Goshen 2022 Volunteers of the Year

On April 13, Goshen Valley presented 6 individuals with their Volunteer of the Year award, and also presented the first annual Goshen Educator of the Year award. The recipients of the Volunteer of the Year award were Debbie Rabjohn, Bill and Kathy DeMartino,  Nancy LaChance, Sydna Lowe, and Kyla Cromer. The Goshen Educator of the Year award was presented to Don Deaton. A bit about each of their service to Goshen is outlined below.

 

When speaking about the volunteers who make Goshen thrive, CEO Zach Blend said that “We have the opportunity to change lives through relationships, and the relationships with those honored today are one of Goshen’s most powerful assets. We are grateful for all who sacrifice in service to our youth.” 

 

Debbie Rabjohn is the Goshen Homes volunteer of the year. She is the president of the Cherokee County Optimist Club, and has led her club in providing Easter baskets for Goshen Homes youth for 3 years in a row. She has done much of this while going through health issues, and was unable to attend the ceremony for the same reasons. The Goshen Homes team is grateful for her service, but even more grateful for her kind heart and her selflessness while going through a difficult time in her personal life. 

 

Bill and Kathy DeMartino are the Goshen New Beginnings volunteers of the year. Bill and Kathy connected to Goshen when becoming a Connections Homes family. They were paired with Goshen New Beginnings youth Robert, and they were able to be a significant part of his life through prom, graduation, and navigating adult life afterwards. After opening a room in their home for him and mentoring him for three years, they joined the Goshen staff in traveling to Missouri to celebrate Robert’s graduation from Basic Training. Bill commented at the ceremony how much the team traveling to the graduation meant to Robert, saying that he “had to do extra push-ups because he couldn’t stop smiling.” 

 

Nancy LaChance is the Goshen Valley Boys Ranch volunteer of the year. Nancy first connected with Goshen in 2016 while serving through Woodstock City Church’s Be Rich campaign. That day she was tasked with organizing the clothing closet, and since then she has led a group who comes to do the same task each month. This group led by Nancy has sorted and organized all clothing donations made to Goshen for 5 years. Additionally, Nancy has used her love of hiking to connect with and mentor boys at the Ranch during her time serving. 

 

Sydna Lowe was the Development volunteer of the year. Sydna chaired the Brasfield & Gorrie Charitable Committee, which was responsible for hosting their fall fundraiser and providing over $330,000 to support Goshen Valley. This made Brasfield & Gorrie Goshen’s largest ever single-year donor. Additionally, Sydna took her paid time off in advance of the fall fundraiser to make sure everything was organized as well as possible. When speaking about the partnership, Sydna said that "Brasfield and Gorrie takes pride in doing things with excellence.  We could not line up better with any other organization." 

 

Kyla Cromer was the Community Engagement volunteer of the year. Kyla is the Cherokee County School Board Chair, and she also serves on the Goshen Community Council. Kyla has continued to prioritize initiatives that help the school system better serve foster youth, including bringing in a Goshen staff person to lead a training to all school counselors on Trust-Based Relational Intervention. Additionally, Kyla invited 21 guests to join her for the Evening with Goshen dinner fundraiser, the most guests brought by any one Goshen supporter. Kyla remarked after receiving the award that "Respect and love are what our kids need. They come to school wondering where their next meal is coming from. They come after hearing their Mom and Dad fighting. We see the pride on their faces at graduation. Lots of people have poured into these kids to get them across that stage."

 

Don Deaton was recognized as Goshen’s first ever Educator of the Year. Don is the lead physical education teacher at Teasley Middle School. For many years Don headed up our Summer Academy program- the daily recreation program our boys participate in during summer break. He has continued to go above and beyond at school to learn who the Goshen youth are in his class, and to do all he can to provide them with extra support and encouragement during the school day. Don shared with the Goshen staff after receiving his award, “I want you to know we support you. We know the trauma our kids have experienced. Kids need to know they are loved. You are the footprint and the hands of God in their lives - you speak Jesus." 


Together Facing The Challenge: Goshen Homes

Goshen Homes has officially been certified in Together Facing the Challenge (TFTC), officially credentialing the foster care provider with an evidence-based approach.

TFTC certification means that Goshen Homes is able to provide a proven therapeutic foster care training and coaching program. Our goal is to ensure that our foster parents are equipped to best care for the children in their homes, learning systems that make fostering less confusing, and taking care of themselves in the process. This will in turn lead to foster youth experiencing more stable placements and greater lifelong outcomes. 

According to the TFTC website, the program aims “to improve the skills of foster parents and their agency staff. The model focuses specifically on the in-home intervention elements (and creating adequate skill levels to implement these strategies effectively) and on the important role of supervision and coaching in helping foster parents work effectively. We don’t ask agencies to “re-invent the wheel” — instead, the goal of TFTC is to work with agencies to enhance what they already do well by growing their knowledge & expertise with evidence-informed approaches to improve practice & outcomes for youth in care.” 

Gaining this TFTC certification was an 18-month process for the Goshen Homes team, involving many trainings and a great deal of refining to programmatic elements. Goshen Valley CEO Zach Blend shared his praise of the Goshen Homes team when stating what this means for the future of Goshen. 

“I am both pleased and equally proud of our Goshen Homes Staff and foster families for the dedication and commitment it has taken to complete the Together Facing the Challenge certification. To be recognized with other therapeutic foster care providers has been a goal of ours that was laid out as part of our most recent strategic plan. We’re confident the utilization of this evidenced-based model will provide the tools needed for our families to thrive in their capacity as foster parents”

To learn more about fostering with Goshen Homes, visit Goshencalley.org/homes. To learn more about Together Facing the Challenge, visit sites.duke.edu/tftc.


Goshen Valley named a 2022 AJC Top Workplace

Goshen Valley has been named one of the AJC’s Top 20 Workplaces 2022!

The Goshen Valley Foundation has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2022 honor by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For the 2022 rankings, 4,583 companies were nominated or asked to participate. Out of 87 small businesses, Goshen Valley is ranked number 16 among Top Workplaces in Atlanta.

We are grateful to the 81 full time employees at Goshen Valley who felt that we were deserving of this recognition. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage, LLC. The anonymous survey uniquely measures 15 culture drivers that are critical to the success of any organization: including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

Goshen Valley AJC Top Workplace Logo

"More than ever, we strive to create environments where our staff experiences a certain sense of purpose in their work. The idea of just coming to the office has never fit our culture, more so we emphasize the impact of being of service - not only in the lives we have been entrusted to provide care for, but for one another as well.
I find that people are often surprised by the size of our organization. Over the past four years Goshen has grown by nearly 50% with today 80 or so full time employees. We are selective in the process of adding talent to our team and have been successful at keeping our turnover low in a season where there is almost an expected staff fluidity due to the economic state of things.
To truly lean into our mission of providing peace and purpose to children and families at risk Goshen has to ensure that our staff is healthy, engaged, and equipped to perform their roles well.
We appreciate the AJC recognizing our efforts for a second year in a row. Ultimately we strive to be a leading not-for-profit in the region and a highly regarded place of employment in the process."  - Zach Blend, CEO Goshen Valley

Not only is this announcement meaningful for Goshen employees, it also makes a major impact on the youth and families that we serve. The 115 kids in our care have had family come in and out of their lives previously, and Goshen wants to ensure the staff and foster parents that work with them are in it for the long haul. The vulnerable families in need of mental health services coming to Goshen can know that their case worker and therapist will be better equipped to get them back on their feet. Prospective foster families who are considering making a life altering change to bring kids into their home know that they will have the training and support of a great team that will be by their side through the journey.

This announcement means a great deal to the team at Goshen Valley, and we are excited for the ways that it will impact our youth and families as we work to create generational change in the lives of families and foster youth in Georgia.


A Letter from our CEO.

To our Goshen Family,

People often ask me what makes Goshen special. My answer is that everything starts with relationships. Trust is born out of relationship, respect is born out of relationship, and belief in one another is born out of relationship.

Transformation in the life of someone who has experienced trauma doesn’t happen as a result of infrequent, fluid connections but through steady and consistent interaction. It happens through a caring person being present in the good times and the bad. It happens through establishing a healthy boundary of empathy without enabling.

In a time of challenging labor shortages, Goshen has been blessed with a called and consistent staff. If I could wave a magic wand I would allow each of you, who have made so much possible in the life of our ministry, to have the opportunity to shadow one of our house parents, foster parents, or case workers for a day. These men and women care deeply and individually for our kids. They make daily sacrifices and engage in the challenging work of seeing the children’s complex needs. As a result, deep, genuine, trusting relationships are forged. It is not by coincidence or by chance that our kids heal from their hurts, do better in school, and learn to establish healthy friendships. It is due to the example set for them and the grace that is extended to them when our team works together to ensure that they might live to their full potential.

Our story has been a good one thus far, but there is more to write. There are chapters on how Goshen can establish similar relationships with at-risk families through preventive services such as counseling and parent education. I also believe that there is a chapter in which Goshen serves teenage girls through the opening of therapeutic foster homes. Just as you have supported us this far, we will need you all with us on that next journey.

We’ve navigated uncharted waters in the past 18 months. We have been challenged, but we are stronger for it. Through it all you never left our side, and your constant presence has made all the difference. You have allowed the Goshen Valley Foundation to be built on rock, not on sand. A foundation built to last.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays,

Zach Blend | CEO Goshen Valley Foundation

 

DONATE TODAY


Goshen Homes Celebrates 10 Reunifications

Goshen Homes: keeping siblings together and reuniting families.

Goshen Homes is designed for reunification.
We believe that the best place for a child is with their family, if their family can get healthy and stable. While adoptions do happen occasionally, our main priority is for kids to end up back in their family. We are thrilled to say that in July we celebrated 10 youth returning to their families! 

*These names were were changed for privacy reasons.
While we love the pictures that come with an adoption celebration, we want to celebrate family reunifications just as much! There is no better example of Goshen Homes living out its mission than the above 4 families coming back together!

Not only were all of these sibling groups placed together during their time in care (another key component of Goshen Homes' mission), they are leaving foster care returning to healthy families!

Help Goshen Homes Cover the Gap!

Goshen Valley receives the majority of our funding from Georgia DFCS. We receive a certain amount for each day a child is in our care. Thanks to your generosity, Goshen is in a strong enough place financially to push for reunifications without hesitation. You have allowed us to always pursue the best possible outcome for each child regardless of the financial implication.

Your support today will ensure that Goshen stays in this place of strength, always knowing that we can put the needs of our kids first.

Donate to help restore families.

Thank you for making reunifications like these possible..

Our team is thankful for you, but I know there are 4 families who are even more grateful.

-Your Goshen Family

P.S: We have some amazing foster parents who stand in the gap to love these children during their time in foster care. We need more people who are interested in providing a loving home to sibling groups.

If you'd like to learn more about fostering, download our fostering guide at Goshenvalley.org/homes


Brasfield & Gorrie selects Goshen Valley as Nonprofit Partner of the Year

Brasfield & Gorrie selects Goshen Valley as Nonprofit Partner for their 2021-2022 Fall Fundraiser

After a month-long process which began with 13 nonprofit applicants, Brasfield & Gorrie has selected Goshen Valley to be their partner for their 2021 and 2022 fall fundraisers. This event and partnership have historically raised around $250,000 per year to support the chosen nonprofit’s mission.

As of 2019, Goshen launched a new program to target root cause issues surrounding foster care, providing mental health and therapy services to families at risk of experiencing a foster care placement in the future. This funding will allow Goshen Valley to scale this program and serve far more vulnerable families.    

Zach Blend, CEO of Goshen Valley, says, This is an exciting time in the life of Goshen Valley. As our direct care work with Georgia’s foster children enters its 23rd year, we are equally excited about the positive influence we can also have through serving at-risk families preventively. The support raised by Brasfield & Gorrie and their subcontractors will fund the progression of Goshen Therapeutic Services throughout the state’s northwest region. Our intention is to continue to serve foster children within our three operating agencies to the very best of our ability while being mindful of the root cause matters that create the need for such services. Easy access to therapy, family counseling and other support services is the first step in that process.”

This year Brasfield & Gorrie instituted a new process to select their nonprofit partner of the year. Thirteen non-profits were invited to complete an application, and five were selected to present to a leadership committee. The group was then narrowed down to three, and an employee vote determined the winner. Goshen Valley received 53% of the employee votes in this process. 

“In addition to the financial support our employees and trade contractors will provide, we will participate in service days on Goshen’s Ranch campus. We love getting our hands dirty,” said Brent Perkins, director of personal development at Brasfield & Gorrie. Perkins led the selection committee.

“At Brasfield & Gorrie we believe in building strong communities. We love being a blessing to others. Goshen’s work with boys in the foster care system, the therapeutic services offered to families, and their increasing focus on root cause education for families all line up with our values. We are excited to be a partner with Goshen Valley!” - Brent Perkins

Zach Blend compared residential foster care to running a construction business, but one where you can only build on the site of a previous catastrophe. “We do great work in residential care, but we also want to focus on root-cause. We want to stabilize families before the building collapses. This funding will allow us to expand our work in ways that will keep families strong before a foster care placement occurs. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of Brasfield & Gorrie, and we are confident that many families will be strengthened and rescued as a direct result of this partnership.”

About Brasfield & Gorrie

Founded in 1964, Brasfield & Gorrie is one of the nation’s largest privately held construction firms, providing general contracting, design-build, and construction management services for a wide variety of markets. We are skilled in construction best practices, including virtual design and construction, integrated project delivery, and Lean construction, but we are best known for our preconstruction and self-perform expertise and exceptional client service. Brasfield & Gorrie has 12 offices and more than 3,200 employees. Our 2020 revenues were $3.9 billion. Engineering News-Record ranks Brasfield & Gorrie 22nd among the nation’s “Top 400 Contractors” for 2020. Brasfield & Gorrie is ENR Southeast's 2021 Contractor of the Year.


Goshen Valley named one of AJC’s Top Workplaces 2021

Goshen Valley has been named one of the AJC’s Top Workplaces 2021!

The Goshen Valley Foundation has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2021 honor by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We are grateful to the 65 full time employees at Goshen Valley who felt that we were deserving of this recognition. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage, LLC. The anonymous survey uniquely measures 15 culture drivers that are critical to the success of any organization: including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

“During this very challenging time, Top Workplaces has proven to be a beacon of light for organizations, as well as a sign of resiliency and strong business performance,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “When you give your employees a voice, you come together to navigate challenges and shape your path forward. Top Workplaces draw on real-time insights into what works best for their organization, so they can make informed decisions that have a positive impact on their people and their business.”

Of the 3,035 companies surveyed, the AJC named 175 Georgia employers as their 2021 Top Workplaces. Goshen Valley is one of 86 in the small business category, one of 9 non-profits, and one of 2 employers in Cherokee County named to the list.

Zach Blend, CEO of Goshen Valley, says that Goshen’s mission to provide hope, healing, and generational change to foster youth is something that the Goshen team has rallied around.

“When you have such an important mission, it is easier to look past the issues that can hurt morale. Our employees are part of something bigger than themselves, and at times the work can be just as transformational to us as it is our kids.” - Zach Blend, CEO

Not only is this announcement meaningful for Goshen employees, it also makes a major impact on the youth and families that we serve. The 113 kids in our care have had family come in and out of their lives previously, and Goshen wants to ensure the staff and foster parents that work with them are in it for the long haul. The vulnerable families in need of mental health services coming to Goshen can know that their case worker and therapist will be better equipped to get them back on their feet. Prospective foster families who are considering making a life altering change to bring kids into their home know that they will have the training and support of a great team that will be by their side through the journey.

This announcement means a great deal to the team at Goshen Valley, and we are excited for the ways that it will impact our youth and families as we work to create generational change.


An Essay by GNB Youth, Quintavious Jennings 

Your past Does Not Determine Who You Are      

All I could remember was seeing the sun slowly creeping through the clouds as the officers put the handcuffs on me and escorted me to the back of the police car. I did not understand it then but being arrested and charged with several accounts would save my life. Life is full of experiences that will teach you lessons that you can either learn from or overlook. I chose to learn from every experience after this defining moment in my life. After that night, walking through doors took on a new meaning in my life and there are 3 doors that have made the biggest impact in my life: the Courthouse, the Regional Youth Detention Center and Goshen New Beginnings. 

The first door that I entered that made a big impact on my life was the door to the County Courthouse in November 2014. As a thirteen-year-old, African American young man, just the idea of facing a judge with such serious charges is terrifying. Yet, four months after being charged, I had to appear in court and meet face to face with a judge, as she would be the one to give me my official sentencing. I walked to the podium and looked up at her. She stopped, stared into my eyes and said,

“You are too young, and it is not too late for you to turn your life around, but you have to want it. I can’t want it more than you.”

She reduced my sentence and added a stipulation that with good behavior I could be released early to a program into the community. After that moment, I decided to change and break the cycle of my family going in and out of jail. 

The second door that I had to walk through that had a major influence on my life was the Regional Youth Detention Center. From the moment I walked into the RYDC, I realized that I never wanted to come back to a place like that. I saw young men get into fights and get beat up. Everything at the RYDC reminded me of what I wanted to get away from; gangs, fights, criminal activity, and pain. After being at the RYDC for three years, I finished my sentencing and was given the chance to go to a program that would help me achieve my goals. I went to a few programs, but it was not until I went to Goshen that I felt a true sense of family and acceptance. 

In July 2019, I entered through the third door that has helped shape me into the young man I am today, though I am still growing and evolving. Goshen New Beginnings is an independent living program that supports youth like me. I needed someone to believe in me and see past my story. I needed a group of people to believe in my dreams. I needed people that saw my pain but would help me work through the pain and not give up on me. I am so blessed to have found a community that has accepted me and is providing me with the tools I need to become better. I want to do better because I know that, typically people with my story end up back in jail or dead, and that will not be my ending. 

Six years ago, the chapters to my story were ugly and sad, but today I can proudly say that my past will not determine who I am or where I am headed. I have spent countless nights praying and asking God to help me turn my life around and show me the correct path to take. God has surrounded me with people who care about me, but I have learned that I need to do the work - for my past not to determine my future. My thought process, goals, and decision- making need to change, because it all starts with me, and I am worth it. Life is full of doors, and I will continue to open doors to new opportunities, happiness, and a story full of change, grace and second chances.


Goshen Valley Community Wellness Center

Goshen Valley Community Wellness Center

January 11, 2020 Ribbon Cutting

Goshen Valley Boy's Ranch held their ribbon cutting of the Goshen Community Wellness Center (The Well) on Saturday January 11, 2020. 135 community members who purchased bricks to help fund the facility joined for the celebration. 

As guests arrived at The Well, crowds formed outside as people searched for their bricks among the 304 custom bricks at the entrance. After getting their free t-shirts and Chick-Fil-A, guests congregated in the gymnasium for a celebration ceremony. Evan Ingram welcomed the guests and thanked them for their donations. Rachel Blend prayed over the facility and those who made it possible. Zach Blend thanked all who made this facility possible. Matthew Moring, Goshen alumni and US Military Veteran, shared his gratitude for all those who are helping boys like him experience a home and a family. 

As a surprise within the ceremony, the 2020 Goshen Spirit Award was presented to Paul and Julie Freudenstein. Paul has been a board member since the beginning of Goshen Valley, and his assistance was foundational to the construction of The Well.

To conclude the ceremony Goshen decided to mix things up. Since The Well could not have been built debt-free without the help of every person in attendance, Goshen decided to ditch the ceremonial giant scissors and give a pair of scissors to every guest in attendance. All at once, 135 guests who had purchased a brick and made The Well possible cut the ribbon together. 

Goshen Alumni, Matthew Moring put it better than we ever could...

"Someone told me earlier that this building has limits. I don't see this (the Well) as a building. I see the heart of Goshen Valley here, and the heart of Goshen Valley does not have limits."

For decades to come, the Goshen Community Wellness Center will provide the foster youth at Goshen Valley Boy's Ranch with a place to play, to learn, and to grow. But more importantly, The Well will be a place for our kids to call home for the rest of their lives.

Goshen Valley would like to thank all who support our kids and made the construction of this facility possible. The youth who live at Goshen will be forever impacted by your generosity. 


A letter from our CEO...

In a follow up to his father's letter to you all, our CEO, Zach Blend, took some time to thank you and to give you an update on where we are and where we are going.

Would you consider an end of year gift to support the foster youth of Goshen Valley?

Donate Here.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Friends,

As we look forward to the new year, I consider it an honor to update you on the progress being made within Goshen Valley. A wise man once said, “if it was easy, everyone would do it.” We have an amazing team on the front lines caring for children and families, but I would be remiss if I didn't also thank our donors and community partners who have made our work to date possible. All of you are the reason that Goshen has been able to not only survive, but grow and thrive through 20 years of changing seasons.

In 2019 we celebrated our 20 year of ministry to children. Much has changed since 1999, but what has stayed consistent is the unwavering support of those who know of our work. In recent years, I feel as if we have done an admirable job at putting resources to work the right way, whether it be in our ministries that are evolving such as Goshen Valley Boys Ranch or our ministries that are emerging such as Goshen Therapeutic Services. Some important highlights and outcomes for each of our programs in 2019 include:

Goshen Valley Boys Ranch: We have completed the construction of the Goshen Community Wellness Center that includes 12,000 square feet of classroom, staff training, clinic and gymnasium space. The significance of this facility cannot be understated. We have new found capacity to serve our boys and our staff in ways not previously capable.

Goshen New Beginnings: In May we congratulated 9 high school graduates, setting a mark locally and nationally. 7 of those young people are now enrolled in college.

Goshen Homes: We now serve nearly 40 children; all of whom are siblings that were at risk of experiencing separation absent the care of our foster families. We have families located in Cherokee, Cobb and Pickens County.

Goshen Therapeutic Services: We have a new opportunity to work both with birth families impacted by foster care, and also to preventatively help at-risk families be strengthened before losing their children. We were awarded the state contracts to provide these services in August, and we look forward to a wider launch in 2020.

We understand that now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Now is the time to seek ways to create better outcomes for our youth in residential care while starting to offer family-preservation services. I am confident that we are ready to do both with the high standard that Goshen has become known for, but we can only continue to do them with your help.

We are well positioned to truly shape both child welfare and community mental health in the state of Georgia in the years ahead, but we cannot do it without you. As you consider your end-of-year giving, I ask that you remember Goshen Valley. The well-being of our children and the future of local families hangs in the balance, and we hope you will answer the call as part of our Goshen Family. 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year,

Zach Blend
Chief Executive Officer Goshen Valley Foundation