EAST ST. LOUIS — With the turbulent economy today, one longtime advocate for the poor says the key to reaching as many people as possible and giving them quality service is all nonprofits working together.
The advocate, Joe Hubbard, who is the retired executive director of Catholic Urban Charities, will be the guest speaker at this year's Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House anniversary celebration, which marks 104 years of providing for the poor and in the metro-east.
The event at Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville starts at 5 p.m. Saturday with a pre-dinner reception. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. This year's honorees are Dr. Richard Bonner, a retired educator in East St. Louis; Dr. Martin Wolske, a professor at University of Illinois; and Javier Duren, a student at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
Hubbard said he plans to talk about the need for nonprofits to work together to provide resources for families so that more families can have their needs taken care of, and services are not duplicated.
"In the last 40 years that I have been working with Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, I found out that there are a lot of opportunities for nonprofits to network and work together. And when we have done this, it has been my experience that we service the people who are in need in a quality manner, and we serve more," Hubbard said.
Hubbard recalled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when many people had nowhere to go, and many were dropped off in East St. Louis.
"Working together, we were able to service their needs," Hubbard said. "If we use our resources in one common way by partnering, we can work on the whole person."
He added, "We are also there to provide ministry. We are there to support them and help them through their hard times and help them to get out of poverty any way we can."
Hubbard said sometimes he and others work 24 hours a day.
He talked of how bad the need is due to the downturn of the economy. Services are being increasingly cut. Babies are dying from a lack of prenatal care. Hubbard said since March, his organization has helped to pay for the burials of 30 babies.
"There aren't as many services available to the poor as there once was. And, if we don't all work together with our money, time and talent, we won't be able to help as many people as we do," Hubbard said. "Years ago when Bill Kreeb, eecutive director of Lessie Bates Neighborhood House, was younger, he would walk to Springfield to call attention to funding issues surrounding programs for the poor."
Hubbard said it "takes faith, love and all of us reaching out to help someone. Some individuals are alcoholics, drug users, or come from dysfunctional families. It's about love, charity, hope and vision."
Hubbard said people hear many negative things about East St. Louis. "But there are a lot of good people in these areas, too. Some of them are just down on their luck," he said.
Tickets are still available for the event. A single ticket is $45. Tables of eight will cost $340.
A silent auction will be held. This year more than 180 baskets have been donated for the auction.
The Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, serving the East St. Louis area, is a United Methodist community center whose mission is to improve the quality of life for residents.