Chenango Stories: Adopting A New Hometown
Published: February 13th, 2007
By: Jill Kraft

Chenango Stories: Adopting a new hometown

The smell of freshly-baked breads and coffee are the first things you may notice when entering the Coffee Connection, but what people may feel next is the welcoming tone set by the owner.

With her Boston accent and pleasant nature, Geri Barnes is no stranger to hard work, patience and devotion when it comes to brewing up coffee in her downtown shop or at home with her eight out of ten children.

Originally from Boston and then spending 20 years in San Diego, Barnes has seen her share of changes, and coming to Norwich she agrees was one of the best she could have ever made.

In San Diego, Barnes was a foster and adoptive parent trainer and co-founded the North San Diego County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association.

“Actually it started in my living room with four other couples, but we served over 170 families,” said Barnes.

The advocacy group would give support to families and help set up social groups, and later on Barnes helped to co-found a retail store designed to cater to the community but especially foster and adoptive families. She says these things were hard to leave, and they are both still active today.

During her 20 years in San Diego, Geri and her husband Fred adopted nine of their 10 children.

“We wanted more children, and for us, it was a way to have the big family we always wanted,” Barnes said.

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