DSAGSL Volunteer Program – by Abby Brandon

Volunteers are crucial to the success of an organization. As the Volunteer and Event Manager, it’s my job to recruit quality volunteers for our programs and events, ensure that they are well prepared to perform their duties, and are satisfied with their experience.

Volunteers come to the DSAGSL in many different ways. I make sure that all of our volunteer postings on Facebook, VolunteerMatch, and local university websites are up-to-date, since many people find us through these platforms.  No matter what, I always respond to a volunteer inquiry within 24 hours. We usually have two different types of volunteers, so my responses vary slightly.

Program volunteers are people who want to make a regular commitment to our organization. They usually have a particular skill or interest area, and almost always have experience with people with disabilities. These volunteers must fill out a basic volunteer application and submit to a background check.  We meet with them at least once before they begin volunteering and provide a detailed orientation and summary of the program, and typically plan out the program sessions together. All of our programs are either partially or completely run by volunteers, so it’s important to secure reliable, experienced, enthusiastic people for all of our wonderful programs! We make sure to check in with these volunteers regularly and will begin sending them quarterly surveys so that we can properly assess our programming and overall volunteer experience.

Event volunteers also want to make a regular commitment to our organization, but perhaps not on a weekly basis. Event volunteers must fill out a basic volunteer application, but they do not have to submit to a background check. On event day, we host a brief orientation for event volunteers, providing a brief overview on Down syndrome, our organization, and the purpose of the event.  Event volunteers will begin receiving surveys after each event so that we can properly assess our event management and overall volunteer experience.

One of the most important parts of my role as Volunteer and Event Manager is follow-up! I send thank-you notes to all event volunteers no more than one week after the event, and always make sure to maintain email communication; I don’t let more than a month go by without emailing my volunteers! I want to see as many volunteers return to our events as possible and I know making them feel appreciated is a huge part of that. Not only do I want them to know that their contribution matters, I want them to really get to know our members and become advocates for people of all abilities.

I am continually working to improve our volunteer program and really can’t wait to see where it goes from here. To all the volunteers reading this- we cannot thank you enough! You are such an important part of the mission of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis and I hope you’ll continue to help us grow and improve as an organization!

Special Olympics – by Abeo Anwisye

My name is Abeo Anwisye. I am 24 years old. I participate in Special Olympics.

I play basketball, softball, tennis, bowling and volleyball.

We had a state basketball tournament in March, and we won both games! We got medals at the end.

For tennis, we have a good coach, Jeremie Ballinger. I also earned a medal for tennis.

My other coaches, Pat Hawkins and Mr. Jack are really fun too and play the sports with us!

In my picture, I have on all my medals!


DSAGSL Awards Second Scholarship to Mike Nester

DSAGSL is proud to announce the formation of a new scholarship program.  We are currently the only scholarship granting organization in the state of Missouri under Bryce’s Law, which is legislation passed to provide opportunities for assistance to students with developmental disabilities.

Thanks to the vision and generosity of our Board of Directors, DSAGSL has developed criteria for awarding scholarships.  We are also pleased to announce the second recipient of our DSAGSL scholarship, Mike Nester.  Mike is a student in the SUCCEED program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  SUCCEED is a post-secondary program for students with disabilities, and welcomes students from throughout our region.

A limited amount of scholarship funding remains available this fiscal year (through June 30) from DSAGSL.  Below is the scholarship criteria we have developed, and we encourage any interested applicants to visit DESE’s site for Bryce’s Law as well for additional info. You can download an application for a DSAGSL scholarship here.  Please direct any questions about this program to Jeremie Ballinger at 314.961.2504 or jeremie@dsagsl.org.

Criteria for the Scholarship and Assistance Program:

A pool of funds are available annually through the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis.  Please note that all funds are available as they become available each fiscal year, and that each case is considered as it arrives in our office based on the remaining funds available.

Scholarships are available based on the criteria outlined in Bryce’s Law (Section 161.825 RSMo).  Full details can be obtained through the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education via phone, email or the DESE website.  DSAGSL has identified the following criteria in addition to Bryce’s Law standards:

DSAGSL Scholarship Determination Criteria

  • Scholarship recipients will have a diagnosed genetic / chromosomal condition
    • Including, but not limited to: Down syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Turner syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Angelman syndrome
  • Recipients, within their application packet, will present a documented need both financially and educationally
  • Scholarship recipients will reside within the Greater St. Louis area.  In addition to the defined metro area, Greater St. Louis includes cities that have a recognized DSAGSL Community Group.
  • Scholarships are available to applicants of any age, given they meet our additional criteria
  • Additional criteria may be determined by DSAGSL, its board and staff based on any combination of factors, such as the amount of scholarship funding available or the number of applications received.

Award Payment:

  • The scholarship funds awarded are to be used solely to pay for educational and job training expenses.
  • All scholarship awards will be paid directly to the institution or service provider.
  • Scholarship awards must be used in the 12-month period following the date of application.  Should an award winner seek the renewal of a scholarship, a new application must be submitted.  Previous receipt of a DSAGSL scholarship does not guarantee nor prohibit a person from receiving an additional scholarship.