For 148 years, Epworth Children & Family Services has focused on helping kids build brighter futures. Through a variety of programs, the agency provides a support network for older youth in need. “Epworth becomes an extended family for these kids and helps them get down the right paths in life,” says board chair Amy Berg.
Epworth will look to grow that family when it holds its 17th annual charity polo match on Saturday, June 9. Considered more of a ‘friendraiser’ than a fundraiser, the event gives the organization an opportunity to build awareness about its efforts in the St. Louis community. “We don’t do it to necessarily make money, but rather to introduce people to Epworth through a very fun, relaxed day,” Berg explains.
The afternoon polo match at Blue Heron Farms in Defiance features professional players competing for the Kräftig and Wells Fargo Advisors teams. Billy Busch, owner of Blue Heron and Kräftig lager, has hosted the event with his wife, Christi, since the first year. “It’s a great way to give back,” Busch says. “Epworth allows kids to learn who they are and create the lives they want for themselves.”
With plans to entertain 250 clients at the polo match, Wells Fargo Advisors looks forward to helping promote Epworth for the second year. “We are proud to partner with an organization with a long history of success and co-sponsor the event again this year,” says Kevin Whitehead of Wells Fargo Advisors. “It’s a great opportunity to participate in a unique event.”
The family-friendly event kicks off at 3 p.m. with activities that include wagon rides, inflatable play areas and other entertainment for children, while adults can enjoy barbecue and drinks before the match starts at 4 p.m. With a $25-per-car entry fee, the day offers families a chance to witness the thrill of polo in person, Berg says. “The entire event is great, but getting to watch a polo match up close is very exciting. It’s beautiful to see the speed of the horses and the agility of the players.”
While the match is very competitive, Busch, an avid polo player who will participate on the Kräftig team, stresses the main focus of the event. “When you support Epworth, you’re helping all of society because you’re helping kids grow to be fullyfunctioning adults.”
Every year, Epworth assists more than 2,000 children (up to age 25) overcome emotional and behavioral challenges, with services ranging from intense, supervised treatment to independent living guidance. Services include a Residential Treatment Program, Family Focus Program, Youth Emergency Service (YES) crisis shelter and Transitional Living Program. “From completing their education and finding jobs to living on their own and managing their money, we’re helping these youth learn the basic skills we take for granted,” Berg says.
Through a recent merger with Family Support Network (FSN), Epworth now operates the program focused on preventing child abuse and neglect through free family counseling and parental education. Through better communication and stress management, 98 percent of children in participating families are free from abuse for at least a year after receiving services. “We want to help families parent a different way and get them out of the cycle that perhaps they grew up in,” Berg notes.
As the polo match has grown in popularity since its inception 17 years ago, so have the echoes around the community as attendees learn about the importance of Epworth. “When I remember myself as a 17- or 18- year-old, it’s crazy to think about not having the support of a family,” Berg says. “Epworth offers a whole continuum of care and services to make sure these teenagers and young adults can be productive citizens and in turn, give back to their own communities.”