while only 12-18% of Swedish residents make a resolution.

This time of year starts to get a little strange between projects wrapping up for the year, the time change I still have not adjusted to, and differing work schedules for holiday plans and using up vacation time. While some like to bank their paid time off to have a full holiday break (which is fully respectable), I like to use this quieter time to work on projects that get pushed to the side during busy seasons. Here are some ways I like to use downtime to my advantage.

With Thanksgiving just over a week away, I find myself taking a few minutes to reflect on the nonprofits that provide services to those individuals in our community who need support. These organizations have diligently served our community through challenging times, some for many years. Their steadfast service and that of their talented staff, uplift our communities. While there are so many amazing organizations I could highlight, I am especially grateful for the following organizations…

The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA) St. Louis Regional Chapter recently received a grant for $23,395 from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to support the Loan Closet Plus program. ALSA will identify persons with ALS in need of the new equipment through established channels of referral and evaluation. If there is no insurance coverage or the device is not insurance eligible, the person with ALS is able to access this equipment through the Loan Closet Plus program free of charge. ALSA returns the equipment to the loan closet when no longer needed in order to make it available for another individual’s use.

Mosaic Life Care Foundation (MLCF) was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Patterson Family Foundation to support a portion of the Phase II Capital costs for their Cancer Survivorship Clinic. Phase II, the 9,000 square-foot Cancer Survivorship Clinic will feature an array of professional services and comfort for patients and families. New additions include a multi-purpose education room; expanded therapy services; wellness and exercise gym; spiritual health services; massage, acupuncture, and acupressure treatment; and a patient library. The capital budget includes general construction supplies and equipment, as well as technology improvements to increase virtual service capabilities for rural residents.

Wichita Children’s Home (WCH) was recently awarded a $31,277 grant from the State Human Trafficking Victims’ Assistance Fund (Kansas) to focus on supporting the depth and breadth of Wichita Children’s Home’s survivor aftercare services for victims of human trafficking (HT). Our primary goal is to empower these young women to heal and achieve self-actualization.

Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI) recently received a grant for $75,000 from the Sarli Family Foundation to sustain core services in 2022. This support will help CCVI meet the ever-present needs of children with visual impairments while recruiting and retaining the highly specialized staff required to deliver services. General support allows CCVI to focus our resources on key services to achieve the best possible outcomes for the children we serve, especially during this difficult time. CCVI teachers, therapists, and specialists will provide services for 275 infants and children in 2022 through the following core program areas:
  • The Early Intervention Program (EIP) offers an individualized educational/therapy program for infants and toddlers, birth through age three, who have significant visual impairments that impact learning. It provides home-based instruction, therapies, and center-based evaluations of developmental progress.
  • The Preschool/Kindergarten Program’s six classrooms combine curriculum with specialized therapies and activities to enhance basic skills while preparing children for inclusion in public or private elementary schools.
  • Outreach Services are provided for school-age children attending public, private, charter, parochial, and state schools that do not have certified teachers of the visually impaired and/or orientation and mobility instructors. Services include assessment and monitoring of functional visual development and training on specialized classroom equipment.
  • Parent/Family Support Programs offer educational and training opportunities for all families, including orientation and mobility training, health care navigation, and other workshops and social gatherings.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois (BBBSIL) recently received a grant for $20,000 from the Joseph H. & Florence A. Roblee Foundation to produce quality, lasting 1:1 mentoring relationships that keep kids in school, out of trouble, and on a path to post-graduation success. Funding will support the identification and recruitment of volunteers, enrollment and interviews of new youth and their families, and regular follow-ups with participants.