For more than 130 years, the Veiled Prophet Foundation has worked to enrich the quality of life in the St. Louis region through financial support, leadership and volunteer work for various civil and community service projects.
This past summer alone, more than 375 young women, along with their fathers and other family members, logged 3,000-plus volunteer hours working on a number of projects. Those include planting flowers downtown for Operation Brightside, renovation work and home improvements for low-income families through Beyond Housing, painting and general clean-up in St. Louis Public Schools, landscaping for Forest Park Forever, and volunteering at Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club.
Dr. Gregg Berdy and his daughter Emily, a Tulane University sophomore, have devoted many a Saturday to community service. “We’ve gone to the North County area to help rebuild neighborhoods going through tough times,” he says. “There were some houses being gutted, and we’d lend a hand in the rebuilding by cleaning them up and doing some other handyman projects.”
The Berdys also were involved in the Forest Park Forever beautification project this summer. “There were about 40 girls and their fathers all equipped with machetes, clippers, goggles and gloves,” he recalls. “We knocked down some of the overgrowth along Lindell Boulevard and also cleaned up a pond.”
Berdy says with every project, the teamwork is evident. “A lot of these kids have gone to high school together and have grown up together,” he says. “These projects are really a nice way of instilling in our daughters the importance of volunteerism and giving back.”
Rick Hagedorn has two daughters involved in the VP’s Community Service Initiative: Elizabeth is a freshman at University of Missouri; Catherine is a junior at Visitation Academy. “It’s not only about giving back to the community, it’s also an opportunity to bond with your daughter and hang out with all the other girls and their dads,” he says.
In the past, the Hagedorns have participated in rebuilding homes for Habitat for Humanity. “We were hammering, cutting, doing carpentry—whatever was required,” Hagedorn says. “I’m not an expert carpenter, but there’s always a way to help out.” He and his daughters have also worked on getting floats ready for the VP Parade. “It’s year-round work, preparing for the parade. It really takes a tremendous amount of effort to put it together,” he explains. “There’s painting, sanding and cleaning, among other things.”
Hagedorn says it’s amazing to see what the organization can do, even though some of the results are not widely visible. “The public certainly gets to see the floats in the parade, but they really don’t see the kids enjoying upgrades to the neighborhood school or the Habitat family moving in,” he says. “But we come away feeling like we really did something good. And we get to spend time with our daughters—that’s the best thing for me.”