Zackary Martin and Ashlee Coleman

At Annie Malone's Emerson Center instructor Ashlee Coleman helps Zackary Martin with his project. 

Annie Malone Children and Family Services is celebrating 130 years of service this year with two community events, in addition to the annual Annie Malone May Day Parade, which takes place this year on Sunday, May 20.

On Sunday, April 29, the agency will host a 5K run/walk in Forest Park to recognize National Child Abuse Awareness month and raise awareness of child abuse and neglect; check-in time is 8 a.m. Olympic Gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee is the official walk spokesperson. Individuals, families, businesses, and organizations are invited to participate. Proceeds will directly support Annie Malone programs that prevent child abuse and neglect.

Annie Malone will also celebrate mothers with a Mother’s Day Brunch 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12 at Norwood Hills Country Club.

Then the May Day Parade, a St. Louis tradition that began over a century ago in the historic Greater Ville Neighborhood, steps off at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 20 at 20th and Market streets and heads east on Market to Broadway. This year’s grand marshals are Judge Anne-Marie Clarke, St. Louis City Family Court commissioner; Jimmie Edwards, director of Public Safety for the City of St. Louis; and St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden.

The May Day parade, the oldest and second-largest African-American parade in the nation, and other celebration activities provide financial resources to support the agency’s programs, including parenting education, crisis intervention, transitional living programs, and therapeutic services provided at Emerson Academy Therapeutic School.

“I feel the community has hope and wants to see Annie Malone return to its roots,” said Sara Lahman, the new chief executive officer. “The parade is a vital part of the community and people identify with that, but equally important are the services we provide to families. I want them to be able to go around the corner to get their needs met versus needing to go two hours away.”

Lahman took the reins of the agency in January after an extensive search for a new CEO. Board President Cozy Marks III said Lahman was the unanimous choice because of her deep experience managing residential treatment centers and her extensive work with children from St. Louis.

“Sara shared our concern that children from St. Louis were being served by agencies an hour away,” Marks said. “We want to ensure that we are doing what we need to do to serve children from St. Louis in St. Louis.”

Lahman said she feels the presence of the agency’s namesake legendary businesswoman and philanthropist.

“It’s humbling to be part of that legacy,” Lahman said. “People talk about her business savvy, they talk about the agency and, of course, the May Day Parade.”

For parade registration and information on all the celebration events, visit or call 314-531-0120.

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