Joe Grayson Chief Executive Officer

Joe Grayson, CEO and founder of Love for St. Louis, strives to create real connections with real people as he shares his personal story as his introduction to the Love for St. Louis community. We thank Joe for his vulnerability and bravery in sharing his life with us:

“ …When I was born my reality was my father in prison and my mother raising me on her own…My childhood was not easy from the start and only continued to go down hill. Around the age of 8 years old, I started to get physically and mentally abused by my stepdad. I can honestly say that my personal experience with abuse has shaped me in ways I will never understand… There has not been a word spoken between my step father and I in over 6 years. My home situation was less than ideal, so when I was still in high school I was forced to get emancipated from my parents as they no longer wanted to be responsible for me…
…So I got emancipated, started working 2 jobs to pay my rent, and went to high school. All my teachers knew what was going on and had sympathy for what I was going through. But when you have to support yourself, I often fell asleep in class because I was working at Burger King until 2a.m. the night before.Long story short my last principal told me ‘Joe, you have something others don’t. Have you thought about getting your GED? I promise you will be fine.’ and he gave me guidance on what to do. The next day I dropped out of school. Now most people would be like, “Your principal told you to drop out of school!?” Well, yes. It was probably the best move I could have made at that time…
…I worked at Meadowbrook Country Club during the day and Burger King at night. I always worked hard and continue to work hard everyday and it has greatly paid off in my life. Despite all of this, I did go back to get my GED when I was 29 years old, even though I didn’t need it for the career path I had taken…Just wanted to get my GED for myself. Unfortunately, I can attest that the education system is not made for everyone and I was completely turned away from getting my GED when I was told that I was getting the right answer, but I wasn’t doing it the right way. That was 2 years ago… and I still do not have a GED…
…Most people would look at my educational background and think I’m a failure and I can understand that thought process. However my life experiences made me grow up quickly and I learned how to be successful at an early age because, honestly, I had no choice. In my past I have worked in the service industry for companies like Longhorn, Meadowbrook CC, and Texas Roadhouse and I have done sales for Bommarito Automotive Group for almost 6 years where I was consistently the top salesperson. I had found success with the tools I built for myself despite having to give up so many things that people take for granted…
…With having a rough childhood I had a huge need for counseling. There were times in my life when I wanted to call it quits. I desperately needed counseling and even if I would have been given the opportunity, I would have never been able to afford it…
…So, long story short, In June 2020 I left my job with the Bommarito Automotive Group when my 501(c)(3) was finalized with the IRS. I had worked there almost 5 and a half years and had sold close to 2,000 vehicles as one of the best producers for Volkswagen in the Midwest . At first I was terrified to leave my comfort zone to go into the unknown world of nonprofits, but something just kept telling me that it was all going to be ok. I knew I wanted a lifestyle change and I knew that there were other stories like mine in our community. So I dedicated myself to the creation of Love for St. Louis…
…Our mission at Love For St. Louis is to ensure all kids in the Greater St. Louis area are provided with equal access to affordable counseling. It is my belief that we can achieve this by bringing the community together. When people come together anything can be achieved. I have put together an amazing diverse group of individuals to be on the organization’s board of directors that I believe will help us in achieving our mission…

…My hope is to spread our love for St. Louis to those who need us most and to give kids the opportunity to finally be heard without the stress of affordability…
…Thank you”