A Tribute to John Kuntemeier, Tenacious Advocate for Children in St. Louis

The sole reason we are able to be innovative is because of the investments of forward-thinking, dedicated individuals that care about the welfare of our children. Today, we give tribute to John Kuntemeier, who passed away in February. John was a dedicated Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer who throughout his life was an advocate for many children in the St. Louis area. Working alongside our staff, John continued to go above and beyond to understand the child welfare system.

John understood children will always need a place to call home, and his legacy will forever be a testament and promise that every child deserves to grow up with a family. We are forever grateful to John and his loving family for their generosity to the Coalition’s Now & Forever Campaign. Please know, John continues to live on through every case closure, every connection to a family member, and every time a child finally finds their place to call home. Thank you.

Stories of John from Our Staff

Several years ago, John took it upon himself to research and locate a local STARS training. This is when he first found the Coalition. Connie and I were trainers for the foster parents at the time; he called and asked if he could attend. At the time, John was a CASA volunteer, appointed to a case that one of our Coalition staff members worked on. Initially, I questioned his motivation for attending because the class was on Saturday mornings for 9 weeks! His response was, “I am trying to do everything I can to understand the child welfare system, specifically, what resource parents were ’taught’ in STARS.” He was lovely to have in class and a great participant. His advocacy and dedication to the children of St. Louis will be deeply missed. – Nickie Steinhoff, Chief Strategy Officer

I worked with John on a 30 Days to Family® case when the children we were serving first entered care. I could tell immediately that he was taking his role as the children’s CASA very seriously.He would call me regularly to try to learn about the system and how it functioned. I told him that he could look into taking a foster parent training class, not to become a foster parent, but to better understand the system and serve the children. Next thing I knew, he was signed up for a STARS class at the Coalition. Throughout the case, I was able to watch him grow both as an advocate and as a person. The children he was serving changed him, and it was clear that he came to love them very deeply. I kept up with John and the children through the years and was always glad to know that he was still involved with them. He was a sweet and kind person. – Kelly Sullivan, Project SOAR

John was a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) on a case with two siblings I was recruiting for adoption. Mr. John took his role seriously. He worked effortlessly at building a solid relationship with the siblings and taking the time to get to know them individually. It was important to him that he learned their unique personalities, as well as understood their trauma. Mr. John was a straightforward and persistent man – useful qualities to have when you are advocating permanency for older teens. The older teens on John’s case had the challenges of multiple placements and being in foster care for a long period of time. Unfortunately, older teens are the most vulnerable population and the hardest to find adoptive families for. Mr. John made it his business to learn the foster care system. Because he understood the importance of Family Support Team Meetings, he participated in person until he was too ill to travel and later by phone. He was committed and dedicated and provided a great listening ear to the youth he served. It was Mr. John’s mission to encourage, support, and celebrate all the youth he served. He never wanted to miss any achieved milestones, including school events, graduations, and extracurricular activities. – Edna Green, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, Extreme Recruiter

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