Every Wednesday the International Institute of St. Louis offers a lunch prepared by an immigrant-owned catering service. Last week featured a Brazilian menu that sounded good, so I arranged to go with my son, Russ, and grandson, Austin. My grandson was familiar with the lunch program, since he served his Ameri-corps year with the institute.
More Than a 100 Years of Service
The organization has been around for more than a hundred years, having been established to assist an influx of immigrants to the city in the early 1900s. Its first location was above a saloon in the city. Today the Institute has a pleasant campus atmosphere at what was formerly St. Elizabeth’s Academy high school on Arsenal.
The organization continues to serve new waves of immigrants regardless of country of origin, race or religion. More than 8,000 newcomers from 80 countries benefit from their programs and services each year.
During the last 40 years, the institute’s CEO and director Anna Crosslin has been recognized repeatedly for her innovative and caring leadership. She’s been honored by the St. Louis Business Journal, the William T. Kemper Foundation, YWCA, FOCUS St Louis, and named among the “Most Influential St. Louisans.” In 2015, Crosslin was designated White House Champion of Change for World Refugee Day.
Highlight of the Year
Put This on Your Calendar
The annual highlight for the institute and community is the Festival of Nations held at Tower Grove Park. Nearly 150,000 turn out for the August festivity, that features more than 40 food booths, 600 volunteers, non-stop dance and music, arts, crafts and gifts from around the world. I’ve purchased several tablecloths and bits of costume jewelry at the festival over the years in addition to tasting new foods. The day is usually hot as blazes, but still great fun.
Mark this unique, free admission event on your calendar: August 24-25, 2019.