Taking Care of Our Communities: Koinonia Homes for Teens
When Justin Studebaker, a Personal Stylist at our Roseville Galleria store in California, first learned about Koinonia Homes for Teens, he knew he wanted to help. Focused on supporting teens who are struggling with alcohol dependency, the organization has been providing an essential service in the Sacramento community since 1982. Their current programs include Therapeutic Foster Care, Adoption, Day Treatment, Medically Fragile, Residential Group Homes for chemically dependent adolescents and a County Crisis Resolution Center.
After hearing the stories of these youths, it only seemed logical for Justin to use his 10 years of men’s styling experience with Nordstrom to contribute to and support the Koinonia Homes for Teens’ cause. “I got started because I felt so much gratitude for my life and my incredibly supportive family,” Justin said. “Hearing how these foster care kids have no real family support, how they are expected to be on their own at age 18 and succeed in life—I know I couldn’t do what they were trying to do.”
From court hearings to job interviews, teens in this organization attend a variety of events where looking their best is important. As a Personal Stylist, Justin has experienced firsthand the positive effects a well-coordinated outfit can have on a person’s self-esteem and sense of empowerment. Initially, Justin created and led a style workshop for teens staying at the center. He also created a style workbook to help them independently prepare for important occasions—but he didn’t stop there.
In May of 2016, Justin chaired a style event for Koinonia as part of Big Day of Giving, an annual fundraising event in the Sacramento area. The effort raised over $7,000 and resulted in about 10 rolling racks of clothing donations for the teens. By the fall of 2016, seven more Nordstrom employees had joined Justin for another workshop, and six more Koinonia graduating teens went on shopping sprees thanks to the fundraising and community support.
“The work we do with Koinonia Homes for Teens could not be done without the integral contribution of several Nordstrom employees,” said Justin. “Their support allows us to focus on what is next for Koinonia’s Dress for Success program.” Part of those next steps is developing partnerships with local businesses within the community to share their advice on different careers. In fact, several of Justin’s personal Nordstrom customers have already signed up to speak. “It is a great cause, truly making a difference in the local community,” he said of Koinonia. “Luckily, I figured out a way to use my 10 years in men’s styling to make a difference too.”
"It's a great cause, truly making a difference in the local community. Luckily, I figured out a way to use my 10 years in men's styling to make a difference too."
— Justin Studebaker, Personal Stylist at Roseville Galleria
“Justin is bringing something new to the table in every class. His passion for dressing properly for each occasion is contagious and has truly inspired our students to be creative with their own personal style. The impact of Justin Studebaker’s involvement with these teens is phenomenal,” said Camilla Ryland, one of the group home administrators. “We owe him so much. He has given our teens clothing, time and an incredible sense of success.”
For Justin, supporting the youth at Koinonia is fulfilling. “It gives me purpose and has made me better at what I do at Nordstrom,” he shared. “Spending time creating the style workbook I use at workshops motivates me to improve my knowledge of men’s clothing. It opened up deeper sharing with my customers, where we discussed the causes and charities they are passionate about too. It moved many of my customers and I past the superficial discussions into really knowing who they were and what mattered to them in their life.”
He also hopes to inspire fellow Nordstrom employees to make a difference in their communities, and to be a role model for the youth that rely on Koinonia’s essential services.
To learn more, check out Justin’s story in our Nordstrom Cares video.