*Note: This blog was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much has changed regarding our sponsored children’s learning experience in the past months, our On the Road stories remain relevant in regards to our volunteer coordinator’s work and the impact of sponsorship on children in our program thanks to our sponsors. We are pleased to continue to share stories with you about our work.


The remote community of Pinon is located amid the incredible desert beauty of northern Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation, 160 miles from the Grand Canyon. The Reservation comprises more than 27,000 square miles of spectacular but inhospitable countryside, extending into both Utah and New Mexico.

For many children from impoverished households, the Pinon Community School offers them the opportunity to receive a quality education while also receiving positive reinforcements from staff for good behavior.

Despite its massive scale and rich cultural heritage, residents of the Reservation are desperately poor. There is virtually no employment. Broken homes, alcoholism, and inadequate food are constant manifestations of poverty.

A small and desolate community

According to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, “the community and its surrounding area consist of just over 1,000 people, and it is extremely poor. The child poverty rate is 54.7%. There is a small health center managed by the Indian Health Service, a small grocery store, and a scattering of houses and very little else.”

For many children from impoverished households in Pinon, our affiliated project, the Pinon Community School, offers them the opportunity to receive a quality education while also receiving positive reinforcements from staff for good behavior — other than receiving only punishments for bad behavior.

Seeing our HIA projects firsthand

While visiting the Pinon Community School last year, Renée met with Carol, our volunteer coordinator, who took her on a tour of the building and grounds.

“I was very pleased to see the reading pergola Children Incorporated had made possible last school year through our Hope In Action Fund. Carol told me they have cushions for the benches that are brought inside every evening and then brought outside each morning. The pergola gets a lot of use, and the children and teachers love it,” said Renée.

Our volunteer coordinator at Pinon, Carol, shows Renée the school garden.

Carol also showed Renée the school garden that was built, again, thanks to a donation to Pinon from our Hope In Action Fund. Carol pointed out corn stalks left behind from the most recent harvests that will eventually be turned under to nourish the soil before a new crop is planted. A hose had been brought over to water some of the herbs in the garden that were going strong.

Warrior Bucks for Kids

After taking a tour of the school, Carol and Renée met with Ms. Largo, the school’s principal, to discuss the Children Incorporated sponsorship program and what other needs the school might have that our organization could look into supporting.

“Ms. Largo told me that her focus outside of providing basic needs for the children is to build up the school’s ‘Positive Behavior Initiative’ program. She said so many of the children come from high-risk homes and some act-out in class. In replacement of a climate of punishment, she has instituted an environment of positive rewards,” explained Renée.

“Instead of always handing out punishments for poor behavior, students may earn ‘Warrior Bucks’ for various positive actions such as completing homework, improved attendance, and being kind and helpful to teachers or other students. The ‘bucks’ may be redeemed for small things such as snacks, hygiene items, and even Post It Notes, which are very popular with the students.”



You can sponsor a child in Arizona in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.


written by Shelley Callahan

Shelley is the Director of Development for Children Incorporated. She is also the lead social correspondent, regularly contributing insights through the Stories of Hope blog series. Sign up for Stories of Hope to receive weekly email updates about how your donations are changing the lives of children in need.

» more of Shelley's stories