2022 Excellence in Mental Health Awardee
Yolanda Rodgers-Garvin has more than 25 years of experience serving children and families in the St. Louis area. Yolanda’s passion for helping others, especially children, comes from the personal experience of losing her brother to encephalitis when she was 16 years old. From that experience, she realized the importance of nurturing the social-emotional aspects of mental health in youth. Yolanda is a graduate of St. Louis University with a master’s degree in social work as well as a master’s degree in media communications from Webster University. She is the 2022 Excellence in Mental Health Awardee.
Yolanda previously worked at Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri as a social worker, where she provided strong client-center services, and then as a public relations marking coordinator at Lutheran Family and Children Services of Missouri Foundation.
For the past eight years, Yolanda has been the Homeless and Foster Care Coordinator for the Ferguson-Florissant School District. In this position, she supports students who have been displaced from permanent housing and students in foster care whose placements have been disrupted. Working with such vulnerable populations, Yolanda focuses on providing services that mitigate the impact of trauma, grief, loss, and inequity stemming from the consequences of instability.
While using her voice as a resource for awareness and educating the community, Yolanda has served as an adoption expert on the National Council for Adoption training video, was a featured monthly guest on KMJM Majic 104.9 Tony Scott’s Show and Sunday Morning Live hosted by Jade Harrell, as well as other local news and radio outlets.
More recently, Yolanda created and spearheaded the McKinney-Vento Summer Enrichment program in the Ferguson-Florissant School District to prevent summer learning loss, provide case management services that include addressing mental health needs, and providing referrals to close the gap for students who would not receive support during the summer. Yolanda has also been a presenter at the National Association of the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, sharing creative strategies for family engagement and support. Moreover, Yolanda was instrumental in making Ferguson-Florissant School District the first Missouri school district to launch Purposity, a national program to address the unmet needs of children. Because Yolanda believes that the impact of trauma and unforeseen life circumstances can create barriers for children, she strives to end the cycle of poverty and chronic homelessness by working with colleges to create personalized tours for homeless youth who may otherwise not be able to access career and college readiness services. With great sentiment from personal experiences, Yolanda strives to instill in the minds of students and parents that “where you are today does not determine your tomorrow.”