It’s hard to believe that almost exactly 6 years ago we launched our On the Road blog series with this introduction:

“Today, Children Incorporated announced the launch of its inaugural blogging series — On the Road. Starting this week, the international child sponsorship organization will take readers on a real time, virtual journey to actual sites as far as Bolivia and Kenya and as close to home as Kentucky.”

We are getting close to announcing our new blog series, which we can’t wait to share with you. In the meantime, enjoy some of our best posts from On the Road!

Just as we planned, the On the Road series followed our work across the world, highlighting just how helpful our donors’ contributions were — and are — to children living in poverty. As stated by our CEO and President, Ron Carter:

“We rely on the support of sponsors and donors to provide the basic essentials to children in need around the globe. We want people to see the true impact of their support on the ground.”

Today, we want to share some of our favorite On the Road blogs as we gear up to make some changes to our blog series in the next few weeks. But don’t worry! We fully intend to continue to bring you stories of inspiration from our affiliated sites and volunteer coordinators around the world in the true fashion of On the Road, while our new series will allow us to expand on just how vast the work we do really is — all thanks to our supporters.

We are getting close to announcing our new blog series, which we can’t wait to share with you. In the meantime, enjoy some of our best posts from On the Road!

Paying It Forward: Life After Sponsorship

Aimee learned a lot of things too early in life as she watched her father nearly succumb to leukemia, his resulting painkiller addiction, and the financial and psychological quicksand her family struggled with as a result.

Our blog series has taken our supporters with us around the globe to show them how their donations are changing the lives of children in need.

Growing up in a small town in Eastern Kentucky, Aimee was surprised to find herself and her family staying with neighbors while her dad suffered in a nearby hospital. It seemed so sudden, the onset of his illness, and she remembers an earlier childhood of warmth and togetherness.

That wouldn’t be Aimee’s lot in life for several more years, unfortunately. She was in the sixth grade when her father was diagnosed, and her memories of his painful experience with a bone marrow transplant are still very acute. It was a troubling time for both Aimee and her younger sister, and she had a lot on her mind when the volunteer coordinator at her school told her she now had a Children Incorporated sponsor.

“I didn’t think much about it at the time,” she remembers. “Except that it was nice to get money at Christmastime, and it was nice having someone to write thank-you notes to. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I really recognized the importance of giving, and the importance of helping others in need.”

Never Forgetting Where She Came From

When Norah Quinn McCormick reached out to us in the new year about sponsoring a child, she told us a heartfelt story about how her grandmother first got involved with our work many years ago, largely due to the fact that she grew up in Appalachia and “never forgot where she came from.” Now, Norah wants to carry on the legacy of helping children in need.

To hear more about Norah’s story, our Director of Development, Shelley Callahan, hosted a virtual interview with Norah during which we found out about her, her grandmother, and how they both came to believe in the power of sponsorship.

SC: WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WORK?

NM: I live in Washington, D.C. and work as a fundraiser for the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland.

SC: HOW DID YOU FIRST FIND OUT ABOUT CHILDREN INCORPORATED?

NM: My Granny, Bonnie Hobbs Barron, sponsored children for as long as I can remember. I used to see pictures of sponsored children on her refrigerator. I also remember my mom sponsoring a child shortly after my Granny passed away.

SC: CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR GRANDMOTHER?

NM: My Granny, Bonnie Hobbs Barron, was born near Big Stone Gap in Wise County, Virginia in 1916. She grew up in a one-room log cabin without plumbing or electricity. As a child, she owned only one dress and one pair of shoes, and occasionally had to offer labor in exchange for food. Her father passed away when she was 6, and she often had to take care of her two younger siblings. She was orphaned by the age of 15, and unable to finish high school until the age of 21.

After high school, she worked as a housekeeper and caregiver for a family in Norton, until she married my grandfather in 1941. My grandfather benefitted from his participation in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), as well as through military service, and had a job opportunity in Washington, D.C. They relocated and eventually settled in Mount Rainier, Maryland, where they raised five children. My Granny lived to be 89 years old and passed away in 2006. However, she never forgot where she came from in Appalachia.

A Future for Children in a Kentucky Without Coal

Nobody’s better at wearing a brave face than a kid — whether they know it or not. If you drive around Eastern Kentucky, you’ll see children at school playing outside and laughing. At first glance, it’s not likely that you’ll truly understand the impact that increasing poverty is having on their families.

“We rely on the support of sponsors and donors to provide the basic essentials to children in need around the globe. We want people to see the true impact of their support on the ground.”

– Children Incorporated CEO and President Ron Carter

It’s coal country here, with mining dominating Kentucky’s industries since 1820. The Western Coal Fields, part of the Illinois basin, and the Eastern Coal Fields here in Appalachia, have been the historical centers of what was once an almost guaranteed career for able-bodied Kentuckians. For a long time now, coal has put clothes on the backs and shoes on the feet of generations of Kentucky residents.

Coal mining in Kentucky reached its peak in 1949. Since then, jobs have become more automated and mechanized, and with environmental regulations encouraging the use of cleaner fuels, the industry has been in decline. As a result, mines have closed. And when big coal companies pull out of a town, it’s nothing short of devastating for families.

Children Incorporated Volunteer Coordinator Terrie Simpkins, who works at Sheldon Clark High School in Martin County, Kentucky, says that the impact on the community has been shattering.

“Families lost their cars and then their homes. Our families have deep ties here, and they waited as long as they could before many gave up, and left for work in other states,” said Terrie.

As in any struggling economic system, less take-home pay means less to spend at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and other local businesses. Those stores close up shop, more jobs are lost, and daily life becomes a struggle. The Appalachian population is in decline, as former miners of Kentucky coal move elsewhere to seek better lives near the cleaner, low sulfur coal mines of Wyoming, the gas fields of North Dakota, or the auto assembly plants of Louisville, Kentucky or Marysville, Ohio.

Some of those who stay do so to care for aging parents; some feel they don’t have the education or training to compete for jobs in other areas of the country; some can’t afford to move; and some simply feel a strong connection to the land they have always known.

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How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

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