Marina from Koinonia Homes for Teens

Success Story

Marina learned the hard way that the old saying is true: Sometimes you can’t go home. Marina’s childhood was marked by addiction – her parents’ addiction and her own. Fortunately, her probation officer saw her perseverance and determination and sent her to Koinonia Homes for Teens.

As a foster youth at Koinonia, Marina turned her life around, due in part to Koinonia’s participation in United Way’s financial stability initiative, which includes our $en$e-Ability project that helps foster youth become financially literate and build savings accounts for when they move out on their own.

Through our financial stability initiative, including our $en$e-Ability project Marina participates in, we are calling on community members to be first responders in improving our region’s financial stability by giving immediate aid and finding lasting solutions for future generations. The project is also helping local families improve their financial stability. As part of United Way’s financial stability initiative, United Way also is leading the Assets & Opportunities Network, mobilizing nonprofits, companies and volunteers to look at financial stability data in our community and work to increase the number of individuals who are financially thriving.

But it all starts with financial literacy and savings.

“I loved the financial literacy classes,” Marina said. “It was like a training on things parents should be teaching you – like how to open a bank account and protect yourself from identity theft – but on a bigger scale. They even brought in bankers! My parents didn’t know any of that stuff, so how was I supposed to? I feel really smart now.”

Marina began earning credits toward her matched savings account designed for foster youth, and she graduated high school this spring. But she made the difficult decision to not go home to her parents. She wanted to start fresh. She is enrolled at Sierra College for the fall semester, is working for Round Table Pizza and is very involved in her church. She plans to major in nursing and hopes to one day use her skills to serve people across the nation and in third world countries.

Marina feels prepared, thanks to the many skills she learned at Koinonia and the savings account she developed.

“The $en$e-Ability matched savings accounts are amazing and one of the few benefits of being a foster youth,” Marina said.