In 2014, Epworth Children & Family Services celebrates 150 years of helping kids find their strengths and of serving the community with its lineup of programs to help children build a brighter future. To commemorate the milestone and honor longtime supporters Noemi and Michael Neidorff, Epworth will host its Pillar of Strength Award event Feb. 15. “Considering we’re celebrating 250 years since St. Louis’ founding, 150 years as a nonprofit is pretty extraordinary,” notes Donna Wilkinson, the event’s honorary chair. “Epworth certainly has stood the test of time and has been really great for the community.”
Michael Neidorff, chairman, president and CEO of Centene Corporation, and wife Noemi became involved in Epworth because of a vision shared by Centene and Epworth, notes Wilkinson, who has worked with the couple on many different charitable projects. “Foster care is an important part of Centene’s overall health commitment to St. Louis and to the other communities it serves, so it resonated with them that this is one of the hallmarks of what Epworth does,” she says. “As a couple, the depth and breadth of the Neidorffs’ involvement has been truly extraordinary. They’ve been outstanding contributors on both a financial level and in terms of their time, energy and leadership. I don’t have enough superlatives to talk about them.”
Epworth itself serves more than 5,300 youth and families each year through a variety of programs, including residential care, special education, abuse and neglect prevention, family reunification, emergency shelter, transitional living, aging-out services, homeless youth outreach, life skills, foster-care case management, and a 24-hour helpline for area children, youth and families. The nonprofit, which specializes in helping older youth ages 16-25, operates on a ‘strength-based philosophy,’ helping kids and young adults see past their weaknesses to uncover their strengths.
The Pillar of Strength Award gala begins at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, at The Ritz-Carlton Ballroom, where guests will enjoy a cocktail hour, dinner and a performance by renowned jazz singer Denise Thimes. “It’s going to be a great party,” notes Wilkinson, who is joined in planning the event by co-chairs Kit McClorey and Lisa Smith. “Hopefully, we will raise a lot of much-needed funds through the event.” Proceeds from the evening will benefit Epworth’s foster care programs, helping to make sure kids in the foster care system have access to quality health care services.