ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – As we near the end of Black History Month, a century-old institution prepares the next generation to appreciate and even make history themselves.
Annie Malone Children and Family Services helps families in crisis by providing a stable environment. Every child deserves love and protection. But some kids have never known what that feels like.
Paige Davis is learning about that love through the Transitional Living Program offered at Annie Malone. She proudly shows off her bedroom. It’s clean and it’s safe, she says.
“This is like a blessing that`s given to me so I need to utilize that,” Davis said.
A year ago, Paige, now 20, was homeless. She says she’s tried to survive that way by moving throughout the metropolitan area.
“I didn’t like it at all. It was really crazy. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody else,” she said.
Paige was adopted at age 5. She was removed from that home and placed in foster care. She never found a permanent home.
“At 13, I was jumping from placement to placement, up to the point where I was jumping from shelter to shelter, couches to couches, different cities to here,” she said.
Paige has lived with other female teens in the Annie Malone group home. The agency staff is fully aware that their clients live with trauma, mental illness, and poverty, which is producing a growing trend of teens and young adults who age out of foster care but never experience permanent placement.
“Youth who are homeless become homeless adults. So we are really trying to change that trend,” said Leslie Gill, chief operating office for Annie Malone Children and Family Services.
The company’s namesake, Annie Turnbo Malone, began nurturing children 129 years ago. She donated seed money for an orphanage. This generous millionaire built a thriving hair care product line and cosmetology college.
Today the agency also helps families in crisis with short term care. That is done through the crisis center, according to Gill.
“To essentially avoid situations of crisis, abuse, and neglect, we will take care of your children while they stabilize their living situation,” Gill said.
In addition to residential care, the agency runs Emerson Academy Therapeutic School. Left unchecked, emotional scars have lasting impact.
“I’m the type of person that doesn’t really like to open up to a lot of people. Because I feel like anyone I would let in would hurt me,” Paige said.
Paige is getting the help she needs to erase years of pain. She'll soon move into an independent living apartment. To keep these programs running, Annie Malone relies on its biggest fundraiser, the annual May Day parade. Gill says the board and staff want to expand programs.
“There is such a tremendous need,” she said. “So many families are hurting and need more and we want to be able to offer more and expand our services.”
To continue the rich legacy of service, the Annie Malone Children and Family Services invites you to attend its annual May Day weekend.