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Our Purpose

In 1881, a bold and visionary, New York City missionary named Etta Angell Wheeler established St. Christopher’s as a refuge for homeless, orphaned and neglected children. Our founding was the logical next step for Etta since less than a decade earlier, her work as a rescuer of and advocate for a child named Mary Ellen Wilson help spur the first-ever, national movement to end child abuse and neglect across America. Nearly a century later, St. Christopher’s mission evolved to the provision of vital services and support to children, youth and families with special needs.

Still, Etta’s purpose, passion and vision remain OUR NORTH STAR:

  • To help children, youth and families ignite their inner power to discover their best selves and reach their full potential


Missionary working with a kid.

OUR MISSION is to empower children and youth with special needs with the social-emotional coping skills and strengths they need—and the healthcare, mental health and social support services they require—to enter adulthood confident and equipped to meet life’s challenges and opportunities, and live happy, healthy and meaningful lives. 

We do this by: providing evidence-based, therapeutic residential support services in a safe and nurturing environment to youth with educational and developmental disabilities and/or psychiatric and emotional issues; ensuring children with chronic health conditions—at or below the poverty line—receive the care and services they need to get well and stay healthy; and providing unaccompanied children with shelter. education, vocational training, mental health services and more so they can begin building futures of hope and possibility. 


OUR VISION is for every child and young person with special needs to thrive in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential and have the brightest possible futures. 

Person overlooking clouds and a sunset.


Everything we do—every conversation, decision and action—every touchpoint—is grounded in OUR VALUES

  • We share and commit, individually and as a team, to a common vision and mission of advancing human lives. 
  • We ensure the safety and well-being of staff, youth and families.
  • We ensure youth and families have a voice in the planning and design of the services and support they receive. 
  • We commit to creating a culture of diversity, equality and inclusion where each person is respected, treated fairly, and provided opportunities to excel. 
  • We foster and recognize a learning culture comprising creativity and ingenuity
  • We are proactive in communicating the outcomes and impact of our work to better the lives of children, youth and families.