KenCrest Ties Run Deep in This Family
Program Manager, Stephanie Joyner raised her children alongside the residents she supports, while living in a KenCrest Community Home.
By Sydney Kerelo
“When I say I went straight from the hospital into a KenCrest home, I mean it,” laughs Program Readiness Leader Cordiero Cotton.
Cotton and his two sisters were raised by their mother, Stephanie Joyner, a Program Manager at KenCrest who recently celebrated her 35th anniversary with the non-profit.
“When I started, KenCrest had a live-in program, and I took the position knowing I had children,” says Joyner. “I had a super nice supervisor who told me the house was set up so I could live there and bring my children with me.”
“It never felt like we were living in a company’s home; it was just our home,” adds Cotton. “It was like we were living with our extended family.”
At the time, Joyner and Cotton’s home housed multiple medically intensive individuals, considered one of the most challenging homes to staff. But Joyner didn’t let that stop her, she treated the residents like family, and they treated her the same.
Joyner would bring them on a family vacation to the Jersey shore every summer. According to Cotton, one of the guys they took care of had incredible accuracy, and every year on vacation, he would play the basketball shooting games on the boardwalk, and every time he threw the ball into the bucket, he would make it in and win a prize.
Cotton recalls the joy on his face every time he made it in. Those regular days spent on vacation stood out the most to Cotton from childhood.
“We did everything together,” says Joyner. “We had family dinners and went on vacation together; it was truly a family atmosphere.”
“It didn’t click until I got a little older, and then I began to recognize that this is mom’s job; these are the some of the things mom does for work,” laughs Cotton.
Cotton wasn’t the only one who blended the lines between work and family, so did the families of the people Joyner supported. She had a rapport with all four individuals’ families, and each would invite her and her family on vacation or dinner with them. One of the families lived in Blue Bell and would even invite Joyner and her children to their house to swim in their pool.
Sadly, all four residents passed away, but she now takes care of three others—Peggy, Kurt, and Sherry.
Joyner was first introduced to KenCrest at 17 when her nephew with intellectual disabilities began attending the North Broad Early Learning Center.
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“I was very young when I started,” says Joyner. “But as the years went on, I learned a lot of different aspects of the company, like different residents, behaviors, and intellectual disabilities.”
Alongside Joyner, Cotton and his sisters also learned a lot about the different situations and behaviors. Cotton spent two years volunteering at KenCrest before he became a full-time employee. Now, almost 15 years later, he is still working for KenCrest, making an impact on the people he supports lives.
“Growing up in a KenCrest home, I learned much more than any schooling could have taught me,” laughs Cotton. “I learned that people with disabilities emotions can change at the drop of a dime, and you need to be able to alter and adjust your way of caring for them rather than get upset at them.”
Cotton now uses those lessons and applies them to different programs to impact the organization from the inside. It was a natural transition for him to join KenCrest as an employee.
“My mother shaped me into who I am today,” says Cotton. “I don’t know where I would be without her or her former supervisor, Sondra Lewis, who got me interested in the other aspects of KenCrest and encouraged me to think outside the box when it comes to finding the best care for our individuals.”