Marygrove committed to providing life-changing services for at-risk kids

ST. LOUIS – In the spirit of the holidays, we want to highlight the work of our Spirit of St. Louis charities. This week we focus on the life-changing services for children available at Marygrove.

For more than a century, Marygrove has been committed to helping troubled kids find healing.

Michelle Purnell, director of foster care for Marygrove, said children come to Marygrove in need of healing after suffering abuse, neglect, violence, or abandonment. They may have been diagnosed with behavioral or psychiatric disorders.

“Some of what these kids have dealt with at such a very young age, it is hard to imagine that some of them will turn it around. But then you see it happen,” Purnell said.

Purnell met a young man named Glen when the 10-year-old was in Marygrove's residential program.

“Glen was tough. He was getting suspended from school. He was fighting. He was definitely going down the wrong path,” she said.

Purnell opened her home to Glen as a foster parent. Eventually, Glen was adopted by the Purnells. Over the past 18 years, the couple has fostered 32 kids.

Michelle’s husband, Brent, remembers he had to first open-up if he was going to succeed as a foster parent.

“That part is difficult at first. But after you’ve been doing it for a while you just kind of get the hang of it,” he said.

Marygrove Services are provided for about 200 individuals between 6 and 23 years of age. Comprehensive care includes residential treatment, therapeutic foster care, crisis services, transitional living, and independent living.

“We have a continuum of care. We work with children of all ages through their mental health journey and our goal is to really create a family type of environment for them”, said Joe Bestgen, Marygrove CEO.

It takes between $3.5 million and $4 million in annual donor funding to maintain services for Marygrove kids.

“There is a huge need for these services out in our community and unfortunately the need is growing year after year,” Bestgen said.

In the spirit of the holidays and the spirit of giving, Fox 2 and KPLR 11, along with Bommarito Automotive Group, want you to "Pick Your Charity! Pick your Car, Truck, or SUV!" For a $10 online donation to one or all three Spirit of St. Louis charities—the Alzheimer’s Association, Marygrove, or Heat Up St. Louis—you will be entered to win a Mazda, GMC, or Honda vehicle.