When Jenna first started working for Koinonia in February of 2014 there was one word that came to mind: Heart. Jenna is a young woman who really loves working side by side with the kids here at Koinonia. She invests a lot of herself into what she does and is very talented when it comes to building relationships with our girls at House 5.
Jenna was recently promoted from Child Care Counselor to House Mom at House #5. She will be taking on a whole new set of responsibilities and challenges. Jenna has earned this opportunity with her endless amount of energy and positivity. She has wonderful insight into the girls and a strong grasp on program. It will be exciting to see how Jenna applies these great qualities to our Facility Supervisor Assistant position. No doubt it will be fantastic! Congratulations!
The only thing better looking than the beautiful spring day on March 13th was Diego, a wonderful young man graduating the Koinonia Homes for Teens program. Surrounded by his friends and family, Diego received full honors as he was presented with his Certificate of Graduation and his graduation ring. He was also the recipient of an Angels in the Alley $1,500 transition scholarship.
Diego’s mentor, Justin LaCasse, opened the affair with an overview of Diego’s time a Koinonia and the strides he took to overcome the issues he faced early on. As Diego took the stage, he thanked those who had touched his heart while supporting him. Whether staff, peers, counselors, or community members, Diego took the time to thank each of them and verbalize his gratitude. He also took the time to encourage all of his peers and let them know that they could all be as successful as he had been at Koinonia.
The line of those who wanted to speak into Diego’s accomplishments grew. After an hour or so, Justin finally brought the graduation to a close with a prayer from Mama T, Teresa Tift. All in all, it was a beautiful afternoon and a wonderful event. All of our hearts go out to encourage Diego in the next phase of his life. He is a solid young man with a heart of gold, what else do you need?
Here at Koinonia, the holidays can be a hectic time among the slew of errands to be run, the onslaught of festivities to attend, and the last minute details to be done. Here at Koinonia we also know that our efforts are not in vain. We know that what we do has meaning, and gives us strength to continue on throughout the Christmas season.
This is Jesse. He has been at Koinonia for almost a year now, and is in the second phase of our program. Jesse can definitely be described as an intellectual. He spends his time really diving into the topics he enjoys, and also loves playing video games. One thing we have come to learn about Jesse is that he does not smile very often. Jesse was here a few months before we knew he was even capable of smiling. Over the last few months, Jesse has improved in showing his emotions in a healthy way and has even got into the habit of wearing a smile when he’s genuinely happy. In this picture Jesse is displaying two of the gifts he got for Christmas this year—a sweater (that he immediately put on due to how much he liked it), and a book about philosophy and wisdom. When I took this picture I didn’t even have to ask him to smile because he had been smiling ever since he started opening gifts.
This is exactly why Koinonia exists. There are thousands of kids that are just like Jessie. Kids who have never experienced a Christmas, who don’t have a solid family, and who do not know what it feels like to have a Christmas full of Joy. We at Koinonia strive to be a helping hand to the teens we work with. A philosophy we have here at Koinonia is, “Speaking the truth and love, using clarity, directness, and compassion”. Speaking truth and love requires us to manifest what truth and love is. In essence, this is what makes all of the busyness of Christmas worthwhile here at Koinonia.
To our supporters: You are the ones who make this Koinonia Christmas experience possible. We are able to provide these services to the Jesse’s of the world because of you. You made Jesse’s smile possible, and he is eternally grateful for you. Thank you for taking times out of your busy schedule to partner with us!
This Christmas at Koinonia was my best Christmas ever! Not because of the gifts I received, but the thought of other people going and buying me gifts and not knowing who I actually am. I truly believe that you have to have a huge heart to go out of your way and do things for people that you’ve never met before. So this Christmas was really special to me. I will never forget my Christmas at Koinonia because of the people that made this special for me. I did a lot of great things this Christmas. I went to look at Christmas lights and had hot chocolate, dinner with my family at Koinonia, and watched Christmas movies that I have never seen before. I went to the bowling alley and had a lot a fun. I got to get my picture drawn by an artist, I got to create my own cupcake, eat a lot of pizza, take pictures with Santa and his wife. I got a lot of great gifts like pants, shoes, a radio, and a remote control car. I also received a lot of gift cards to target, game stop, and star bucks. My favorite gift was a wallet. Inside of the wallet was a dollar bill that had a little note on it. On the note it said “Merry Christmas! And may this be your lucky dollar.” This may not be special to others, but to me it is because it made me feel connected to this person. I still have this dollar bill in my wallet. It is my lucky dollar now and I will keep it forever. So every time I look at the dollar I will remember my Christmas at Koinonia and my special day, and I will care for others just like others cared for me.
Koinonia Homes for Teens was invited to participate in the State of California Employee’s “Our Promise” campaign launch on the lawn of the State Capitol this year. Paige, Justine and Dante manned the Koinonia booth speaking with several hundred State employees and “Our Promise” campaign managers. All in all, the event was a grand success and Koinonia made many new friends.
“Our Promise” is the State employee’s program that allows them to make charitable donations through payroll deductions to the many wonderful non-profit organizations throughout our state. Many state employees have blessed Koinonia by selecting us as their chosen charity. Needless to say, the teens did great in representing Koinonia, perfecting their public speaking skills and learning about all the different departments and agencies throughout our State’s government.
Many thanks to the “Our Promise” team and the United Way for including us in this year’s event!