To kick off the new year, we asked some of St. Louis’ biggest community boosters about their hopes for their favorite causes in the upcoming year:

Tom Eschen

“For the New Year, I have the usual hopes and wishes for organizations I care about: that they become more effective in carrying out their missions, more innovative and efficient in their operations, and ultimately that they help more people. But beyond the annual dusting off of the mission statement, my wish is that we take time to reflect on why we even have nonprofit organizations.

“In Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the central character, Emily, asks, ‘Does anyone ever realize life while they live it?’ The stage manager replies, ‘No. Saints and poets maybe ... they do some.’

“At the heart of the uniquely American institution of the nonprofit and its complementary notion of philanthropy is the basic belief that it’s good to be alive, a belief in the inherent value and worth of each individual, and a shared commitment to help those in need. Some of us are more fortunate than others, but we are all in this world together and no one gets out alive.

“To remember that, to ‘realize life while they live it,’ might just bring out the ‘saints and poets’ in us all.”

Barbara Goodman

“I wish them continued success and hope that 2014 brings even more success than in past years. In our arts community, we have some wonderful outreach programs that benefit children, teenagers and adults, and they envelop all these people in music, and the performing and visual arts. Beyond just their regular programming, they also take their wonderful programs into the schools, or bring schools in to see their performances.

“This time of year is a great time for people to review their giving, and Ladue News is one of many great resources for finding out about all of the worthwhile nonprofits doing work in the community. With the improving economy, I hope that there’s more money coming into their coffers. Things are looking up and as the economy hopefully continues to grow in 2014, there might be more outpouring of help for nonprofits. They’ve all done so much good for St. Louis, and I think we should just be proud and thrilled at the number of organizations we have that benefit the community.”

Debra Hollingsworth

“This is such a phenomenal philanthropic community: People give their time, money and expertise as generously as in any community I’ve ever lived in or seen. My wish is for more givers in St. Louis. I would like for them to find an organization that they’re interested in and give—even if its just time, it doesn’t have to be money. One of my favorite avenues is through education; it’s the greatest gift we can have. There are so many people who don’t even have the basics in education, or even just basic needs of living, which is so critical this time of year in particular.

“The bottom line is just get involved in whatever way you can. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Theresa: If you can’t feed 100 people, just feed one. Give whatever you’re capable of giving; it could be the smallest gift, but it will change people’s lives.”

Ken & Nancy Kranzberg

“Our wish is that the charitable organizations will be able to raise more money in 2014 than they did in 2013. Whenever you give, you always hope that the nonprofit is successful in doing the work of their mission. Fundraising is absolutely essential to achieving that goal, and hopefully they’ll be able to raise even more this year to do that work.”

Phyllis Langsdorf

“My wish for 2014 is that our cultural institutions continue and expand their educational outreach. I would also hope that they continue to excite and broaden our horizons. In addition, I hope that our community continues to support our not-for-profits with dollars and volunteer hours, for without both, our not-for-profits cannot exist.”

Peggy Ritter

“I hope for all of the nonprofits that their fundraising efforts are well-rewarded in 2014. There are myriad great causes in this city and a lot of volunteers who are helping out. St. Louis is probably one of the most generous cities—both corporately and individually—in the country. Now that we’ve made it through the recession, I hope it’s a banner year for all the charities in St. Louis.”

Norma Stern

“I’ve worked for years and years for nonprofits, I’m interested in everything—I’m on the board of the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College, I’ve worked with St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors, and I just finished seven years on the board of Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri. With the economy as it is, I think we’ve done very well with raising money for charity. We have to take care of people; those of us who are lucky in life need to give back. I am optimistic, and I think it’s going to get better with God’s help. At 87, I’m not going to stop, I’m going to go forward; but we need new ideas and young blood. We’re working to get a great team of young people to follow through.”

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