6 Ways to Spend Summer Making St. Louis a Better Place

Categories: Summer Guide

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Jennifer Silverberg
Archie, Frankie Slayer the Party Mayor's official Party Dog, could volunteer were he not partying so hard.

Volunteer your dog
Did your pup nurse you through a breakup, warm your little heart this chilly winter or make your grandmother squeal with delight? Then Fido could have what it takes to become a certified therapy dog. Canine Helpers Allow More Possibilities (4910 Parker Road, Florissant; 314-653-9466 or www.champdogs.org), or C.H.A.M.P. for short, is a nonprofit that offers visitation teams of pooches trained to provide affection and comfort to people who need it. With their owners, therapy dogs visit hospital patients, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, senior citizens and others who could use a little canine comfort. Executive director Pam Bolton says that something magical happens when someone going through a tough time gets to visit with a dog. "You can walk into a hospital room where someone is in so much pain, and they'll see one of our dogs and their faces will just light up instantly," she says. The best therapy dogs already have gentle, affectionate temperaments and basic obedience skills before they undergo the 40-hour training. Bolton says many other organizations want to be added to the roster of 60 facilities that their therapy dogs visit, but C.H.A.M.P. needs more volunteers and dogs to make it happen.

Salvage the city
At Refab (4153 Bingham Avenue; 314-357-1392 or www.refabstl.org), work crews practice "sustainable deconstruction," that is, rescuing reusable materials from buildings that would have otherwise been indiscriminately demolished. The nonprofit model offers businesses with buildings that must come down an eco-friendly alternative to traditional demolition, and preservation lovers an opportunity to recycle and reuse viable materials. Low-income veterans get jobs at demo sites, and in the warehouse in south city, consumers fall in love with Refab's eclectic selection of affordable vintage fixtures, clawfoot tubs, retro lab equipment (salvaged from the old Mallinckrodt labs downtown), restaurant booths, gorgeous reclaimed lumber and countless other delights. The concept is ambitious, creative and uniquely St. Louis. Refab recruits volunteers to help out on their demolition crew, and they usually get first pick of the booty.

Next: How to help heal the Delmar divide or be a St. Louis ambassador.

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