Jim Pursley at Lift For Life Gym Event

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In 1988, Marshall Cohen started Lift For Life Gym (LFLG), then, a youth weightlifting team in the basement of Globes Drugs in downtown St. Louis. The purpose of LFLG was to offer impoverished youth constructive, recreational opportunities as an alternative to idleness, crime, drugs, and violence. The program grew over the next 28 years into a full-service after-school youth activity center offering services that are designed to alleviate the burden of poverty and build a sense of resiliency that will help them archive success personally, academically, and professionally. LFLG is now located at 1415 Cass Avenue, serves over 440 youth each year, and provides over 30 different programs.

LFLG’s signature fitness program is the Olympic Style Youth weightlifting. The individuals on this team practice three to five times a week totaling over 4,120 hours each year. The team compiled 62 medals and trophies in 2015 and two of their elite lifters are ranked 4th and 6th in the country as youth (17 & under) athletes for the sport of weightlifting. The program continues to have much success and is an example of how to “Build Strong Minds and Strong Bodies.” LFLG recognizes the importance of physical health, but acknowledges mental health and development as just as essential. LFLG offers academic services such as one-on-one tutoring, homework assistance, college preparation classes, and a digital learning center.

Lift For Life Gym is located in one of St. Louis’ “urban food deserts.” Without a grocery store located within a minimum 5-mile radius, local youth not only lack money to buy affordable healthy food, but due to unreliable and unsafe transportation options, it becomes nearly impossible for inner city youth to gain access to quality food and establish healthy eating patterns. LFLG is dedicated to providing free, nutritious meals for its members daily, using fresh produce from their very own garden.

All of the programs are designed to build a better tomorrow for LFLG’s members. Life skills classes help develop practical lessons for living a productive, healthy life.  In addition to “Strong Minds and Strong Bodies,” strong friendships are built within their walls. LFLG’s youth not only form friendships by working together, but also develop strong bonds with their mentors and coaches. Other mentoring services include life skills classes, college tours and job shadowing, social outings, and a teen transitioning program.

vol 2 2017 pic2On May 6, 2017, Hochschild, Bloom and Company’s marketing partner, Jim Pursley, and his wife Samie, volunteered at the annual St. Louis Microfest, one of the premiere festivals in the St. Louis area. Microfest is a beer tasting festival that offers festival goers the chance to sample international and craft beers at 3 different session times over 2 days. The festival also includes live music, silent auction, food, live brewer, and chef demonstration. Profits from the festival went toward funding LFLG.

To learn more about LFLG, or to make a donation, please visit http://www.liftforlifegym.org/donate/.

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