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Steve and Carol Mertens opened Oakendell in1980 with a vision of providing troubled teens with an opportunity for growth. On a peaceful 124 acres, the Mertens designed and built their rural facility to be an alternative to traditional treatment in urban, institutional settings.

Today, Oakendell is transitioning to a new leadership team, headed by the Mertens’ son, Paul. Paul spent much of his childhood living on grounds with his family. Many of his summers during college were spent working as a line staff at Oakendell. Having seen firsthand the impact Oakendell has on the lives of traumatized youth, Paul dedicated himself to continuing to provide troubled teens with an  opportunity for growth.

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