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


A Letter from our Founder...

With the end of the year approaching and our need for giving growing with the holidays, our founder, John Blend, sent a letter to our donors. We wanted to share it with you, our Goshen Family.

____________________________________________________________________

Friends,

I was raised a Lutheran. Sunday School, acolyte, Boy Scout, Little League, Luther League, on to a Lutheran college. My dad took the same train every day, my mom was at home. I was in the inaugural Baby Boomer batch.

In 1966, the summer of my sophomore year in college, I studied Latin American literature at the National University of Mexico, in Mexico City, DF. When not in class, I worked in a jewelry factory near the University. Over the summer, I volunteered at a Catholic orphanage in the suburbs of Mexico City. The orphans were “thalidomide babies”, born with no arms. I brought broken jewelry from the factory to the orphanage and the kids were paid to restring the broken necklaces with their feet and toes. When I came back to the States that fall, I would try to send the Mother Superior $20 when I could.

Thus came the seeds of Goshen Valley.

Twenty years ago, having spent the years prior riding horses and teaching my daughter to drive our old Jeep, God woke the seeds brought from the hills of Mexico City, and led the Blends to welcoming hurting kids and servant families to Goshen Valley. We established the Goshen Valley Foundation in 1998, and gifted Goshen Valley back to Christ.

Over these past 2 decades, the Goshen Family has listened, learned, and executed. A dear preacher friend observed some years ago that he preferred if Goshen would pray, not plan, as the story has already been written. There’s wisdom there.

So, what is in store for Goshen? If the past is the prelude, we will continue to serve. Our community will continue to sacrifice at our side and on our behalf. We will hope that our Father is pleased with the sanctuary He has given us.

In a coming note, Zach will share more about where Goshen is heading in the future. For now, I want to thank you for your role in the past 20 years of Goshen. We believe God has made the world a more welcoming place for the youth who have called Goshen Valley home, and for that, we thank you.

With love and much gratitude,

John Blend


Goshen hosts 7th annual Cherokee Child Welfare Luncheon presented by Northside Hospital Cherokee

Goshen hosts the 7th annual Cherokee Child Welfare Luncheon presented by Northside Hospital Cherokee.

On Thursday Sept 19, over 275 community leaders in child welfare came together for the 7th annual Cherokee Child Welfare Luncheon, presented by Northside Hospital-Cherokee. This year’s event was headlined by Tom Rawlings, state director of DFCS, and we were also joined by Miss Georgia 2019 Victoria Hill.

Ike Reighard of Must Ministries opened the day with a prayer and an update on Must’s recent State of Hope grant. They were awarded these funds in an effort to service families preventatively, with the aim of fewer youth entering in to foster care.

Victoria Hill, Miss Georgia 2019, shared her passion for assisting girls in foster care, and told those in attendance how she plans to use her platform this year to help foster youth. Victoria then sang “A Horse with Wings,” a song she says could have been written from the perspective of a child in foster care. Victoria will be competing in the Miss America pageant on December 19th.

Zach Blend, CEO of Goshen Valley, then shared an update on Goshen Valley. He shared that Goshen has launched our fourth agency; Goshen Therapeutic Services. This agency is designed to strengthen and restore families through licensed, comprehensive therapeutic services. The aim of this program is to provide services both to families who have already lost their children to foster care, and also strengthen those at risk of losing their children. Zach also gave an update on the Goshen Community Wellness Center, set to open in November on site at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch, and shared the story of the 9 high school graduates from Goshen Valley in May 2019.

Brooke Ford, Director of Cherokee County DFCS, provided an update on our local DFCS office. Brooke shared that their after hours team is fully staffed, they have hired 18 new case managers this year, and that employee retention is an important focus for their team. Brooke also shared a video of their employees sharing stories of why they choose to live, work, and play in Cherokee County.

Tom Rawlings, State Director of the Division of Family and Children Services, shared about his work and priorities as the head of DFCS. He said his main goal in office is to improve the support of the frontline workers. He wants frontline DFCS workers to be seen as heroes in the same light as nurses, firefighters, teachers, and other professions are in the eyes of the community. He stated that this change will reduce turnover and improve safety and outcomes for the youth served by DFCS.

This year, 2 Goshen Spirit Awards were given to community leaders who have gone above and beyond to serve the vulnerable children of our community. The first was given to Deidre Hollands, former leader of Cherokee County CASA. Deidre served for 19 years and founded CASA in Cherokee County. She led the campaign to build the Children’s Haven visitation center across from Cherokee High School that serves to reunite and restore families. The second award went to Ronnie Reece who this year retired from a full career working security in the Cherokee County Court. Ronnie is a much-beloved member of our community who is highly deserving of this award.

The program concluded with all in attendance reciting Our Cherokee Commitment, a pledge recited at the event each year. Goshen Valley would like to thank all who attended and made this event such a success. More pictures from the event can be found on Goshen Valley’s Facebook page.


Georgia Teenworks at Goshen Valley

Georgia TeenWorks program giving Georgia's foster youth at Goshen a boost for success.

 

TeenWorks is a program run by the state where foster youth age 16-18 get to gain valuable work experience. While these teens are supervised and trained by a local employer, they are paid by Georgia. This allows foster youth to gain work experience and build both their resumes and their potential career pathways. 

We interviewed two of these Goshen youth who spent this summer working at the Boys & Girls Club and R&D Mechanical Services

Edward had the opportunity to work for the Malon D. Mims Boys & Girls Cub this summer.  Edward, says, “They provide an introduction to the workforce. It has helped me prepare and save for college, while also learning several new skills. I learned how to interact with my boss and be respectful. It bettered my relationships and made me more efficient in helping me save for college.”

Tyler says the best part of Teenworks this year for him was, “getting to work with R&D Mechanical. I got to learn a lot and had new options open up for my future that I never would have known about.” He says to R&D, “Thank you for letting me work with you this summer, and giving me the opportunity to create a new life goal… I know I’ve got the knowledge and skill set to start a career in HVAC.”

It’s this kind of forward-thinking and education that will help foster youth at Goshen grow to be successful young adults as they grow out of our care. We are not only looking to better these kid’s present situation, but also their future. 

Both boys had parting messages for their employers and for the TeenWorks program. Edward says, “TeenWorks taught me to save my money for the things I want, and the things I will soon be held responsible for as an adult. Learning how to save and manage my money will be crucial when going through the medical school process and managing finances for the rest of my life.” Tyler Woody said “Thank you for letting me work with you this summer, and giving me the opportunity to create a new life goal.”

We are so proud of our youth and thankful for our employment partners who set our teenage youth up for lifelong thriving success!