Amara is proud to honor the late Louise Jones McKinney this month by naming the Beacon Hill location of the Amara Emergency Sanctuary program “Grandese’s Place.” Currently located in a home in the historic Seattle neighborhood, the Sanctuary provides a safe, nurturing place for children during their first several days in foster care. Specially trained Amara staff and volunteers welcome children 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, providing each child individualized attention and care; opportunities for rest, play and learning; and a visit to a healthcare provider for an initial health care screening. During this time, the child’s State social worker can focus on finding the best placement option for the child moving forward.
Louise Jones McKinney
Louise Jones McKinney was an extraordinary community leader. She was a very successful entrepreneur who owned several concession businesses at the Seattle-Tacoma airport. She was also a noted philanthropist and patron of the arts. Above all, though, McKinney was an educator. As a teacher, principal, and later Director of Academic Achievement for Seattle Public Schools, McKinney’s life’s work proved her dedication to education, and overall advocacy for youth—especially African-American youth. McKinney spearheaded the establishment of the Mount Zion Baptist Church Scholarship ministry and co-chaired the Mount Zion Scholarship Endowment Fund, creating more opportunities for disadvantaged youth to access quality education. She also served as an advisor to the board at the Mount Zion Pre-School and Kindergarten and Ethnic School, later named the Louise Jones McKinney Learning Center.
Louise Jones McKinney worked alongside her husband, national Civil Rights and social justice leader, the Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney of Mount Zion Baptist Church. Together they advocated for the advancement of the African-American community and equality in education, housing, employment, and voting rights.
“We are honored to celebrate Louise McKinney’s powerful and positive influence in our community. Louise was a charter member of Amara’s Advisory Council, and she inspired us to keep children at the center of our work and our world,” said Amara Executive Director, John Morse.
McKinney loved family above all else: her husband, Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney; her daughters, Lora-Ellen McKinney and Rhoda McKinney-Jones; her son-in-law Sam H. Jones, Jr.; and her grandson, Kent McKinney Jones. Kent coined the name “Grandese” for his Grandmother Louise, and the name stuck. Rhoda said of her mother, “There was nothing she would not do for Kent and she was the center of his joy.”
Louise was known for her commitment to children and did her best to help them thrive in school and in their community. When she was the principal of the Martin Luther King Jr. School, she announced, “No child will fail here,” and established an environment of safety, learning, and excellence.
About the Amara Emergency Sanctuary Program
Each year, more than 700 King County children are removed from their homes by Child Protective Services. Launched in December of 2014, the Amara Emergency Sanctuary program has already welcomed more than 100 of our community’s children entering foster care. According to Amara’s Executive Director, John Morse, “Louise was always pushing us to do more for the children we serve. Grandese’s Place is a sanctuary for children to feel safe, to be cared for, and to just be kids for a time. Those first few days can be so pivotal. Through this program we believe we can contribute to more positive outcomes for the kids and families impacted by foster care.”
Founded in 1921, Amara is a community based nonprofit dedicated to serving children in foster care. Amara works to recruit, train, and support foster and adoptive families, and provides compassionate direct care to kids entering foster care for the first time through the Amara Emergency Sanctuary program.