Synergy Family Services continues to grow as it serves area families in needMar 09, 2023 11:13AM ● By Carl Fauver
Mandi Makoni opened Synergy Family Services in 2019 at her home. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
The list of challenges Kearns High School graduate Mandi Makoni has endured – en route to establishing her successful counseling and personal support business, Synergy Family Services – is enough to overwhelm many people. Born to a young mother… becoming one herself… and launching her business just a year before the 2020 pandemic hit, are just the tip of the iceberg.
Yet somehow, Makoni’s operation continues to grow as she works to help the kinds of challenged people she once was herself.
“I was born in San Diego in 1987 and put into the foster care system, not knowing who my birth parents were,” Makoni explained. “Luckily, I was adopted by very loving parents. But I still struggled through my adolescence, not knowing who my biological parents were. Working through those challenges had a lot to do with where I am now. I enjoy helping other people who face similar challenges.”
Mandi’s adoptive father and mother, Larry and Dixie, moved the family from Southern California to Utah when she was about 8 years old, after Larry retired from the Marine Corps. But challenges followed her.
“I struggled with mental health, not feeling like I belonged anywhere,” Makoni added. “I love my adoptive parents. They ARE my parents. But they are white, while I have Italian and several other ethnicities in my background. Growing up, I didn’t even know what my race was. That also created challenges. I just wanted to better understand who I was and where I fit in.”
Makoni gave birth to the first of her two daughters while she was a Kearns High School sophomore. However, that did not deter her from graduating from the school in 2005. It was during this time when Makoni’s resolve to try to help others facing similar life challenges took root.
While earning bachelor and master’s degrees through Murray-based Eagle Gate College, Makoni worked through a variety of organizations to provide day treatment services from 2011 through 2018. That led to her opening Synergy Family Services (5255 S. 4015 West Suite 200) in early 2019.
“I worked out of my home for the first year or so and only served two or three people in 2019,” Makoni said. “Then, after that first year, the pandemic hit. That slowed everything down even more. I served about 12 clients in 2020.”
Synergy Family Services provides counseling and group home services. Most of the care and treatment is funded through state agencies, including the divisions of Child and Family Services and Services for People with Disabilities.
Liz Belt was Mandi’s first SFS employee and now operates one of the agency’s group homes in West Jordan.
“I hired on with Mandi in February 2021 and have operated this group home since July of that year,” Belt explained. “I have three girls in the home, ages 15 to 22. Synergy works with clients who have autism, behavioral issues and those who are intellectually delayed.”
At press time, Makoni was considering expanding her number of group homes. Since enduring the worst of the pandemic, Synergy Family Services has grown.
“To date, we have served 64 clients since opening four years ago,” she concluded. “That is not a huge number compared to other agencies – and I am okay with that. We pride ourselves in quality over quantity. We are a family here, not just a business. Once you are a part of Synergy, you are forever.”
For more information about the services SFS provides – including details on how to become a foster parent – visit HYPERLINK "https://www.synergyfamilyut.org/home" synergyfamilyut.org. You can also email HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected] or call 801-856-6081.