What is Home Works!, and why did you launch it? I started Home Works! because there are thousands of kids in our region and in the country who come to school already two or three years behind. There is no reading, talking or learning at home for some of them. A lot of parents have multiple jobs and don’t always have the time, or a lot of times the parents didn’t have a good education themselves and they don’t know the importance. So Home Works! trains, supports and pays teachers to go to homes of students and get their families engaged. We want these kids to stay on the level, graduate on time and go on to school or some sort of trade school.
What else are you currently working on? In 2016, there were roughly 166 elections in Missouri and 60 of them did not have a Democrat running. So I asked myself, “What part can I play?” I decided to have events in my home with people running for office. The smallest event was 30 and the largest was 70. I call them “Karen’s educated election events.” Bruce Franks was the largest one. The other thing I am doing is having parties for young people. I want young people to stay passionate and courageous and I want them to stay in St. Louis. A lot of people come here for school and other things and then they leave. The parties are for people ages 23 to 35 and there is just one rule: They can’t talk to anyone they already know.
You left St. Louis for 34 years but eventually came back. What do you enjoy about living here? I don’t want to sound cliché, but I do like the art museum and Forest Park, and they’re free. I like all the institutions here. The history museum. The botanical garden. We have some incredible places that are wonderful and I love showing them off when people come here for a visit. I’m proud of those kinds of things. What I am not proud of is the racism here and I want to do whatever I can to fix that. It is so deeply ingrained in how we treat people here. But there are lots of things to love about St. Louis. The Danforth Plant Science Center is incredible. I love City Garden. I love to walk in Forest Park with my dogs.
What is your typical morning routine? The first thing I do is get into workout clothes, always. I have two trainers that come to my house. I have a person that comes to my house Thursday mornings for other workouts. I also walk my dogs two to three miles some mornings.
Do you work from home? My office is in my home so I’m always working from home. I have three people that work here with me. Home Works! started in my house. We have a small office, but I am here with my personal assistant.
What do you do to relax or de-stress? Here is the thing about that … I don’t have stress. I think the reason that I don’t have stress is I take care of myself. I get manicures, pedicures and massages occasionally. I have no problem taking care of myself. I think that is very important for everyone. I love to shop. It’s my one downfall, but whatever I spend on myself, I donate that amount of money. The other part is that I am really an optimist. I am always looking at the positive side of things. Having a trainer is something I do for myself. It’s important. Having friends is really important in being happy.