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Katie Nebenzahl has lived her whole life with fear and anxiety—but when she feels comfortable, her mother Nancy can see her happiness shine through her eyes.

Currently 34, Katie suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while in utero and during her birth, which led to visual impairment, intellectual and developmental delay (IDD), physical limitations and some autistic qualities. The traumatic birth could have created the initial fear and anxiety that Katie has exhibited throughout her life, which has led to behavioral issues as well, and resistance in following basic daily routines such as dressing, sitting down for meals, and showering.

The consistent, structured care that Katie has received since Koinonia took over the management of her home, however, has been a game-changer. “The quality of care and the teamwork in the house has been absolutely amazing,” said Nancy. She has seen a dramatic difference in the way Katie responds to her Koinonia direct support professionals (DSPs).

“Koinonia really strives to place direct support staff in the house who are a good match for the people they care for,” said Nancy. The DSPs really get to know the individuals they care for, and they truly respect them, noted Nancy.

Since Koinonia introduced trauma-informed care techniques at the home last year, Katie has been happier and more engaged in daily routines and activities. “ “She feels safe now, connected and in control, noted Nancy, and more importantly, she feels valued.” This has led Katie to feel more comfortable participating in activities and routines at her home, and to taking care of herself. “Before she was frightened to take a shower, now she showers four times a week,” Nancy shared as one example. ,” noted Nancy, and, importantly, she feels valued. This has led Katie to feel more comfortable participating in activities and routines at her home, and to taking care of herself. “Before she was frightened of water, now she showers four times a week,” Nancy shared as one example. “Katie has such a beautiful spirit, and now it is shining through.”

Nancy believes fully in the trauma-informed care that Koinonia provides—and the high quality of its staff.

“Koinonia expects more from their DSPs, they have a high standard, and they, therefore, get more,” said Nancy. “And they take good care of their employees.”

In this same way, Nancy wanted to give back to the Koinonia staff. She worked with the organization to fund a champion award that is dedicated to the memory of her late husband, Peter Nebenzahl, and will be given annually to deserving Koinonia DSPs who are living and applying the principles of trauma-informed care to the people that Koinonia serves. In addition to the award, it funds training costs associated with Koinonia becoming a Trauma-Informed Care Agency. CLICK HERE if you wish to make a donation to the Peter Nebenzahl Champion Award.