Sarah Koeppen of ‘The Hope Box’: “Find people that you trust to work with”

Find people that you trust to work with. Sometimes people will want to attach to your non-profit for their own personal gain, and not for yours. Make sure that the people you bring into the fold are ones that you trust, even if this means you stay small longer. Trustworthy people will help keep your […]

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Find people that you trust to work with. Sometimes people will want to attach to your non-profit for their own personal gain, and not for yours. Make sure that the people you bring into the fold are ones that you trust, even if this means you stay small longer. Trustworthy people will help keep your non-profit from facing unnecessary challenges especially early on.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Koeppen.

Sarah Koeppen is married and has five children. She is an author, public speaker, child advocate and expert on the issues of the abandonment of babies and works diligently to fight against sex trafficking of infants. Her journey began years ago when a young child was dropped off at her front door. She studied the law and eventually was able to secure sole custody of the child. Her experiences over the years have given her an expert level of knowledge on issues of abandonment and child services. Koeppen was instrumental in amending the Georgia Safe Haven Law (House Bill 391) in 2017. In 2020, Sarah published her first book, “Called To Hope,” that chronicles her journey through life and the starting of The Hope Box.

Thank you so much for doing this with us. Before we begin our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?

I am one of twelve kids — my parents were amazing people! I was raised in Colorado where I eventually met my husband, Joel. Together we have five kids, have had three failed adoptions and have spent nearly two decades mentoring couples and helping children.

Can you tell us the story behind why you decided to start your non nonprofit?

In 2009, our son now, Elijah, was dropped off on our doorstep. He was only three years old but had lived as much life as an average teenager or young adult. His mother was having a hard time caring for him and we were her answer. I began to study the laws in Colorado, and eventually became one of five to ever get sole custody of a non-blood relative. In time we were able to finalize his adoption, but the years of working through the adoption process along with time spent helping other families through crisis situations prepared me and molded me for The Hope Box far before the vision was ever before me. I saw a need that there were so many children (According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, ~78% of child abuse and neglect fatalities in 2018 were children ages 0–3) that are endangered in our country. Out of this need I started The Hope Box so that I could become part of fixing the problem our country is facing.

Can you describe how you or your organization aims to make a significant social impact?

The Hope Box has three major areas that aim to significantly impact our society: 1) Boarder babies — infants that are abandoned by their parents in the hospital after giving birth to them there; 2) Trafficking of infants — including sales for sexual exploitation and for harvesting of fetal tissue; 3) Safe haven — we train safe haven providers (fire, police, EMS and hospitals) so that best practices are followed during each abandonment situation. Our goal in each situation is to help women make the best decision, one that they can live with, for themselves and for their infants. We assess whether or not each woman can participate in parenting, if they have considered adoption and as a last resort safe haven. In offering these services to providers, and also to the women that find themselves in crisis, we are able to find infants safe places so that they are less likely to be discarded, therefore, decreasing the statistics of abuse, neglect and abandonment of our most at-risk children.

Without saying any names, can you share a story about an individual who was helped by your idea so far?

A birth mother knew she would be unable to care for her daughter. She knew she did not want her baby to go into the foster care system, as she had been a part of it as a child herself. Not sure what to do, she Googled and found The Hope Box. Our rescue team went to her in the hospital and explained her choices. She decided to do a private adoption, as she did not want to disclose as much detail as required in an adoption with an agency. We were able to connect her with a private attorney and then showed her a list of prospective parents who were home study approved. She chose a couple. This particular couple was the parents of three biological daughters who felt God had another child for them through adoption. They were beyond excited when I contacted them and asked if they would like to meet the biological mother of an infant in crisis. They immediately said yes, and within a short amount of time were at the hospital meeting what might become their daughter. This mother fell in love with the couple and knew they were the ones she wanted her daughter to be raised by. She was happy to know that her baby would have three big sisters to love her, play with her and teach her many things. The family felt an immediate connection with the mother and agreed for the adoption to be an open adoption. The family prayed with her asking the Lord to help her in the coming days and to bless her. Without The Hope Box, this mother could have made a different choice with a much different outcome!

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

There are many things that can be done. Our society has for many years ignored the injustices that are plaguing children 0–3. Many people can hardly stomach the things happening to these young children, and often would rather not hear their stories than to know these things are happening, even sometimes in their own backyard. Americans need to stop turning away from this knowledge, pretending that it doesn’t exist — we need to engage, learn and impact those around us to make a real difference. Further, politicians can pass laws that improve outcomes for our most vulnerable, ages three and under. Laws currently needing more attention are those surrounding safe haven and most importantly sex trafficking. The community can help address these issues by doing three things: educating themselves, informing others of the issues and then donating their money to support organizations like The Hope Box.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership, to me, is someone that sees an issue and comes up with a way to resolve it. Leaders listen, see the issues and they are unafraid of attacking that issue even if that means standing alone to fix the problem. Although leaders may have to stand alone, they ought to be able to work with others to accomplish their goals. When The Hope Box first saw the need for at-risk mothers needing help placing their infants in safe hands because they knew they were incapable of raising their child, we noticed that something needed to be done. We stepped into immediate action and began talking with Georgia State politicians about the issue and ways to alleviate the problem. Within one state session, The Hope Box was able to work with lawmakers to amend the outdated law that was restricting how these women could protect themselves and their infants. At times we had opposition, but throughout the process, we stood strong until the job was complete.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 things a person should know before they decide to start a non profit”. Please share a story or example for each.

There’s a lot of paperwork and details, don’t panic. Choosing to become a non-profit can seem overwhelming. Between trying to figure out exemption types and how you can operate a business within the confines of being a not-for-profit business. At times your head will be swimming, but don’t panic it will all work out.

To help with this, find people that have experience and ask lots and lots of questions. Connect with and network with other non-profits within your community, setting up lunches or coffee times to set down and ask lots of hard questions. Most people are more than willing to help out, you just have to be willing to ask!

Once you are up and running, look to find people that share your passion. People that share your passion will be more motivated and excited to promote your cause. Their passion will carry your message into their everyday lives with less effort. The more your message is presented the faster and farther your non-profit will grow.

Find people that you trust to work with. Sometimes people will want to attach to your non-profit for their own personal gain, and not for yours. Make sure that the people you bring into the fold are ones that you trust, even if this means you stay small longer. Trustworthy people will help keep your non-profit from facing unnecessary challenges especially early on.

Don’t give up. This may go without saying, but there will be days where nothing is going right, and others where there is no money, and yet others that you lose your motivation and passion seems void — especially in these moments, do not give up.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your non profit? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

The President of the United States, regardless of whom that might be. Mr. President, laws affecting children that were passed under previous administrations have endangered our young citizens. This is an issue that must be addressed immediately. We have to protect these children. Future generations depend on how well we care for these children — our future leaders in government, science, faith, economics and so much more depend on restoring the right treatment of our youth. Please stand with The Hope Box as we fight against these injustices.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson” Quote? How is that relevant to you in your life?

My grandmother used to always say to me, “long time in the tomb, so while alive zoom, zoom, zoom.” We have only a few years in the world to make a difference. If we fail to seize the opportunity our world will miss out on all the unique things that only youcan offer it.

How can our readers follow you online?

Social media presence: Facebook: @thehopeboxorg

Facebook (Sarah): @SarahKoeppenSpeaker

Twitter: @TheHopeBox

Instagram: @thehopeboxorg



LinkedIn (Sarah):

On our webpages at:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your mission.

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