Six honorees that are leaving their mark on Jefferson City
While it may only take one person to make a difference, Jefferson City Magazine recognizes six individuals and entities that are making substantial impacts in the lives of many. With their generosity and diligence, this group makes it their mission to put others before themselves, despite their already busy schedules. Not only have they given back to their community with enthusiasm, they are a privilege to work with and lead others by example. With this recognition, this set of six can now join their fellow Impact JCMO honorees in making Jefferson City a more beautiful place to live.
Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Kristen Meldrem lives by this motto. Although modest of her accomplishments, she is a consistent and trustworthy friend for children in need of health services, and she strives to create a welcoming and safe space for them to visit. Earning the Most Impactful JCMO Staff Member title, Kristen works at Compass Health Network, a nonprofit with over 60 Missouri locations that provides behavioral, primary, and dental health services to children and adults. In her role, Kristen helps families in obtain-ing community resources to build their natural support systems. Some of her day-to-day tasks include fi ling paperwork, teaching coping skills, working with schools in providing resources for children, and even meeting with childrens’ families, psychiatrists, and therapists. WhileKristen relishes in all of these tasks, nothing compares to the heartwarming feeling she gets when connecting with children who seek these services. For a child, meet-ing new people can be terrifying, so Kristen uses a few icebreakers and games to help build a trusting foundation. The games allow the children to open up to her as well as teach them life skills like taking turns, counting, and problem-solving. Kristen emphasizes it’s are warding feeling when she’s playing games with the children and they begin to trust her. And that trust isn’t just a fleeting moment — Kristen still visits with the first child she was paired with when she joined Com-pass two years ago
“I’ve met with kids where a lot of the people they’ve been around are just going to be a revolving door and will be around for two months,” she says. “That time (I spend with them) and that consistency works to show them that there is a consistent person, and this is a person they can trust and tell their problems to.”
When Kristen joined Compass in 2020, the pandemic created major hurdles for the recent hire. Instead of shadowing different Compass employees during house visits and in-person sessions, she had to watch these critical touch points virtually. While learning through telehealth was difficult, Kristen made telehealth a valuable strength of her own and found ways to maintain children’s attention while meeting or playing with them virtually. Whether she’s meeting virtually or in-person, her biggest aspiration is to have a welcoming and open demeanor. Kristen has also become masterful in understanding each child’s personality and being flexible when connecting with them.
“A lot of it is a listening ear, being impartial, and just validating their concerns.”