Charitable Giving Feed

Brunette Games' Year-End Giving Is All About Gardening

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Many of the games we write feature a garden as a key renovation space. In Merge Mansion and Lily's Garden, the garden is the main game-play focus - at least at the game's outset. Lily's great aunt was a somewhat eccentric gardener and beekeeper, and in Merge Mansion, Grandma Ursula seems mysteriously reluctant to step back inside the mansion she's kept hidden away all these years. That's quite all right, as Maddie's pretty content to putter around outside. While the grounds are secondary to the interior decorating in Matchington Mansion, it's an exciting moment when you move out to tackle the overgrown yard, especially when your neighbor-the-gardener shows up. The first thing the protagonist in Ava's Manor does is spruce up the garden, before she's even set foot inside the old British manor. And while we love decorating the many shops in Sweet Escapes, it's the outside areas that often pique our greatest interest: Who can forget the moment when Duncan jumps through the giant donut hole?

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Designing and writing within garden spaces comes naturally to us. Half our team is comprised of avid gardeners, and even those who are relegated to apartment living excel at indoor houseplants. Dexter and Anthony both grew up in farming families. Sara inherited a native plant garden when she and her husband bought their first house last year, and Anthony and Lisa own a 1/4-acre plot of land they've transformed to something they call a 'homestead habitat.' They even blog about the project.

So when we mulled over how to go about our year-end giving for 2021, we naturally thought of gardens. Two organizations stood out as great candidates for our support: Wild Ones and Seed St. Louis.

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This past year, the St. Louis chapter of the national organization Wild Ones blew the doors off membership, growing to become the largest chapter in the U.S. It's easy to see why, as the community here is super volunteer-focused, with active citizen involvement and a great deal of cooperation between organizations when they can share a mission. One example is the St. Louis Audubon Society's Bring Conservation Home program, which enjoys terrific support from Wild Ones in their shared mission to promote native plant gardening.

Founded in 1998, Wild Ones encourages landscaping with native plants in residential, business, and public landscapes. They accomplish this through monthly gatherings at member gardens, grants for native plants to schools and organizations, educational outreach, and annual plant and seed sales and giveaways. Brunette Games is happy to support this important organization.

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Lisa has fond memories as a volunteer during her college years at Saint Louis University in the 1990s, putting in community gardens for a group called Gateway Greening. The organization is still around and serving as a tremendous resource for urban and suburban gardeners, though they've just changed their name to Seed St. Louis. Anthony and Lisa have personally benefitted from the plethora of free workshops on topics like 'how to create an organic backyard orchard' and 'how to extend your growing season.' Seed St. Louis also sells seeds they save from their demonstration garden directly to the public for as little as a dollar a packet, and their 'New Kuroda' carrot variety is phenomenal.

Since 1984, Seed St. Louis has connected people to the land, to their food, and to each other. The organization supports a network of more than 250 community gardens, school gardens, and urban orchards in neighborhoods throughout the St. Louis region. Their purpose is to provide communities with the tools, education, and empowerment to grow their own food.

With crucial issues like climate change and food security top of mind for all of us, Brunette Games is proud to support this amazing organization.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank our clients for trusting us with your game stories. Our work together throughout the year is our joy and sustenance. And finally, a shout out to all the people who play the games we help design; without you, none of this would be possible. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


End-of-Year Charitable Giving at Brunette Games

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As a St. Louis, Missouri-based company, we feel it's important to support our local community. Besides our membership in the Mid-County Chamber of Commerce, we've committed to hiring local talent, volunteering as mentors to students in writing and game design, and supporting the St. Louis Game Development Co-Op. We've also identified two local entities as recipients of our end-of-year charitable contributions: The Backstoppers and Saint Louis University.

During this year of pandemic and strife, no sacrifice stands out to us more than that of our emergency responders. They're the angels who rush in where others fear to tread. When they end up sacrificing their lives for the cause, it's only right that we step in to help their surviving families.

Earlier this year, our headquarters building, which is also a home residence for half our writing team, was threatened by fire. Nothing eased our panic more than the rapid, effective response of not one firefighting unit but seven, as the response came without hesitation from surrounding towns. The blaze was squelched quickly, and thankfully, no one was hurt. But four families lost their homes during an already difficult time.

While the firefighters in our crisis situation suffered no damages of their own, emergency responders in St. Louis this year have suffered heavy losses. In every case, the Backstoppers swooped in to help their families, just as the organization has done every year since 1959. How it helps:

The BackStoppers supports families of fallen heroes by paying off all debt, providing health and dental insurance, reimbursing for out-of-pocket medical expenses, covering tuition and educational costs from day care through university, and assisting with miscellaneous extraordinary expenses.

The Backstoppers currently supports approximately 80 families with 70 dependent children. The organization:

  • Has supported over 170 families since its inception
  • Provides roughly $2 million in assistance annually
  • Has a program expense ratio average of 81% over the last six years

Here's just one example of the families helped by The Backstoppers. This August, an armed gunman ordered a couple out of their home and barricaded himself inside. Responding to the call, Officer Tamarris Bohannon and his partner were shot, Bohannon fatally wounded. Officer Bohannon was 29 years old and left behind a wife and three young children.

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Officer Tamarris Bohannon.

It was a dramatic event, as police talked with the gunman through the night and finally stormed into the house early the next morning, taking the shooter, Thomas Kinworthy, into custody. He's since been charged with first-degree murder, among other charges.

Brunette Games is proud to support a worthy organization making a real difference to families whose own sacrifice deserves recognition.

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We have strong ties to Saint Louis University. First, it's our founder's alma mater - basically the place where Lisa Brunette first honed her writing chops. Says Lisa:

"If it weren't for the brilliant, compassionate professors who fostered my love of writing, I might not be where I am today."

Second, it's the current collegiate home of Brunette Games Writer/Editor Amanda VanNierop, who's working toward degrees in both English and Political Science while simultaneously managing to create new characters and stories for five released games and counting. Amanda was drawn to SLU because she felt at home on campus. She says:

"I love the English department at SLU. Every professor I've met is passionate about literature, and the department itself goes above and beyond in providing opportunities for their students—that's how I learned about the open position at Brunette Games earlier this year."

In thinking about our donation to SLU, we wanted to honor the role of the English department in shaping minds and touching hearts. Studies show that connecting to fictional worlds and the characters who inhabit them can breed empathy. So while we have a self interest in a program that produces writing talent, we also see English departments as key to a better world. 

Lisa worked her way through SLU on a combination of scholarships, paid jobs and internships, and student loans, and Amanda is doing the same. Neither had the luxury of a free ride. As a team who understands the struggle some go through just to obtain a college education, we wanted to support students with financial need as well.

Our contribution to SLU is specifically designated for two funds:

  1. The English Department Development Fund
  2. Saint Louis University Financial Need Scholarship

 We're all proud to help SLU provide its transformative Jesuit education, conduct cutting-edge research, supply compassionate health care, and perform mission-focused service.

Happy holidays to all our clients and friends, and may the new year bring you peace and good fortune.