Joe’s Place is an innovative idea born from a dramatic need in our community. On any given night in St. Louis, there are around 1,500 homeless teens. In the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, there are at least 30 students each night who find themselves without a home due to serious family difficulties. These students sleep and eat wherever friends will let them settle for a time.
As the MRH School District struggles to find a safe haven for these youngsters, we find again and again that teens between the ages of 14 and 18 have few support nets in our social welfare system. Homeless teenagers are the invisible children in our society and are often skillful at masking their homelessness from adults.
Joe’s Place tackles a complex problem with a straightforward approach: to collaborate as a community in providing a safe environment for some of our neediest teenagers, allowing them to pursue high school graduation.
Through the dramatic collaboration of the MRH School District, Crossroads Presbyterian Church and other local churches, and a number of committed volunteers, the non-profit Joe’s Place was launched. The program offers a group of teenage boys what every kid should be able to expect from life: a warm place to sleep, regular meals, and someone to provide guidance and affection.
No single entity within our community can take care of this issue alone. In fact, it is reasonable for us to shrug these students off as someone else’s problem. In the end, however, the quality of their lives affects the quality of ours.
In 2012 the MRH School District was named one of three national grand prize winners in the American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) and National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 18th annual Magna Awards program for Joe’s Place.
Joes’ Place is thrilled to welcome new House Parents, Angela and Brandon Marty to serve the critical role of guides and advocates for students living here starting in the fall of 2022.
Angela graduated from the University of Missouri St. Louis and St. Louis Community College and currently teaches 4th Grade in Clayton. Beyond her job as an educator, she has a history of mission trips to Guatemala and coaching kids’ teams. Her partner, Brandon Marty, is an IT professional with a background in educational technology. Together, they hope to help kids throughout the year and support new developments at JP in both the program and the physical space.
Angela (AM): "We started in September. I’ve been in education for six years now but have also been working with kids in various roles my whole life. My aunt is on the board, and she reached out to us too."
Brandon (BM): "I also used to work in IT for a school district. So, I’m also just used to the student environment and community effort."
AM: "We have a lot of support around here. It’s been really great to work with everyone from the school. Right now, we have two kids. Once the basement gets fixed up, we will have more opportunities for more students to be here. We’re anticipating that for next year. That’s the big focus right now."
BM: "And now Joe’s Place is working to update to open it up from boys to all young persons in need."
AM: "Our dog, Oakley (a friendly, lean Siberian Husky), loves being here and he enjoys the backyard. Some of the boys in particular really love having him here too."