I love my work! I get to travel across the country and meet amazing people, working for amazing organizations, with amazing missions that are actually changing lives. That feeling was deepened with my recent visit to Edgewood Children’s Center just outside of St. Louis. As one of the founding agencies of Great Circle, “reshaping vulnerable lives” and “giving children and families the confidence to create bright futures”, Edgewood “provides compassionate care and treatment to restore children and strengthen families.”
My heart breaks for vulnerable and disadvantaged children whether victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment or special learning and social needs. They are so easily forgotten and many times failed by “the system” doing the best it can. But my spirits are lifted and hope restored when I see those devoting their lives, talents, time and resources to give those children and families a fighting chance. Edgewood is one of those places of hope.
Founded in 1834, the Children’s Center appropriately changed its name when relocating to, what at the time was literally the edge of the woods, its current peaceful setting in what is now the edge of St. Louis. Edgewood offers three special programs for non-traditional learners. Programs include one for middle- and upper-school-aged-kids who need assistance with social skills, day treatment programs and education services for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders, and specialized school and day treatment for children with autism or other diagnoses along the Pervasive Development Disorder Spectrum. Edgewood provides both residential and day programs, with specialized care for children and families, including foster children and families, as well as partnering with S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES to assist adolescents and adults who engage in non-lethal, repetitive, self-injurious behaviors.
While just listing the programs is impressive, it doesn’t begin to tell the story of what they truly do and how they care. From the specialized learning programs, to the Garfield Room, the soothing White Rooms, and even the non-buzzing overhead lights to reduce disturbing stimulation for children with certain disorders, the teachers, therapists, case-workers and all of the staff understand the magnitude of what they are doing. Imagine if the only hug you are comfortable with is from a squeezing machine because you can’t deal with the stimulation of human touch. Now imagine knowing the difference it makes in the development and ultimate achievement of these children and their families by providing the feeling of that “hug” that might not otherwise be felt. The staff, volunteers and donors of Edgewood truly provide these children and their families a chance “to create bright futures.” I love to repeat that part of their mission because it is no small feat. No one is deemed to have less of a chance to achieve whatever their bright future may be.
My wife and I toured the entire facility but the most moving place to me was the room of one teenage resident and student. This is someone who will soon be a young adult facing all of the challenges that come with that transition in life. This teenager is allowed to write notes on the wall; a journal of their journey. The words could have been written by any of us such as “almost there, but not quite” along with expressions of trusting others. But this child’s journey and journal would no doubt have completely different entries without the compassion and care provided through an organization that placed itself on the edge of the woods back in the 19th century for one purpose; to give a change at that “bright future.”
Thank you for making me love my work even more by knowing your work.
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