Community Impact Network awardee spotlight: Jenn Deaton

The Listening Award recipient works as Lead Outreach Coordinator at Epworth Family & Children Services

Jenn Deaton, Lead Outreach Coordinator at the Epworth Children & Family Services Drop-In Center, was leaving work one day when she heard a voice call out to her.

“Are you coming back, Miss Jenn?”

It was one of the young people who often comes to the drop-in center, located on Natural Bridge Drive in Normandy. Deaton assured them that yes, she was going to be back the next day.

“That’s the reason I’m still here, is for these youth,” Deaton said. “I could be making money somewhere but it’s not about the money, it’s about these youth. They need someone consistent.”

That dedication has earned not only the trust of the youth she serves, but also garnered her the 2023 Community Impact Network Listening Award at its annual awards celebration in December 2023.

Deaton knows how important it is for a child to have a consistent, trustworthy adult in their life. She was in foster care herself, and she experienced those needs firsthand. She started working in the Missouri Department of Social Services’ Chafee Program when she was 18 and has continued her dedication to Missouri youth ever since. She started working for Epworth in the mid-2000s and worked in Epworth’s Street Outreach program, which supports homeless and at-risk youth.

Jenn is truly a ray of light to all the children in the community.


Now, as Lead Outreach Coordinator, Deaton gets to know all of the young people who come through the door at the drop-in center. She asks them about their day and lends them her ear. She says that most of the time, young people just want to be heard. They want to be themselves and be transparent with somebody, and Deaton is there to listen.

“Listening is no judgment,” Deaton said. “However they need to get their words out and fulfill their emotions at the time. Just being real with them and letting them know they have an adult they can trust.”

The bonds she forms with the youth continue long after they’re coming to the drop-in center. One of the two people who nominated Deaton for the Listening Award told a story about a person in their mid-20s who used to come to the drop-in center. They came in one day asking to talk to Deaton about parenting and legal matters. Deaton made time for them, just like she did when they were younger.

“Jenn is truly a ray of light to all the children in the community,” one of Deaton’s nominators said. “Youth can confide in Jenn and continue to respect her. Jenn is always thinking of others and it shows.”

Learn more about Epworth’s work here. Read more about the Community Impact Network awards here.

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Alex McCarthy
Alex McCarthy is the Communications Coordinator at the Network. He has worked for the organization since 2022.