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Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service celebrates 40 years

When Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service opened its doors as a local nonprofit in July 1981, it had just five volunteers, $500, and an aspiration to help individuals struggling with poverty.

This July the Care Service celebrated the 40th anniversary of it providing individuals in need with basic necessities, such as food, shelter and more. 

Executive Director Pam Struckhoff and Father Robert Leibrecht, one of the founding members of the Care Service (Photo: Missy Naumann)

Today, the organization has grown to be a primary provider of programs for individuals, families and children in the tri-county area of St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties who earn at or below 50% of the state median income. 

Multiple cities that benefit from the care service’s endeavors recently awarded proclamations to the organization.

On July 22, the St. Peters Board of Aldermen read a proclamation commending the Care Service for 40 years of service to the community. A few days later, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann also read a proclamation at the County Council meeting. Both proclamations recognized the growth of the organization to 32 employees and hundreds of volunteers, and the efforts of its Street Outreach Program in helping get at-risk individuals off the street, its Housing Assistance, Children and Family Development program, Food Pantry and Christmas Adopt-A-Family efforts.

Over the last four decades, Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service has devoted efforts to helping individuals and families experiencing homelessness, hunger, mental and physical health disorders, lack of clothing, untimely death, and a myriad of other problems caused by chronic poverty. 

Longtime Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service volunteers (from left) Sister Robert Ann, Sister LaVerne, Flora Fazio and Yvonne Tihen (Photo: Missy Naumann)

Executive Director Pam Struckhoff, who started with the care service in 2009, said it performs research year-round to determine what programs and types of assistance will benefit the diverse needs of the at-risk population. One area of need Struckhoff said was services for homeless single men, which inspired the nonprofit’s Street Outreach. In the past five years, 125 individuals have been moved off the streets.

“You’re talking about the individuals who have the highest barriers. Housing evictions, maybe felony records, or maybe they don’t have a high-paying job …” Struckhoff said. “(The program) is very well-respected, and we appreciate that the community has been good to us.”

Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service is accredited by the Council on Accreditation, a national child- and family-service/behavioral healthcare accreditation organization.

In early 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., where communities were faced with problems like new health concerns and potential income loss from jobs, the Care Service adapted.

During the pandemic, the care service offered curbside food pantry service collaborating with the Continuum of Care and the St. Charles County Health Department to locate temporary housing for the homeless during this crisis.

While other organizations were forced to close their doors during the pandemic, the Care Service remained open. 

“We’re an agency that has adapted several times throughout history while always staying true to our mission,” Struckhoff said. “We knew that the people who were going to be hit the hardest, and the people who always were hit the hardest, are people at the lower income levels. We couldn’t shut down, because we were going to be needed.”

Some future developments the Care Service is looking to flesh out include a Mobile Food Pantry, housing developments for elderly individuals, and enhancing its case management and service departments.

“Forty years is a great time to look back on, but it’s also the golden ticket to chart our path forward,” Struckhoff said.

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