February can be considered Love Month, and it was an honor for Sheen Magazine to speak with Dr. Kimberly Jahna. She is full of love for the community and CEO of Kindred Hearts.

Please introduce our Sheen Family to Dr. Kimberly Janha.
I am the daughter of Elbert and Earline, the Granddaughter of Maynard and Willie Mae, Hubbard (wife, Alice) and Julia Mae; the great-granddaughter of William and Mary; and, Ivory and Florence. My brothers call me Black, Kim, or Sis. My nieces and nephews call me Auntie/Ma. My most treasured name to answer to is Mum or Ma, by my bonus daughter Abie and my son, Ebrima. I offer this information to pay homage to my strong foundation! All in our own right are natural servants. Stories and personal memories of the lives of my grandparents, reflections of the teachings of my parents, and the responsibility of being a positive influence to the ones coming behind me, keep me humbled and remind me of the charge I have to be accountable.
I am called to minister, and while not ordained through an established religious organization, I have known my calling to serve through the teachings of Jesus Christ, since the age of thirteen. So, it’s not strange to me to find myself in the positions I am in socially and professionally. I GET TO SERVE, the constituents of Richland County, South Carolina, through my appointment as the Executive Director for the Richland County Legislative Delegation and Veterans Affairs Office. I am humbled to lead the mission to ensure those dear hearts who accept the responsibility to raise their kin’s children, as the Co-Founder/CEO of Kindred Hearts SC. I am offered the opportunity to share my belief in lifelong learning as a member of the Adjunct Faculty at Columbia International University. Imperative to my success in these arenas is the encounters with other servants that I am honored to serve with on the South Carolina Citizen Review Midlands Panel, SC Kinship Care Advisory Council, SC DSS Kinship Care Advisory Panel, and the collaborative partnerships developed to serve throughout South Carolina and through human service national contacts.
I am a natural encourager, well-loved individual, who believes that through an active village, we can all thrive!
Sheen Magazine recently attended the 1st Annual Kindred Hearts Gala, and it was an incredible experience.
Could you please share with us what inspired you to start Kindred Hearts? Also, have you ever felt like giving up, thinking that running a nonprofit organization might be too much to handle?
I started Kindred Hearts South Carolina, from the idea of (then) four members of the South Carolina Citizen Review Panel (SCCRP). It would be remiss of me not to mention their names; Kayla Mallett Bacote, Lee Patterson, and Dr. Brooke Ellis Wymer. We devised a service initiative to hear from caregivers and provide valuable resources and support. After realizing the need for support for families, with formal and informal placements, exceeding the scope of the CRP’s policy review and public outreach obligations; Kayla Mallett Bacote and I, sought to create a more robust and comprehensive plan to better serve kinship communities. This is why I carry the title as Co-Founder, to give credit to the intellectual property of these ladies.
Kindred Hearts isn’t just an initiative based on the idea or fact that there is a huge kinship population or that there is a need for resources to ensure the caregivers and the families are able to maintain a safe, healthy and thriving living environment. It is born from my foundation, I come from a place where kinship care was/is a part of my family structure. My older two brothers John (deceased Nov 2020) and Arthur are my paternal first cousins was raised by my grandmother Julia; with the support of my parents and our active village; uncles on my maternal and paternal sides are actually cousins; and, I can name friends who were raised by their grandparents, aunts/uncles or family friends. So, it wasn’t strange to me when life called for me to assist in the care of my two nieces and three nephews at the death of their mother. Mrs. Gillia Robinson Bazemore, is the maternal grandmother of Alexius, Laquan, Kaywhon, Akealion and Nikayla. These babies lost their mother in a car accident, in Feb. 2003. They were 7, 6, 5, 4 years and three months old. Ms. Gillia, affectionately called “Ms. Mott”, didn’t want the children to be separated, so after the funeral in our home county, Marlboro, SC, she brought them back to Columbia to reside with her. From the start, I served as her support for the needs of the children. I guess I kinda threw myself in the loop. Again, this was normal to me. I had no second thoughts.
Anything that we didn’t know we sought help through our village and other community resources. So, this experience afforded us the realization of the benefit of working together, not being afraid to assess, and acknowledge the need for help and asking for it. This is the mindset in which we developed and managed our programs at Kindred Hearts. There is a growing need for kinship caregivers to have continuous support. This can only be done through awareness and a community of service providers who are intentional in making certain that persons who have obligated themselves to the safety and well-being of children in our community are well-supported.
So, at any point did I ever feel like giving up? I can’t say that I have. I have had many times that I had to assess and regroup. I had to push through disappointments, conflicts and the hard task of self-evaluation. I had to look at the challenges that were before me and start anew on conquering them, but I have never thought to give up on this mission! Ensuring the caregiver is good so the children in their care are good, is a concept that is strength within itself. I have support through my board and other community organizations that are ensuring they are intentional in their service to this population. I just need the entire community to believe that we have an obligation to serve effectively in our identified capacities. I need us to choose Community over Chaos!

I know that you are truly grateful for the support of your family and friends. 

Oh, my Good God!!! Where would I be without the support of my family and friends? I come from a place where I have been affirmed on a daily basis. I mean even now I get daily encouragement from my mothers (my bio-mother and her sisters). My brothers often ask how things are going with the varied tasks in my life and what can they do. My son is my bodyguard and my daily hype-man, and he’s only 10. Other family members who will back me up on almost anything and call me out when I seem to act the opposite of what I preach. And, then there are my sissies, four of my friends (since kindergarten) who keep me grounded.
In addition to my foundational support. I have made connections and acquired brothers and sisters throughout every life stage. These connections are experts in their own right. I mean, I am blessed to be connected with caterers, business owners, dedicated servants who are elected officials and the nucleus of our community, the servants in the trenches, who understand our mission and belief in the need for continuous collaboration. So, a community is what I know. I’m perplexed when community isn’t showing up the way we should, or the way I am used too. I am learning to steer away from absolutes, because there isn’t just one way to do anything. So, I know that not everyone has the same foundation that I share about. However, I do know that the “support” has been seen or experienced in some form. So, through this concept, I believe that if we all choose to live a life of togetherness for the betterment of all, then we will be able to see more of the better.
I have to ask what is your motivation?
Humm, I have several motivators. One is my foundation of servanthood. My parents and foreparents all were/are dedicated servants in our community. Their roles included farming, pastoring, nursing, public health, criminal justice, education, child-welfare and community development. We seemed to always be in the mix to assist with or overcome a challenge faced in my hometown. So, I’m always looking for ways to be of good service.
Another motivator is being challenged. I can’t stand for things to beat me. I mean, if I don’t know I am going to find out. I mean I ain’t too obnoxious with it, I guess I’ll say I love to learn about things that interest me, whether it’s just for personal kicks or needed for professional development. I’m gonna find out what I want to know.
A final motivator is the kinship caregivers that I get to meet. I mean, I get to serve grandparents on fixed incomes, aunts/uncles who are raising their own children, older siblings who are trying to figure out their life paths, and even people who don’t share the same blood; but, through a big heart, have chosen to accept responsibility for ensuring children who, for some reason, aren’t able to be in the care of their biological parents. These persons, despite the lack of or barriers to access to resources, are giving their all to make sure these children thrive. Support for these families will forever be a need, and because I am determined to beat a challenge, I am inspired to build and sustain an intentional collaborative community of service.
How do you emotionally handle what you do?
 Most of us who serve do so from the prompting of an emotion. It would be very detrimental to my well-being to address our social ills solely through my human emotions. So, it is only by the grace of God, that I move in this work! Daily affirmations, gospel/inspirational music, inspirational speakers, mindfulness of my foundational spiritual beliefs instilled through my family and home church Ebenezer United Methodist Church, and nurtured through my new church family Rehoboth Baptist Church, is the combination that makes up my coping method.
I am at a place where I am choosing to believe that God “IS!” So, I practice feeling what I feel and managing the emotions effectively. God will work in my truths and I can move authentically from that space.
For our Sheen Magazine readers can you tell them what programs Kindred Hearts offer?
KHSC’s vision is to be accessible to all kinship care families in South Carolina. Currently, kinship care families are served in Chesterfield, Clarendon, Dorchester, Laurens, Marlboro and Richland/Lexington Counties. Our programs are compiled under the term Kinship Circles. They are conducted in three phases: listening, learning, and advocacy.
During the listening phase, Kinship Circles or support groups are facilitated. Kinship Circles are co-created spaces for caregivers to candidly share their experiences, needs, and recommendations for improved community awareness/support.
The second phase is the learning circles. In response to the resources and informational needs identified in the listening sessions, speakers and trainers are invited to provide caregivers with information and resources relevant to their experiences.
Phase three is the advocacy phase, which features advocate training for kinship caregivers, the development and maintenance of a volunteer case management process, and an internship component. Through community education and advocate training, we seek to make the connection between kinship caregiver circles and the larger community.
If you can offer any encouragement to someone who may have a vision they are considering?
Study to show yourself approved (Timothy 2:15). Whatever your vision, learn of that thing. Be able to articulate your why. Understand that lasting success will only be, when you build a collaborative team that can support the effective activities of the mission. Seek God First and All things will be added.
If it scares you, acknowledge that fear and let it motivate you to see the vision through. You Got This!
How can you be reached or contacted for more info, donations, or Volunteers?
Contacted for Donations/Volunteers:
Zelle: kindredheartssc@
Photo Credit from Gala :Vickie Lovett Pretty Pictures PHOTOGRAPH