At our 2019 Portraits of Hope Gala, the Villa was fortunate to have Katelynn Jenkins share her story. Her trajectory has been impressive; check out the video!

When Katelynn became a student at the Villa’s Avalon School, she had just been discharged from a 6 month long hospitalization at the Children’s Psychiatric Center, for suicide attempts, anxiety, and depression. It was the darkest time of her life. A gifted writer, she had put into words what actually carrying out her suicide attempt would have been like. The work of prose she wrote was called After, and the following is an exerpt:

The hours after I killed myself were filled with family. My family was connected like a root system; we all came when disaster struck. As people gathered in my living room, I sat on my mom’s lap and wiped a tear away and watched the sunset behind her. I had forgotten how beautiful they truly were.


A supportive family and supportive professionals guided her through this dark period, to Villa of Hope.

When Katelynn began classes at the Avalon School, the darkness lifted. She excelled academically. “The thing that probably helped me evolve most quickly was the individualized setting and having Kerri, my social worker, available whenever things went awry,” says Katelynn. Along the way, she grew in her self-awareness, and
emotional management. “With just the coping skills I learned in the hospital, it wasn’t enough to have gotten me through high school. Kerri helped me figure out what I could use when I needed help. We discovered running, drawing, and writing, which became three of my main sources of coping. It seems kind of simple to just have those three things, but it made a world of difference to my mental health.”

Katelynn credits the staff at Avalon with where she is today. She finished up her freshman year there, and completed two more years at Avalon, graduating a year early.

She had always wanted to work abroad, and now she was on a path to pursue her dream. She was awarded a full scholarship to Roberts Wesleyan College, where she is pursuing an International Business degree. The Business Mission field is her goal for the future.

This year, Katelynn completed her international internship in Guatemala by co-managing a coffee shop her college started two years ago. She worked to employ unskilled young adults who were looking for job skills and opportunities, and lived in the mountains of Huehuetenango, immersed in the culture and the language.

Katelynn says: “I definitely couldn’t have succeeded without the skills I learned and programs I went through at Avalon.” It has been a journey from darkness to Hope.