The Intel Corporation – Folsom Campus once again embraces the Teens of Koinonia with an invite to Intel’s annual LANFest where they host the largest marathon gaming event in Northern California. At this recent event, Javier Martinez, a Graphic Software Engineer at Intel and organizer of the event, sponsored one Koinonia Teen that was doing well in our program for the whole three-day event and invited ten others to come for the day and see the event, the technology showcase, and experience the computer community having fun. Javier is pictured with the Koinonia Teens holding the computer related gifts that Javier had gotten donated by the vendors represented at the event.
It was a great opportunity for our teens to ask computer career related questions of a number of the LANFest’s participants, who all were exceptionally generous with their time and information. Intel, thank you once again for the incredible support you offer the community as a whole through your enormous amount of employee volunteerism and financial support. In addition to the participation in the event, this charity fundraising event resulting in over a $7,000 check benefiting the Kids of Koinonia.
The Intel Corporation in Folsom invited 12 female high school students from Koinonia Community School in Loomis to participate in the “She & Me” project at the “International Year of the Woman” event focusing on cultural diversity and the benefits of networking. Patti Starr (title) at Intel, Folsom arranged for each of the students to receive a letter from fellow Intel co-workers that employed all around the world. Each letter shared the personal story of their cultural experience of being teenagers, growing up and pursuing their educational and life-long dreams in their home country. After reading the letters and doing research on the countries of origin, the teens created collages depicting their pen-pals and themselves. Showing through their art the similarities they found between the letter writer’s stories and their own life stories, challenges and aspirations. The final phase of the “She & Me” project took place at the Folsom Intel campus. The girls were invited to participate in the FM WIN Business Luncheon and Mentoring session held on March 8th at the 100th anniversary of “The International Women’s Day”.
The teens were each paired up with an Intel woman mentor, participating in speed mentoring session and toured the campus. The girls then hosted an art show where they shared their creations and what they learned with all those participating in the event.
Having spent eleven months at Koinonia, Issaih (pictured with community supporters Stewart & Theresa Tist) has a reason to celebrate his much-awaited and deserved graduation from the program. Although it wasn’t always easy, he recognizes the hard changes and challenges he’s faced during his stay. One big change he’s seen in himself is that he is much more patient and thinks through his choices before he decides to act. This is something he would like to continue to work on more after Koinonia as well. He says he’s much less impulsive and considers his future more than he used to. His Facility Supervisor Justin has had a big impact on him because he cares enough to be straightforward and up front with him. One hard part about being at Koinonia for Issaih was the whole group having to take responsibility and bear the consequences for someone else’s behavior that they didn’t own up to. Although this was hard, he wouldn’t change it because he recognizes the effectiveness.
School is a big part of Issaih’s life here at Koinonia, and he says it comes easy for him. It’s different for him here in that he can focus on his work more effectively without being chemically dependent. He enjoys his teacher and says school is more enjoyable because he’s funny and makes them all laugh. In fact, all the laughter and funny interactions with different people at Koinonia is what makes up some of Issaih’s favorite moments during the program. During the AA/NA meetings, Issaih has learned to take things one day at a time. Addictions are easier to face if you take recovery in small steps and don’t look forward past what you can handle. The twelve step workbook as part of the N/A A/A meetings had a big impact on Issaih because he said they really make you think about yourself and how your actions affect others. One particular assignment Issaih really got a lot out of was assigned to him by his Facility Supervisor Justin who had him read Lord of the Flies to teach him about leadership. The activity that stuck with Issaih the most during DCR (Day Care Rehabilitative) was coming in second place during the food eating contest in which the contestants got quite a surprise (poundcake filled with corn nuts)!
Being at Koinonia wasn’t all fun and games for Issaih – there was a lot of personal growth that came at a high price. During his stay, he learned that it’s ok to be himself; he doesn’t have to act differently than who he really is to gain respect. His relationship with his family has undergone some changes as well, Issaih feels he can now be completely honest with his family members and that he doesn’t have to hide or lie about things anymore – he can be completely straightforward. Issaih feels this is one of his greatest accomplishments since he came to Koinonia. He feels great relief that he can be around his family members without being high and has earned a higher level of trust and respect from them.
Life after Koinonia will be an adjustment for Issaih. Personal freedom and responsibility is something he will greatly appreciate, and it’s been hard earned! One of the hardest things for Issaih was being away from his family and missing them, but it encouraged him to do the best he can in the program so he can reunite with them more quickly. Upon graduation, he looks forward to living with his mom and step-dad and working towards going to college and possibly pursuing a career as a pilot to drop supplies off to remote areas. He knows that living with his family will be challenging and really wants to help out his mom and his sisters when he’s back.
Overall, Issaih is proud of the work he’s done at Koinonia and though he did his best in the program. He said he never held back in his phasework, and felt he could have done even better if he had put all of his effort into the program right away instead of holding out on his best efforts. Some advice he’d give to new residents would be that everything in the program has value and purpose, give it your all!
At Koinonia, it’s the Child Care Counselor staff that connects the dots for our teens as they work through their recovery. Good staff make it all work and there is no better CCC than Ben Hoover. A graduate of William Jessup University, Ben came on aboard in 2008. Where the title CCC usually stands for Child Care Counselor, with Ben it stands for Cool, Calm & Collected. His temperament and the quality of his character makes him most approachable and trustworthy for the teens. Ben is also a writer and a poet and frequently writes pieces for the boys he works with.
One of Ben’s boys, Richie, who trusted Ben as a confidant used him as a sounding board on his journey through recovery, often just before bedtime. As usual, Ben offered sound advice and Richie was highly successful. On the occasion of Richie graduation from the program, Ben wrote a bedtime story for him. Having him come on the graduation stage (pictured), Ben wrapped Richie in a blanket and read him his final bedtime story. The story chronicles Richie’s struggles with usage, called the Magic, and the journey to recovery. In the story there are illustrations of staff members that Richie encountered, the Giant is 6’6” CCC Ian Ryland, the Island Warrior is CCC Walter “Bamu” Meake from the island nation of Vanuatu, the Truth Defender is CCC Eric Scharfenberger, the Whiskered Listener is Ben himself, the Orderly Damsel is FSA Joy Miller, and the Wise Commander is Facility Supervisor Justin LaCasse.
All the staff at Koinonia brings a piece of themselves to offer to our young people. In Ben’s case he can put it on paper and offer it as a gift. Please enjoy Richie’s Bedtime Story.
Congratulations to Joy Miller (pictured with House 4 resident) for her promotion to Facility Supervisor. Joy has been working with the Kids of Koinonia since 2007 and has served in most every capacity available with the teens. She has work in both, boy’s and girl’s homes, at the Crisis Resolution Center and most recently as a Facility Supervisor’s Assistant at House 4. Earlier this year, she completed her graduate work and earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology. The staff and boys out at House 4 affectionately suggest that Joy is not just “organized” but that she is “uber-organized!” To which Joy would respond, “. . . but they’re a house full of boys . . . it’s still not enough.”
We’re excited to have such a highly qualified staff available to step into the Facility Supervisor position to guide and mentor the staff and female residents of House 3. We look forward to many contributions that Joy will bring to the Supervisor’s team and our program as a whole.
Nick will be taking a position at his alma mater, William Jessup University. All of Koinonia bids him and his lovely wife Sheri a fond farewell. It was back in 2007 when Nick came to Koinonia a single man. It was quickly apparent that he was a young man of quality character and integrity. His work with the boys at House 4 was that of what one would hope for. When a Facility Supervisor position became available, Nick was on the short list. As Facility Supervisor at House 5, we watched Nick hone his natural leadership skills, gain the respect of his staff and peers, become an important mentor to virtually every young man he worked with, and marry the love of his life.
We wish Nick, Sheri and their little one on the way, the very best in his new position at William Jessup University. We receive so many great staff from William Jessup, that it is okay that we give them one of the very best back. Thanks for everything Nick, we love you.