Ismert Family Story

Ismert Family Story

George and Traci Ismert married in 2009. After deciding to start a family, they conceived quickly and excitedly began to plan for a future as parents. Sadly, they lost that pregnancy and started the long, difficult journey of accepting the reality that parenthood was not going to happen the way they had hoped. 

In January 2017, they decided that if they couldn’t have their own kids, they wanted to work with youth who needed positive adult relationships. George and Traci began volunteering with Cornerstones of Care, playing with children in residential care while staff underwent shift changes. They later applied to become mentors and were matched with eight-year-old Reggie* and nine-year-old Natasha.

“Mentoring has been therapeutic in that it has taught us a lot about ourselves,” Traci explains. “It has challenged our patience while building our compassion and our desire to serve and contribute to our community. There is such a need for this type of connection with these kids as they are ultimately our neighbors and our future.” 

The Ismert’s mentoring relationship with the children has spanned for more than a year. Reggie successfully transitioned from residential care to a loving foster home, so George was matched in a new youth in need of this connection. Traci still mentors Natasha and has served as a witness to the ups and downs of her young life.

As mentors, George and Traci try their best to introduce their mentees to new experiences and opportunities. They've been to every park in Kansas City, as well as swimming pools, ponds, nature trails, sledding hills, gymnastics classes, KC youth ballet, movies and more. Chipotle has become the restaurant of choice during Traci’s outings, and it turns out that she and Natasha share a deep love for guacamole. During one visit, Traci brought a picnic basket with chopped garlic, onion, cilantro, salt and avocado, and together they made their own guacamole. It was a hit! Natasha still brings it up as one of her favorite days together. 

“We are both kids at heart, so we welcome the time to get outside and have fun like a kid,” Traci says. “We run and play, and generally let them lead with what they want to do. We just do our best to keep up and keep them safe!”

In 2017, George and Traci combined their love for our youth with their love for live music and started an event called “Bandister." This neighborhood lawn party fundraiser brings local music acts to their home on Bannister Road in Kansas City, along with food trucks and yard games to raise money for our children and families. This September marks the event's 3rd year.

We are so grateful George and Traci took what started as something tragic in their lives and turned it into something positive by investing in our youth. Their impact has already been tremendous, and they are just getting started!

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*Name has been changed to protect privacy