Our mission is to champion the successful permanency of each child who comes to our door. We understand that each individuals unique history, culture and needs must be considered as they journey to stable, healthy homes.

Farewell, Heather!

Heather Jefferis has announced her resignation as executive director of Kinship House, effective October 13. Heather has spent the past seven years successfully leading our organization by growing it from 9 to 25 employees, strengthening our work with community partners, and championing mental health care for foster and adopted children in our community.

We are sorry to lose Heather’s compassionate leadership and integrity and wish her every success in her new role as executive director of Oregon Prevention, Education and Recovery Association working to help increase public awareness of the contribution that prevention and treatment make in creating healthy communities. Please join us in wishing Heather grand success in her new role.

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Community Spotlight: Forward Stride

Forward Stride is one of the nation’s leading and accredited Equestrian therapeutic centers in Oregon.  Forward Stride works with individuals from the Portland area whether they are child affected by autism; a teenager with a severe brain injury; a veteran returning from war facing PTSD or someone living with a condition or disease that diminishes their confidence or mobility.

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Community Spotlight: Rosemary Anderson High School

 Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and  Rosemary Anderson High School is dedicated to  providing high quality education, job training, mentoring, family outreach  for students and graduates through the age of 25. Opportunities include credit recovery, extracurricular after school programs, community engagement activities.

Recently, development and communications director Dennise M. Kowalczyke visited with Carl Reinhold, principal at the east campus.

Get connected to learn more or enroll. 




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Light the way for foster children!

October 26, 2017 – The Exchange Ballroom
6 pm to 7 pm

Thanks to everyone who has already purchased their tickets for our Light the Way auction taking place on October 26. We are excited to enjoy an evening of fun at our annual event with you. If you haven’t done so yet, purchase your tickets today to ensure that you will be there to help light the way for foster and adopted children.

Here is another sneak peek at some of the fantastic items we will be offering:

Our live auction packages will include some incredible opportunities ranging from a drive just up I5 to our neighbor to the north, Seattle, to traveling abroad to either Italy or Bali!

Purchase your tickets today in order to join us for a delightful evening of food and fun at The Exchange Ballroom!

We look forward to seeing you on October 26. If you are unable to join us, please consider making a donation to provide support for new beginnings and healthy families for foster and adopted children.

Thank you!

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Community Collaborator: Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods

The Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN) was founded in 1975 as an independent nonprofit organization comprised of 11 neighborhoods in inner North and Northeast Portland: Alameda, Boise, Concordia, Eliot, Humboldt, Irvington, King, Sabin, Sullivan’s Gulch, Vernon, and Woodlawn.

NECN’s mission is to increase livability through highly inclusive civic engagement and grassroots community building.  NECN believes in creating healthy neighborhoods by engaging people to become directly involved in determining how their neighborhood evolves.

NECN provides support to neighborhoods through:

  • Information and Referral – NECN is a general reference point if you have questions or are looking for something in our coalition boundaries.
  • Project Assistance – We provide assistance for projects through funding, sponsorship, marketing, and more.
  • Skill-building – We provide or connect residents, organizations, and neighborhood associations with opportunities to build their knowledge base through trainings, events, workshops, and more.
  • Connections – NECN serves as a connecting point for residents, community organizations, and neighborhood associations to resources, organizations, and government agencies.
  • Policy Formation – We provide channels for residents and organizations to inform and influence policy that affect the inner North and Northeast area.

Today, we met with the staff of NECN (Fran, Jessica, Laura, and Adam) to talk about ways we can collaboratively raise awareness about opportunities and resources for foster families, as well as, share information about neighborhood happenings. Sixty-three percent of our services at Kinship House is family therapy and we see a need to grow the awareness around supporting foster families in our community.
Stay tuned for updates!

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Kinship House Welcomes A New Intern

Kinship House is pleased to welcome Emily Wintringham as a new intern in our fund development department. She will be helping with social media, crafting blog posts, and managing our e-communications. — Dennise Kowalczyk, Development & Communications Director

Meet Emily Wintringham!

This fall, I am interning as a social media and marketing assistant working with Dennise Kowalczyk, development and communications director for Kinship House. Currently, I am a senior at Warner Pacific College, studying communications and human development. I discovered Kinship House by getting in touch with the Oregon Foster Youth Connection.  I went with my district super attendant, Alissa Keny-Guyer, down to Salem and observed how issues in the foster care system were being addressed through policy. Through a series of networking, I found my niche at Kinship House. (A big thanks to Lisa McMahon for introducing me to Heather Jefferis, executive director).

I have decided that my vocation centers on my own life experience and my interpersonal skills in communication. I have been in both long term foster care and adoption situations. I have grown to understand the need to adapt and to form healthy bonds with my family. It’s definitely something I am in support of. In addition to my internship, I will serve as a Youth Advisor on the board of directors for Kinship House. I hope to advocate for positive changes that will enhance the experience for families through this life-changing program.

My goals as an intern are to develop professional skills such as marketing through social media, time management, and blogging. I cannot wait to get started!

When I’m not at Kinship House,  I love listening to music, eating tacos, writing, and brainstorming.

A big thank you to everyone who has welcomed me on board. I am super excited to be in this process of learning and growing in the non-profit environment.
Emily Wintringham


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Wanted: Scrapbook Supplies

Kinship House is looking for donations for the following that will aid in our important work in caring for foster children who come to us for care.

Creating a scrap book helps foster children share parts of their stories and helps them as they heal from the trauma they have experienced in their lifetimes.


If you are able to donate some of these items, please contact Dennise at 503-460-2796, ext. 205 or email dennise.k@kinshiphouse.org.  Thank you!

Scrap booking supplies:

Books that are 12 x12

Background pages for 12x 12

Alphabet stickers

Birthday stickers

Holiday/Season stickers



School Stickers

Sports and Vacation Stickers

Religious Stickers

Baby Stickers & Family Stickers


Word Bubble Stickers

Other Activity Stickers
baseball, horse back riding, soccer, camping, etc.

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Foster Kid Hero: Elizabeth Sutherland

I met Liz Sutherland in the Twitterverse, as I recall.  She liked one of our tweets and I reached out to her to learn more about her work in the world.  I learned a bit from reading her website,  No Ordinary Liz, and came to discover that she wrote a story about navigating the foster care system and is doing all kinds of advocacy for foster kids.  I asked if I could share a bit of her story with our community and she graciously agreed to be interviewed.

Meet….Liz Sutherland!
Liz is very passionate about the well-being of children in general and is a contributor to the book, Growing Up In The Care Of Strangers.   She is also a contributor in “Foster Care Manifesto: Defining the Alumni Movement. In her free time, Liz enjoys volunteering in her community, taking spontaneous road trips to new and adventurous places, blogging, meeting new people, being out on the water and simply enjoy what life has to offer.

Can you share a bit about your story while in foster care?
I entered foster care at the age of 13 and was immediately separated from both of my siblings. We all went our separate ways. From the time I entered care until I aged out at 18, I had been in between 10-12 different foster homes/group homes and at least several different schools. After 8 years, I was reunited with my sister. It was a pretty neat experience. We both were attending the same university and didn’t even know it! After 13 years, I was reunited with my brother at a New York Airport.

What was the most surprising thing you took away from your life as a foster child?

How people label you as an orphan or foster child. It seems when people hear those trigger words, they automatically assume that we are/were the worst kids on the planet. To this day, I never fully understand it. I believe people need to be educated on it. We need more success stories of those who did succeed in the system to help break the barrier of what we think is considered to be a “normal” kid. At the end of the day, we all want a normal and awesome life, regardless of what we have been through. Kids who grow up in this type of environment should know that this is no fault of theirs so they can move on.

How did your childhood help you get to this point in your life?

I always say, if I had to repeat my life over again, I would do so in a heartbeat. I believe it has defined me, characterized me and made me into the strong and independent woman I am today. We all are looking for our purpose in this world. This is mine. I get to be a voice for those who can’t speak their truth. I lived through it and ended up persevering and growing stronger. I want others to know that they can also have such an experience. It’s pretty amazing to be an advocate and watch it affect so many people. While I’m inspiring others, little do they know, they are inspiring me.

Do you keep in touch with any of your foster families?

No, I don’t. I feel like those individuals are part of my past now. While I appreciate them opening their homes to me and given me a chance, I feel that the kind of relationship one would like to have wasn’t there. At least for the right reasons.

Tell us about your contribution to the book, Growing Up in the Care of Strangers.

I’m an author of a story in the book, Growing up in the Care of Strangers. Eleven former child welfare clients share their experiences, insights, and recommendations for improving services to and the outcome of children in foster care, orphanages, juvenile justice and mental health placements. Now we are college-educated adults who work with, or on behalf of, children in placement. We share our individual and collective wisdom questions current “best practice” and offers alternatives.

What advice can you share with people considering how they might be able to support foster kids?

Do it for the right reasons. You always have to have a good heart to help support any cause. If this is a topic that you aren’t familiar with, but want to help, educate yourself. As much as I hate to admit it, these kids are sensitive and rightfully so. They have/are going through a lot! If anything, they need stability. Something tangible that they can hold on to and to give them any sense of hope and the comfort that there could be a good life for them out there.
What are your plans for the future?

I hope that I can continue to share my story and bring more awareness around the foster care system. Help educate people. Continue to exceed at advocacy. My lifelong dream has been to write a book. I hope to have it completed within the next six months.

If you met someone who is contemplating becoming a foster parent, what one thing would you share with them?

At the end of the day, we all want to love and be loved. If you want to experience a love like no other, love a child in foster care!

— Dennise M. Kowalczyk – Development & Communications Director

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Community Collaborator: Deacon Construction

Kinship House is thrilled to announce a special ‘thank you’ for a new community collaborator:  Deacon Construction.

The employees of Deacon rallied these past few weeks and it resulted in a donation of 80 winter coats and a tub of art supplies.  Not only that, the company is underwriting and installing a brand new play structure at our facility!


“Supporting our communities is part of our company mission. We value the relationships we build both within the business sector and the non-profit sector as well,” said marketing coordinator, Erin Reed. “Deacon is proud to be able to help support Kinship House and their efforts to provide services to children and families within the foster care system.”

The company’s mission includes a commitment to support the community with a fixed percentage of their annual profit going into the Deacon Charitable Foundation to support charitable endeavors. Since 2006, the company has given almost $2.3 million to local charities and has developed programs to help support and recognize service by their employees.  The charitable work is employee-directed.

We thank Steve Deacon, Erin and Theresa (co-chairs of the charitable giving committee), and all the incredible staff at Deacon Construction for dedicating their time and money in supporting Kinship House!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Kendra Little

Kinship House is blessed with the incredible volunteer support of community ranging from monthly clean-up of our facility to helping out at our events to providing much-need administrative support.

Kendra runs her own business. She is a database guru, helping folks with SQL server performance tuning – you can check her out here. She recently joined our volunteer team and is helping in our front office in her spare time!





  • How did you hear about Kinship House?  

Hands on Greater Portland website.

  • What motivated you to start volunteering with us?

I love that Kinship House helps and supports local kids and families.

  • What kind of volunteer assignments have you worked on at Kinship House?

I’ve worked on office management, helping fill snack bags, and making fun books so far.

  • What is a favorite childhood memory?

I have very vivid, happy memories of doing crafts and making art with my siblings and friends. 

  • What is your favorite thing to do in Oregon?
I love hiking and biking! Oregon is so beautiful.


If you are interested in volunteering for Kinship House, contact Bekka at 503-460-2796 and she will give you all the details.  For general information, check out our list of opportunities here.

— Bekka Zander, Volunteer Coordinator

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