State to honor Hilo couple at National Reunification Month luncheon

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Before 2007, life for Hilo resident Joyce-Lynn Ganon was shaky, to say the least.


Before 2007, life for Hilo resident Joyce-Lynn Ganon was shaky, to say the least.

Ganon found herself in the midst of family violence, her mental health was deteriorating and caring for her 2-year-old son was a challenge she couldn’t meet. She also was five months pregnant with a second child.

The turning point came when a concerned community member called Child Welfare Services, and her son was placed into foster care.

About 1,200 children are taken into foster care each year. CWS involvement is the wake-up call that forces many families to make changes.

Approximately 67 percent of children placed in foster care are reunified with their parents after services are completed. Five months after Ganon’s son was put into foster care, her daughter was born. With support from CWS, she participated in parenting classes and therapy. She thrived and successfully created a safe home environment for her children.

In 2009, Ganon’s mental health issues resurfaced and CWS again placed her children in foster care.

This was a huge blow, and Ganon said she felt like giving up. However, with support from her stepfather, Keith Simeona, other family members and professional service providers, Ganon found steady ground.

Vanagan Sanborn also helped Ganon turn her life around. The two met after Ganon’s children were taken into foster care. In 2011, they had a son together, who was not taken into foster care. By 2012, all three children were living in Ganon’s and Sanborn’s home.

CWS closed their case file, and Ganon and Sanborn are committed to maintaining a healthy family environment.


June is National Reunification Month. In Hawaii, the Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Services and its community partners are hosting a luncheon June 26 to honor the Ganon-Sanborn family.

For information about foster care or serving as a resource family, visit the Partners in Development website at