Mandela Washington Fellowship Returns to Goshen

Last year, we had the incredible honor of hosting the Mandela Washington Fellows at the Ranch. We had an amazing experience and were thrilled about these new relationships (click here to read more). This year was no different. Hosting the Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF) at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch brought forth laughter, learning and life-long lessons.

The MWF program was founded by President Obama in 2014. It is now run by the State Department. Each year 200 African leaders age 25-35 are invited to come study in American universities for six weeks. The experience culminates in a week long leadership summit in Washington D.C. Because Goshen Valley is ranked as Georgia’s top child welfare provider, MWF wanted to come back to the Ranch for a day of learning about child welfare practice, teambuilding, and experience sharing.

When the MWF group arrived, we knew it was going to be a day of joy. We started the day with an informal meeting. Our Founder, John Blend, and our CEO, Zach Blend, shared about our history and stories. We then moved into our Team Building activities led by senior consultant Mike Angstadt. There was singing, dancing, storytelling and prayer. The MWF group left Goshen Valley equipped with new tools for both leading teams and providing opportunities for youth in need in their home countries.

The session then led to a hayride tour of the Ranch, where the MWF group was able to have a true southern lunch provided by Four41 South BBQ in each of the homes. In the homes, the groups interacted with our house parents and youth. Both parties were asking questions about cultures, interests, education, and language. We saw a group of African Leaders ministering to our youth, and in return, the boys hanging on every word they said.

In a world that can be filled with debates, arguments and differences, children and adults of different cultures came together to share their similarities and to learn about each other’s lives.

The joy shown among the youth and the African leaders is precisely the type of character the world needs to see. The picturesque way the groups interacted was simply beautiful. The African leaders high-fived the youth after a great shot on the soccer field and offered them encouragement. The youth and leaders sang songs together and strummed on the guitar. These are the types of moments that are etched deep within the memory of all who saw.

We hope you catch a glimpse of the day in the video shot by Chandler Elder. We are incredibly thankful for all vendors involved, Georgia State University for choosing to partner with us, and especially to the 25 Mandela Fellows who shared the day with us.


Eagle Scout Project- New Ranch Signage!

 

Last fall, the Barnfield family came to serve at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch through Woodstock City Church’s “Be Rich” campaign. They all were inspired by their day of service. Just as we always hope, they became interested in getting more involved.

A few months later, Connor Barnfield began planning his Eagle Scout project. He decided to help out Goshen Valley, and through discussions with Zach, he decided to create new signage for the Ranch. This has been a significant need for Goshen Valley over the past several years, but with limited manpower and funding, it had not yet happened.

We expected something along the lines of plywood signs with painted logos and directions. Connor decided to take this project to a far greater level of excellence. He researched the best materials to use and found a highly resistant polycarbonate structure that will last much longer than wood. He found a CNC Router to engrave our logos and writings with perfection. Connor and his family then took hours detailing and painting the engravings to look phenomenal on the white signs.

On Saturday, Connor brought his family and 14 additional volunteers to the Ranch. We worked for six hours installing seven signs all around the Ranch. Connor even came back on Sunday to touch up a few spots and install an improved border on the entrance sign.

This is not the first Eagle Scout project to take place on the Ranch, and with several other aspiring Eagle Scout’s in attendance serving Saturday we are excited to welcome more going forward!

Goshen Valley is incredibly thankful for the excellent signs made by Connor Barnfield for his Eagle Scout project. Thank you to Woodstock City Church, The Boy Scouts, all of the volunteers involved, Tony and Missy Barnfield, and most of all to Connor Barnfield for the excellent work. Goshen is better because of people like you.


Goshen Graduates- Defying the Odds

  • The statistics show that only 50% of youth in foster care will receive a high school diploma.
  • Only 10% of former foster youth will attend college.

Graduating high school is an accomplishment to be celebrated for any teenager, but especially for youth in foster care. We want to highlight the youth in our care that have achieved this great milestone while being away from their parents and family support. We are extremely proud of each of them and the next steps they are making! Each graduate is attending college and continuing to grow with peace and purpose.

Your investment into Goshen Valley has made a way for these young people to succeed. Every gift given was utilized to surround them with the safety of a home, love of a family and hope for the future. We hope you enjoy seeing the fruits of your support!

If you would like to participate in the $50 for 5 campaign you can give a special gift in honor of our graduates below:


Summer Needs: Comfort Kits and More

As summer approaches, Goshen Valley has a variety of ways that you can help our youth have an amazing summer break! We are highlighting “Comfort Kits” as a special current need, and we also have several other ways your small group, business, or family can partner with Goshen in this season.

Goshen Valley Boys Ranch is in need of six comfort kits. These kits are designed to help our boys feel at home during what can be a tough transition into foster care. Many of our boys have trouble sleeping, and we want to provide each house with a kit that can help. If your family or small group would like to put one together please let us know.

Suggested items:
Soft blankets
Sound machines
Lava lamps
Clock radios
Night lights
Essential Oils
Diffusers
Stuffed animals that shine stars on ceiling
Plush pillows
Weighted blankets

In addition to this special current need, below are additional ways that you can partner with Goshen over the summer to help our boys have an amazing summer break!

Summer needs:
Meals delivered to homes
Off campus rec trips for a house or the whole Ranch
Access to water activities (invite a house to your pool, take a house to the lake, etc)
Pressure wash a house
Paint a deck
Soccer goals
Kayaks
Paddles
Life jackets
Gift cards to use as event prizes

For more information, or to commit to one of the listed items, please email Evan Ingram: [email protected]


Fishing Rodeo

We had an incredible time at the Fishing Rodeo on Saturday! First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Renesant Bank, and Allstar Financial Group led the charge on an incredible outing for our boys. “The event was great! The boys caught over 380 fish!” says Donald Rampley. "It was exciting to see some of these young men catch a fish for the first time."

The fishing rodeo took place in Rockmart, Georgia at a private lake owned by Allstar Financial Group. There were multiple stations where groups of our boys rotated throughout the day. Adult volunteers from FBCW guided our boys at each station, ensuring each one had a great time and caught as many fish as possible.

“Every boy at the Ranch caught a fish, the volunteers made sure of it,” says Scott Gaither, house parent supervisor at the Ranch. “The event is one of the highlights of the year! Last year was great, but this year was even better!

One of our boys who had never been fishing before absolutely loved the experience. “It was the first time I ever went fishing, and I caught six fish!” He now has a new fishing pole and is excited to try again soon.

The fishing rodeo was an incredible day for our boys, and we are very grateful for everyone who played a role in making it happen!


"Whatever the work is, we want in."

Every year we join Woodstock City Church to host a series of service days called “Be Rich”. “Be Rich” is a Woodstock City Church initiative non-profits around Atlanta for several Saturdays of “Give. Serve. Love.” And we are blessed to partner with them. The fruit of this ministry partnership is seen in the wonderful people that connect to the mission of Goshen Valley and serve with us year round.

There is a small group from WCC that regularly sponsors our young men to go play paintball for an off campus recreation activity. Earlier this month this group approached the house dad of the Hope House, Josh Voyles, where most of our older kids live asking if they wanted to join a serving opportunity. There is a woman at WCC whose husband recently passed away from a heart attack while mountain biking at only 36 years old. This tragedy left her to take care of their two young children. The group asked if Josh if they would like to come help remodel her bathroom and pressure wash the house in an effort to help her get the home in better condition before they sell it. Before Josh could tell the boys the whole story they stopped him and said, “Whatever the work is, we want in.”

Our Goshen Valley staff and youth always amaze us with their uncommon kindness. “Whatever the work is, we want in” sounds a lot like “Here I am Lord, send me.” We are grateful for the moments where the light of Christ shines through the work of Goshen. Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our ministry.


Uncommon Kindness- The Goshen Good Samaritan

Goshen Valley believes they have the best staff on the planet and love to brag on them any chance we can. One of our respite parents, Mike Lind, showed an act of uncommon and extraordinary kindness recently.

Monday Jan 30 around 8:30 am Mike was driving along Salacoa Rd. when he saw what looked like a car down an embankment. In a situation where most people would’ve convinced themselves it was nothing, Mike pulled over to check it out. He parked and saw a car that had crashed into a tree. It looked like no one was there, but he called out and heard a mumbled voice respond.

Mike ran to the car and saw a baby in a car seat in the back. He broke out the remainder of the window and got the baby to a safe spot. He was unable to get the driver out, as he was delirious and trapped by a crushed car door. He was losing blood quickly. Mike flagged down a truck passing by and had them rush to highway 140 and call 911, as neither had cell reception at their current location. Mike held and calmed the baby until paramedics arrived and rushed the driver to the hospital.

Later that day Mike seemed fine overall but his hand was a bit cut up from the glass of the window. He was very worried about whether that baby's dad was going to survive, and he doubted that he would even make it to the hospital. He said that the driver is alive and well, and that baby girl is perfectly fine as well. Had Mike thought that his schedule was too important to stop, or had he convinced himself that it probably wasn't a car down there, this man very likely would be dead. I cannot think of a better real-life example of the Good Samaritan Jesus talked about.


An Interview with Stacy Cooper

Stacy Cooper is the executive director of the Goshen Valley Boys Ranch. She describes her role as “overseeing the quality of care, operations, and safety of both the boys and our staff.” She has been with Goshen for over three years and has done incredible work in advancing care for our boys as well as staff longevity and satisfaction.

I asked Stacy what she loved most about working at Goshen. She gave two answers that would not surprise anyone who has seen her passionate endeavors at the Ranch. First she said “getting to know the staff and serving in ministry together.” We would be hard pressed to find any Ranch employees who have not felt the deep love and intentional care Stacy gives freely to her staff. Her second answer is even more obvious, and 46 boys could attest to it each day. “Of course the boys. They are absolutely precious.” When asked about her favorite aspect of working with the boys, Stacy elaborated that she loves being with them when things are not going well. “You can come out of it with a deeper relationship and show them that even when things are bad you will be there for them.” This mindset and practice is profoundly powerful for youth who have found themselves in foster care.

I then asked Stacy about her favorite memory during the past three years at Goshen. It was obvious that her mind was filled with story after story of love and transformation; Peace and Purpose changing the heart and direction of so many youth. She said that she absolutely loves seeing a boy exceed in ways that others would have thought impossible. She told of a boy she interviewed on his first day at Goshen. He was overly anxious and kept apologizing. He couldn’t look anyone in the eye or sit still. He asked what kind of clothes hangers we used at the Ranch. Stacy felt an immediate connection with this boy, and through the years she has watched him transform.

“He had never felt free at home. One day I saw him running laps around the football field, and every time he passed by he excitedly said ‘Hey Mrs. Stacy!’ He learned how to ride a bike at the Ranch at age 13. Everything was so new to him. He saw the world open up. He even got a girlfriend.” Stacy says he brought a note from her home and was so excited to share the good news with her. Last year he went to a Braves game and rode with Stacy and two other staff members. She said that in his sleep deprived state at 1:30 he was “goofing off, laughing, singing, and laying his head on my shoulder. This is a level of freedom he never knew before arriving at Goshen. He thinks of the Ranch as his family, and here he has experienced the world and grown up so much.”

The love and acceptance Stacy gives so freely have impacted the lives of so many youth and will continue to do so for years to come. We cannot thank Stacy enough for the work she does every day serving both our staff and the youth in care at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch.


What we are Most Proud of

One of our greatest honors is to watch young men and women who leave our care allow God to turn their difficult circumstances into fuel for a purposeful life that positively impacts our world. Today we celebrate!

Kevin Armour

US Marine Corps, Lance Corporal (2009-2013)
1812 Tank Crewman
Operation Enduring Freedom
Kuwait, Afghanistan

Kevin was at Goshen Valley from 2006-2008

 

Shawn Chapman, Active

US Marine Corps, Private First Class
0811 Artillery Cannonier

Shawn was at Goshen Valley from 2009-2010 and 2014-2016

 

Chase Chitwood, Active

US Marine Corps, E-3 Lance Corporal
3531 Motor Transportation Operator

Chase was at Goshen Valley for 8 years, from 2008-2015

 

Wade Godfrey, Active

US Navy, Petty Officer
3rd Rated Master at Arms

Wade was at Goshen Valley from 2007-2010 and 2014-2015

 

Geoffrey Laney, Active

US Marine Corps, Lance Corporal
1142 Mechanical Engineer

Geoff was at Goshen Valley for 6 years, from 2010-2015

 

John Metcalf, Active

US Army National Guard, 2nd Lieutenant

John was at Goshen Valley from 2008-2010

 

Matthew Moring, Active

US Marine Corps, Private First Class
0311 Infantryman

Matt was at Goshen Valley from 2008-2011

Today Goshen Valley is a vocational ministry to 4 veterans and 1 active National Guard Sergeant. We are so thankful that they have continued a lifetime of service from the armed forces to human services in foster care.

Chris Copeland

US Air Force, Staff Sergeant E5
2000-2006
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom

Chris has worked at Goshen Valley with his wife Lorissa since 2014 in the area of Facilities Director, respite parent and as a foster parent.

 

Spencer Doyle

US Marine Corps, E-5 Sergeant
1995-1999
Gulf War - Kuwait
USS ESSEX

Spencer has worked at Goshen Valley with his wife Keren since 2014 as a foster parent, facilities staff and respite parent.

 

Paul Drennan

US Marines, Military Police
1989-1992
Desert Shield/Desert Storm
1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade

Paul has worked at Goshen Valley since 2010 as a full-time respite parent with his wife Tanya and currently as Director of Placement Services.

 

Mike Lind

US Marines, Infantry Sergeant
Combined Arms Team
2001-2005
Front line invasion force for Operation Iraqi Freedom

Mike has worked at Goshen Valley with his wife Tina since 2015 as a respite parent.

 

Josh Voyes, Active

US Army National Guard, Sergeant
2011 to present
Heavy Equipment Mechanic

Josh has worked at Goshen Valley since 2013 as a house father in the Covenant House. He and his wife Julie are expecting their first child in March!


Mandela Washington Fellowship Visits Goshen Valley

America’s eyes have been locked in on St. Louis, Minnesota, and Dallas these past weeks – and rightly so. We cannot turn a blind eye to all that has taken place. This does not mean, however, that we must ignore the good and the beautiful taking place around us. Something incredibly good and beautiful happened Saturday July 9 in Waleska, Georgia.Movie Rings (2017)

 

The Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF) program was founded by President Obama in 2014. This year, MWF selected 200 young African leaders age 25-35 to come and learn at American universities for six weeks. They will then spend three days in Washington D.C. – including a town hall meeting with the Obamas. 25 of these young leaders are studying at Georgia State University, and on Saturday July 9, they visited Goshen Valley Boys Ranch.

 

The Goshen Valley Foundation is ranked as Georgia’s top child caring institution. Goshen Valley Boys Ranch (the Ranch) houses 46 boys in foster care. A few individuals leading the MWF group in Atlanta, namely Dr. Sharon Hill, long time advocate of Goshen Valley and previous Deputy Director of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), reached out to Goshen Valley about hosting the Atlanta MWF group for a day. We accepted with great pleasure.

 

Our day began with an informational meeting. Our Founder, John Blend, as well as two of our directors, Stacy Cooper and Giselle Espinal-Francis, shared about our history, stories, practices, and financial details. The MWF participants were equipped with data, audits, and resources to improve orphan care and other non-profit industries in their home countries.

 

The informational meeting led to a true southern lunch provided by Bub-Ba-Q. We then took a hayride tour of the Ranch and visited two homes on our property. Then began one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

 

There exists a plethora of pictures featuring white Americans playing with African kids during a mission trip. Saturday at Goshen Valley I saw the roles reversed. A group of African leaders came to Waleska, GA and played soccer with our kids in foster care.

 

During their time together I witnessed some beautiful interactions. I saw children who, rather than being focused on our differences, were filled with curiosity about our guests. They did not want to debate; they just wanted to be friends and show off their clean rooms and soccer skills. They asked our guests questions such as “What is it like to travel to a different country?” and, “What has surprised you about America?” and, “You’re from Madagascar? Have you seen the movie?”

 

Maybe this country would be better off if we were all a bit more like children. Maybe we need to prioritize what we have in common rather than letting our differences separate us. Maybe I need to ask more questions instead of giving better answers. Maybe we need to play more soccer and have fewer arguments.

 

And maybe I need to watch Madagascar and see what that country is all about.

– Evan Ingram, Residential Life, Goshen Valley Boys Ranch

 

 

 

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“Goshen Valley has reminded me of the love that can heal broken souls and strengthened my resolve to make a change back home in Nigeria.” – Dr. Matilda Kerry Osazuwa, Founder – George Kerry Life Foundation

 

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“I was talking to one of the fellows about his experience. He said, ‘In much of our time here, Americans seem very individualistic and isolated. Visiting Goshen Valley has been the best part of our visit. You aren’t like that here. This place feels like a family.'” – Anthony Hall, Life Coach, reflecting on a personal conversation

Click for information on the Young African Leaders Institute.