From weeding out flower beds to brightening rooms with a fresh coat of paint, the Veiled Prophet Organization is doing what it can to make a difference in the community. Its Maids of Honor Project is a community service initiative that encourages girls and their families to participate in volunteer projects with local nonprofits before they are presented at the annual ball. We asked four young women who walked this year to share how they gave back.
Caroline and Paige Murphy
Even before they fulfilled their own commitment to the VP community service initiative, Caroline and Paige Murphy got a chance to get involved. Their sisters, Nancy and Kathleen, were presented at the ball in previous years, and the twins helped out in projects that included cleaning and painting homes in North County. “It was a great experience getting to work alongside my sisters,” Caroline Murphy says. “When you’re able to spend time and work with your family, it makes it more fun.”
When it came time for their own commitment, Caroline and Paige spent the last two summers volunteering at Gateway 180, where they helped repaint the bedrooms, hallways and the exterior of the women’s shelter. In addition, they helped out at Northside Community School, where they painted, put up new wallpaper and cleaned out classrooms. The girls appreciated the chance to work with their father and follow his lead during the projects. “He really helped motivate us and showed us exactly what to do so we would do a good job,” Caroline explains.
Now the twins, sophomores at Saint Louis University, are looking to stay involved in the community. Caroline volunteers at Our Lady’s Inn as part of SLU’s women’s studies program, while Paige is applying for an alternative spring break and plans to start tutoring next year. While all of the Murphy sisters now have walked at the VP ball, they value the volunteer opportunities the organization offers its members. “It gave us a chance to get out and see the city, especially parts that we don’t usually get to see,” Paige says. “It’s a great way to give back to your community and neighbors.”
For Molly Frane, working alongside the members of the community at Wayside Community Garden in Normandy was the most fulfilling part of her work with the Maids of Honor Project. Organized through Beyond Housing, the day was spent pulling weeds and planting flowers and vegetables in the garden, or helping to clean the large Victorian home that sits on the property. “It was really neat to meet the people who live in the neighborhood and work directly with those who are benefiting from this community garden,” explains the University of Richmond sophomore.
Molly's other contributions also centered around landscaping and beautifying other locales around St. Louis. At Rainbow Village, she helped with the gardening and tidying of the grounds. A rainy, cool July morning was spent with Brightside St. Louis, cleaning and gathering leaves at Lake Louie alongside Interstate 64, while another day was reserved for landscaping the premises of City Hall, including the median flower beds on busy Market Street. Working alongside her dad, Molly was able to meet other members of the VP organization, as well as fellow debutantes. “It was really exciting to have such a big group of people working together on a project, while getting a chance to know them in this community-service setting.”
But beyond the chance to bond with the other volunteers, Molly was inspired by the opportunity to give back, while witnessing the diversity of the community—something she hopes to continue next semester by working with an English-as-a-second-language program. “We reached out to all parts of the city and met so many different people along the way,” she says. “It really opened my eyes to all that St. Louis has to offer.”
When Susanne Ittner and her fellow volunteers finished weeding, mulching and cleaning the grounds of Rainbow Village, she saw the reaction of the residents. “We didn’t do all that much, but it really made a difference, and I saw how appreciative they were of what we did,” she says.
In addition to Rainbow Village, the sophomore at Texas Christian University also participated in projects with Forest Park Forever and Beyond Housing. Getting up early on a Saturday in the summer and landscaping or painting gave Ittner extra time to spend with her father. “It was my first time doing volunteer work with my dad and it was a great opportunity to bond with him while doing something good for others,” she says.
While Susanne participated in a volunteer internship as a senior at Whitfield School, and will help out next semester at a Ronald McDonald House through her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, she credits her involvement in the VP community service initiative with giving her a broader view of the outside world. “I think it makes us appreciate more how fortunate we are. I felt like I did something good in the world—there are so many people out there who are in need, and it’s so important to do something for them, no matter how big or small.”