Best Worthy Cause - 2004
Saint Louis Crisis Nursery
Sara Erselius remembers the call to the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery vividly. A baby screamed in the background. The mom, desperate, cried, "I can't handle it anymore. I'm going to hurt him." Within hours the baby was safe in the arms of a crisis-nursery volunteer and the mom was getting a much-needed break. "Research shows that when families are extremely stressed, the chances of abuse are heightened," explains Erselius, the nursery's program coordinator. (Erselius has since moved on -- presumably to an equally worthy cause.) With three area locations (two in St. Louis, one in St. Charles), the crisis nursery offers temporary shelter to more than 3,700 children each year. Some parents are homeless; others are trying to escape an abusive partner. Many are at their wits' end because of financial stress or depression. While the parents get rest and counseling along with follow-up visits, kids from birth to age ten get nutritious meals, a warm bed and the love of volunteers who rock, change and feed babies and read stories to older kids. Needless to say, the center needs volunteers and donations of children's clothing, toys, bedding and, of course, money.