Give STL Day Spotlight: LOVEtheLOU

By Ranen Miao
Community Investment Intern

St. Louis is a city with a history rich in culture and power, but also marred by racism, poverty and structural violence. LOVEtheLOU is a local nonprofit that has developed community initiatives in districts of North St. Louis to connect the right resources to the needs that exist within these neighborhoods. Through three key programs, STL | LIFT, STL | LINK, and STL | LIVE, LOVEtheLOU engages in projects to reverse the trends of poverty and racism and unify the city of St. Louis. Read more about the three key programs here.

With the start of COVID-19, LOVEtheLOU has had to adapt to public health guidelines. In a typical summer, LOVEtheLOU brings in around 1,000 volunteers to work with students in the Enright gardens. This summer, while students could continue going to gardens, the number of volunteers was restricted to team leaders and family groups to complete certain projects. COVID-19 has also impacted access to jobs, leading LOVEtheLOU to begin distributing groceries to over 125 families in the region.

The uncertainty caused by COVID-19 compelled LOVEtheLOU to invest more deeply in their Give STL Day campaign. “LOVEtheLOU participates in Give STL Day because it provides us with a great opportunity to get our name and mission out to the entire St. Louis community,” said Alana Janssen, the Volunteer Development Coordinator for LOVEtheLOU. “Give STL Day is also great timing as it is a few months before we start our summer programming. The summer is our busiest season, so having the funding from Give STL Day really sets us up for success each year.”

This year, LOVEtheLOU more than doubled their fundraising numbers from the year before, raising over $16,000. With this funding, they will be able to move towards their long-term goal of working to advance racial equity through neighborhood stabilization. Founder and Executive Director, Lucas Rouggly, explained that “the best way to stabilize neighborhoods is by focusing on affordable housing, economic development, and youth programming.” In the future, they also hope to invest in providing career pathways for young adults and creating an Enrichment Center to centralize LOVEtheLOU activities.

While COVID-19 has brought much uncertainty and struggle, it has also offered LOVEtheLOU an opportunity to grow. “COVID-19 has provided us with a lot of time to hope and dream about the future of LOVEtheLOU and North St. Louis,” Janssen told us. “Our dream is to create neighborhood stabilization throughout all of North St. Louis that is self-sustaining.”

Want to support LOVEtheLOU and their work? You can visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to find out more.