As we look back on the past 40 years, there’s certainly a lot to take in. Since 1982, we’ve had the privilege of serving thousands of foster youth and resource parents. What these numbers fail to capture is the wide range of emotions that come with each individual circumstance. Foster care and adoption can serve as a beautiful bridge to healthy family units, but the need for that bridge is often heartbreaking (abuse, neglect, etc.). So as we reflect on the past 40 years of working with foster youth and families, we hold space for all the individuals – past and present – who have required a bridge to safety, healing, wholeness, and unconditional love.
It’s this very idea of bringing hope and healing that inspired the birth of Koinonia. Our founder, Miriam Golden, fostered thirty-seven foster kids over the course of sixteen years. She had a heart for youth whom society labeled as “broken” or “troubled”. Miriam’s unique ability to connect with foster kids impressed the county workers and they encouraged her to start a foster care agency. Despite her lack of education and financial resources, Miriam made this vision of equipping others to be foster parents into a reality. As our founder, she set the tone for our staff:
“Miriam showed us the heart of Koinonia. She inspired us to be better versions of ourselves.” ~ Ana Reese, Corporate Admin Manager
“She was one of a kind. I’m grateful to have witnessed her train, enroll, and guide both employees and families. Miriam’s focus was always on support and encouragement to our parents and employees. She believed if we took good care of them, they would take good care of the kids. I believe this is still the focus today.” ~ Joy Sampson, Adoption Program Manager
“Miriam was such an incredible speaker, so dynamic and enthusiastic and you could hear the dedication and commitment to our youth that fueled the fire within her…it was contagious.” ~ Kim Isham, HR/Benefits Coordinator
This contagious passion for helping foster youth has been passed on to Koinonia’s social workers, administrators, office staff, and direct-care staff alike. The worthwhile mission of bringing hope and healing is able to bring a diverse group of people together in a way that is both meaningful and impactful. Coming together to serve others is what Koinonia is all about. From the very start, the culture of our organization has been centered on relationship. In fact, Koinonia is a Greek word that carries with it the meaning of a trustworthy relationship.
“I’ve made lifelong friendships here. I love our mission, which has evolved so much since the beginning. I love that we have programs that help kids with mental health issues, an issue that’s close to my heart.” ~ Sherrie Ruschman, Corp Administrative Asst
“I’m thankful for the emphasis Koinonia places on relationships – not only with our coworkers, but our foster parents and children. It’s life-changing.” ~ Mardi Yeary, Resource Parent Coordinator
“Koinonia has been the ride of a lifetime! All the children, parents, and staff that we were able to serve made my husband (Dave) and I better people. We loved our career with Koinonia. We loved coming to work every day. It was not just a job for us…we got to experience true Koinonia, true connection. It felt magical.” ~ Sherry Wesson, Corp Office Support Asst
We have been fortunate enough to have incredible longevity in our Koinonia team, a quality that has allowed us to maintain cohesiveness as an agency and witness many changes over the years. Throughout all the change, a few key things have stayed the same:
“In the 34 years I’ve been with the agency, the foster care industry has changed a lot…what hasn’t changed is Koinonia’s integrity (we say what we do and do what we say) and the fact that everyone really cares.” ~ Jerry Johnson, Program Director
“Since I started in 2009, lots of folks have come and gone, and many of the ‘rocks’ are still here. Koinonia’s values of relationship, authenticity, vulnerability, and high quality have remained the same.” ~ Emily Kaiser, Social Worker
“Some things that never changed are putting people before processes and effectiveness above efficiency.” ~ Mardi Yeary, Resource Parent Coordinator
People before process. Trustworthy relationships. The power of vulnerability. Quality over quantity. Principles like these have become etched into the framework of everything we do at Koinonia. All we’ve experienced and learned over the past 40 years will guide us as we continue to serve families in our community.
“It has been an honor to continue our 40-year legacy of bringing hope and healing to children and families.” ~ Bill Richardson, Program Director
“Miriam’s heart was for children to come to know unconditional love. Koinonia’s mandate has been to bring hope to a new generation. Koinonia’s heart is trustworthy relationship. Everything in our world right now is pushing isolation, division, fear and intent on stealing hope. There is a generation that needs what Koinonia was established to provide. There is a lot of work to do over the next 40 years!” ~ Laura Richardson, Compliance Manager