Making A Difference
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Kari Adam
For children in foster care, a safe, encouraging relationship is extremely important. Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home provides professional foster care, counseling and residential care in homes on the property with live-in “home parents.” Adding individualized attention from a mentor is invaluable, giving children a positive example to model and reinforcing the guidance they receive from their home parents.
Kari Adam is one of those invaluable mentors. After serving with Big Brothers Big Sisters for a few years, she heard through her church, The Crossing, that there was going to be a service day at Coyote Hill; however, she couldn’t go. She later contacted Development Director Kari Salmon and offered to volunteer. Because she “didn’t know much about the place,” she went out there for a tour and to meet a few of the kids, which reinforced her desire to volunteer at Coyote Hill.
Because of her interest in the mentoring program, she was immediately paired with a 7-year-old girl living in one of the homes. Her mentorship had minimal expectations of visits once a month; anything beyond that was up to Kari. Her primary goal was to build a healthy, encouraging relationship with “Sarah,” and soon Kari was visiting her once a week. They spent time doing activities in the home as well as making trips to Columbia for visits to the mall, park and ice cream shop.
In the fall, Kari returned to her classes at the University of Missouri, where she was part of the soccer team. For Friday-evening games, Kari would drive to Coyote Hill, pick up Sarah after school and then head to the field. It’s safe to say Sarah was Kari’s biggest fan, and Kari was Sarah’s.
During soccer season, Kari maintained her weekly visits, and as soon as the season ended, she was driving to Coyote Hill twice a week, a round trip of 55 miles. As Kari would say, “I’m obsessed with that place. If I could be there every day, I would.”
Kari, 23, a native of Overland Park, Kan., is the daughter of Doug and Becky Adam and came to Columbia to attend MU. She has a younger brother, Jason, who, after high school graduation, was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and is now in the minor leagues. At MU, she majored in speech pathology, graduating last May, and is now pursuing her master’s in autism.
“For the past three years, I did home-based therapy with a couple of boys with autism. Just working with them made me realize that’s what I wanted to do,” she said. She plans to finish her master’s degree in December. Kari played all four years at MU on the women’s soccer team. “I really like running, being outside and being around kids,” she said.
Because Sarah was such a regular around the MU soccer team, the training staff and strength-and-conditioning staff quickly developed a love for Sarah as well. The direct link between Sarah and the staff ignited an interest for them to become more involved with Coyote Hill. For Christmas, Coyote Hill seeks sponsors for all of the children and homes. The MU training staff and strength staff sponsored every child in the Zimmer Home; Kari and her family then sponsored the House Wish List.
“It was quite incredible to see seven children’s wish lists completely sponsored all because of Kari’s mentorship with Sarah,” Salmon said. “She was quickly designated our ‘All Star Mentor.’ Her commitment to Sarah and Coyote Hill went above and beyond our expectations. Kari’s love for Coyote Hill has extended to her circle of friends, teammates and family. Coyote Hill now has mentors for two other children directly because of Kari.
“I often meet new prospective volunteers who know of Coyote Hill because of Kari,” Salmon continued. “She is more than a volunteer, more than a mentor — she’s an advocate for Coyote Hill and our mission against child abuse and neglect.”
Kari Adam’s goals for her mentoring experience were simple: befriend a young girl and be a positive influence. She has gone well beyond those goals and has inspired others to serve as well. Her love for Sarah and Coyote Hill motivates others to do the same.
Reach Irene Haskins at 573-815-1721 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.