As you know, COVID-19 has disrupted family events worldwide, from births and weddings, and sadly to funerals.
School closures have also disrupted activities for the Class of 2020. The high school students in our program were looking forward to attending senior prom, having their friends sign their yearbooks, saying goodbye to their teachers, and finally getting to walking across a stage in an auditorium packed with family and getting a handshake from the principal and their high school diploma.
“Your support has helped me in so many ways — with clothes, books, school trips, and presents for my birthday and Christmas.”
Needless to say, they are tremendously disappointed, but they are also keeping things in perspective. In many cases, coping with poverty and extra responsibilities has made many of them mature beyond their years, and they have been looking at all their ways their glasses are half full, not half empty.
A different graduation for Landon
Meet Landon.* Landon is in 12th grade. He attends Hazard High School in Kentucky. Landon lives with his single mother, a brother, and two sisters. The mom has a low-wage job and has really struggled. Our sponsorship program has meant the world to her, and both she and Landon are very grateful.
Since the students were sheltering at home through the end of this school year, our volunteer coordinator, Helen, telephoned the students and dictated letters for their sponsors. Landon said:
“Dear Sponsor, I want to thank you for all the support you have given me. I am excited to be graduating from high school, even though it’s not how I thought it would be. After graduation, I will be moving to Louisville, Kentucky. I want to be an airplane mechanic, and there is a college program with UPS to help pay the tuition. After I finish, I will be working for UPS and will have a good job.
Your support has helped me in so many ways — with clothes, books, school trips, and presents for my birthday and Christmas.
I will miss my school, principal, teachers, and Ms. Helen so much. All of you helped me to learn and to succeed.
Again, thank you. What you did was important to me, and I love you.”
*Name changed to protect the child.
ABOUT HAZARD HIGH SCHOOL
Nestled along the Kentucky River’s North Fork amid the majestic Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky, the town of Hazard (with a population of a little less than 5,000) serves as the county seat of Perry County. Both town and county are named in honor of American naval hero Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Until the arrival of the railroad in 1912, the town’s idyllic yet remote and forbidding setting had long isolated it from the outside world. With this change, the town enjoyed an economic boom, which, unfortunately, the Great Depression expunged just as quickly.
“I will miss my school, principal, teachers, and Ms. Helen so much. ALL of you helped me to learn and to succeed.”
Moreover, since the decline of the coal industry in the early 1900s, unemployment in the area has skyrocketed, contributing to a rapid increase in drug use, crime, and alcoholism. Many residents here have no choice but to rely upon government assistance to meet day-to-day needs. Indeed, in July 1999, Hazard was the first stop on President Bill Clinton’s tour of poverty-stricken communities that had failed to share in the economic boom of the 1990s. Amid this crippling poverty, however, Hazard High School serves as a beacon of hope. With ten percent of its student population struggling daily with homelessness, the school offers students a safe haven, a welcome escape from the despair of poverty, complete with warm meals, a caring staff, and a well-rounded education — the key to breaking the chain of poverty and the opportunity to rise above the difficult circumstances from which they come.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?
You can sponsor a child in Kentucky 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.