Photo courtesy of Steve Petersen

It is hard to believe we just held our 5th Annual BACKPACK BLUES Benefit! This was our second year at Broadways Oyster Bar, and it was a great day. The weather, despite being unreliable and rainy this spring, was perfect, with sunshine and temps in the mid-70s. Inside we had incredible silent auction items from BACK@YOU’s generous corporate and individual friends, ranging from baseball tickets to symphony tickets, and restaurant gift cards to local microbrew baskets. Outside we had blues music from some of the best musicians in St. Louis, including Tim Albert and the Boogiemen, and a set by the incredible Renee Smith. A great time was had by all!

Tim Albert and the Boogiemen closed out our show
Photo courtesy of Steve Petersen
Renee Smith wowed the crowed with her set
Photo courtesy of Steve Petersen

Photo courtesy of Steve Petersen

Board changes

We also made some important announcements about the organization. Jim and Becky Biermann have been part of BACK@YOU from the very beginning in 2014. When I decided to buy and fill 20 backpacks from Five Below and crochet 20 scarves to go with them and distribute them to our unhoused neighbors downtown, Becky and Jim volunteered to help. Just a couple of weeks later, BACK@YOU was officially born, and they were on our first board, and Becky was our treasurer. After five years, they are retiring. We are eternally grateful to the time and care they have given us, and they will be missed. Amanda Akin, another supporter since day one, will be joining the board and taking over as treasurer. We are thrilled to welcome her officially to the organization!

Left to right: Amanda Akin, Becky Biermann, and Jim Biermann
Photo courtesy of Steve Petersen

The Jim & Becky Biermann Giving Award

Because of their enormous dedication and contributions, we decided to honor Jim and Becky by creating The Jim and Becky Biermann Annual Giving Award. We will present this award each year to a supporter of BACK@YOU who has shown they care as much about our unhoused neighbors as we do.

Keith Robinson receives inaugural award

Our inaugural recipient was Keith Robinson, who has been integral to our success. Keith is a world-class drummer who has played with greats like Chuck Berry and Johnnie Johnson and has traveled the world over with numerous bands. In early 2015, I asked for his help organizing a benefit to raise money for 200 Citypak Project backpacks. The catch was that we couldn’t pay for anything because we wanted 100% of the proceeds to go to our backpacks. Unfazed, he didn’t hesitate for a second before jumping in with both feet.

Little did I know that Keith’s esteem in the music community would attract the best musicians and performers in the city, as well free venues. Each year since, he has worked tirelessly to put on some of the best shows in St. Louis, paid for exclusively by the generosity of our supporters. The five events Keith produced for us to date have raised over $25,000! Keith is kind, generous, talented, and humble, and no one better deserves our first Annual Jim and Becky Biermann Giving Award.

Keith Robinson totally surprised upon receiving his award Photo courtesy of Steve Petersen
Left to right: Kathy Acre, Keith Robinson, Becky Biermann, Jim Biermann
Photo courtesy of Steve Petersen

As we continue toward our distribution this fall, we will once again be distributing 500 backpacks filled with essentials and a scarf made with love to our unhoused neighbors in the St. Louis area. We hope you will continue to support us with contributions and volunteer hours. Our success would not be possible with you! We are indeed grateful!