Bubbling Up

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Missouri Foundation for Health has named DiAnne Mueller, CEO of Saint Louis Crisis Nursery, as the 2017 Dr. Corinne Walentik Leadership in Health Award honoree. Mueller has served as the CEO of the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery for more than 23 years, and has dedicated her professional life to helping marginalized people live healthier lives and preventing child abuse. She will be recognized on December 20 at the Foundation’s annual dinner.

The Walentik award was created to honor the late Dr. Walentik’s commitment to serving vulnerable groups, especially children. Each year the award is presented to a health leader in Missouri who exemplifies the passion, dedication, and energy that Walentik brought to her work. Mueller will receive a $2,500 individual award and, per her direction, $25,000 will go to the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery.

The Saint Louis Crisis Nursery is committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect and provides emergency intervention, respite care, and support to families in crisis through short-term care for young children, crisis resolution, community outreach and awareness, advocacy, and more. Under Mueller’s guidance the organization’s capacity has expanded more than 50 percent. It now has the capability to simultaneously provide care to 47 children, has a 24-hour helpline for parents, and offers trauma-informed counseling and parent education to more than 5,300 families. The five nurseries operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and care for more than 6,800 children yearly.

“Being honored with this award is such validation for the work that we’re doing, and what we do is so challenging that it means a lot to receive recognition from the community,” said Mueller. “Dr. Walentik was a role model and a hero to me. I loved how grassroots her approach was and how focused she remained on health and community.”

Mueller is the fifth person to be named a Walentik award winner, including Dr. Walentik herself in the first year. Other awardees include Dr. Katie Plax, Sister Anne Francioni, and Dr. Jason Purnell. Mueller described her excitement in joining such a prestigious group, stating, “I’m in such good company. Everyone on the list is so inspiring.”

“DiAnne is a worthy addition to our list of awardees, and our region is a better place because of her commitment to keeping kids safe,” said Foundation President and CEO Bob Hughes. “A true champion for children, she fully represents the spirit of the Walentik award.”

Mueller is more modest about her efforts. When describing a program she started called Compassionate Care at the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery, which offers help to chronic and terminally ill parents and children, she said, “I get more back than I’ve ever given in.” From Mueller’s perspective, devoting her life to helping others is a simple decision: “If we all do something to make this a better world, then it will be.”