Tag Archives: child poverty

Ensuring the children are able to stay in our sponsorship program from their earliest days in school until graduation is something that our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, works hard to do. With the public school system often times having three different schools — elementary, middle and high school — for children to attend, it’s crucial that we partner with each school to ensure sponsorship support is not interrupted — especially for children who need it the most.

Today we hear from a former sponsored child, Susan*, who grew up in our sponsorship program and attended Menifee High School in Kentucky, and writes to us to describe how her experience having a sponsor was formative to helping her become the adult she is today.

SUSAN’S STORY

Dear Children Incorporated,

Students hold many memories from their school days, and one memory that I hold dear is having the privilege of being a Children Incorporated student starting in middle school until I graduated in 2011.

 Like many children in Menifee, my family was not privileged. My family owned a small farm, and both my parents worked; however, having three growing children, money was always tight for our family. Shortly after I started the 6th grade, our Resource Center Coordinator sent home paperwork to my parents asking permission to allow me to participate in the Children Incorporated program.

“I truly say that being a Children Incorporated participant helped shape the person I am today.”

I was unaware of what all the Children Incorporated program entailed in the beginning but was very thankful for the opportunity that was given to me. Like many within my county, I grew up wearing hand-me-downs, that were far from perfect, but I knew my parents were doing their best to keep us kids clothed, and fed. Middle school years are hard years for any student, but it was tough for the children that come from poor families. Often, I was made fun of because my clothes were not like others; they may have had stains, or may have even been a little bit too big, but that’s all I had. Because of the comments I received, my self-confidence slowly began to dwindle. I was too proud of my parents to ever let them know what other kids were saying about me, and I knew that my parents loved me and were trying their very best to provide us with what we needed. 

 As I began my journey as a Children Incorporated student, I was given a sponsor that was truly an angel in disguise for me. I will forever remember my first gift from my sponsor; she gifted me several outfits that were really trending at the time. I was in complete shock when I received the gift she sent me. She also sent a letter telling me all about herself and what she enjoyed doing during her free time. This letter was the first of many conversations that took place between the two of us over several years. I was so excited to send my sponsor a letter back telling her how thankful I was for the gifts she had sent for just me. Through each letter we shared our experiences with each other, and even though I never met this person face to face, it seemed as if we had known each other our whole lives . As I continued through school, I had a total of three different sponsors. Each of my sponsors and I shared many experiences together even though we may have been hundreds of miles apart. 

Being a Children Incorporated child was a blessing for me, not just for the gifts I received but the self-confidence and encouragement it gave me throughout my school years. I truly say that being a Children Incorporated participant helped shape the person I am today. Many people may think of this program as a handout for poor families, but that is far from the truth. This program is much more than that; this is life changing for those that are eligible to be a part of such a wonderful program. I will forever be thankful for the wonderful memories that I hold from each of my sponsors, and there isn’t any way that would be enough to thank them for all that they have done for me over the years. These sponsors in the Children Incorporated program are truly a gift from God.

 Now as a soon to be 30-year-old, as of March 2024, I will finally be able to say that I am the first out of my immediate family to obtain a bachelor’s degree. I have made leaps and bounds since graduating even if it was in small steps. I currently work within our local elementary school and have the pleasure of interacting and making an impact on the next generation. Because of the Children Incorporated program, I strive daily to make a positive impact on each student I serve. I am living proof that underserved children can overcome any obstacle that is thrown their way with a little encouragement and love even if it comes from a stranger that they have never met. I will forever be thankful for the Children Incorporated program.

*Name changed to protect the individual.

***

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.

While visiting our affiliated sites in India this past fall, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, met with Chinna Ramavath, who is now Dr. Ramavath, thanks to support he received from our Higher Education Fund. Today, Luis recounts his time meeting with Chinna while in Guntur in October, in which Chinna caught him up on what his life is like now thanks to support from Children Incorporated.

“Chinna was one of the first enrolled in our program when he was eight years old. His father was a rice paddy worker, making about $50-60 dollars a month for the upkeep of the family, which was very difficult for him to support his family on,” said Luis.

Helping an entire village

Chinna is pictured filling out a medical report with some of his patients in India.

“Chinna and his family lived in St. Francis in Mellavagu, which is a small rural community, about 60 miles away from the city of Guntur. Chinna completed his primary and secondary school in the area. After that, and with the help Children Incorporated and his sponsor, Chinna was accepted in the School of Medicine near Guntur. Without this help, Chinna would not have had a chance to even finish primary and secondary school, let alone attend university. He graduated as a doctor and pharmacist, a newly implemented career option at the time in India. He then worked as a government doctor near Guntur, and of course, his salary was a bit larger than his father’s!”

“One time while visiting with Chinna, he asked me what he could do to give back the support he received from Children Incorporated to make his dreams a reality, and I replied, ‘please help your family, help yourself, and help your village.’ Chinna is now a doctor working for the Indian government near where he grew up, helping his own community. We are very proud of him and all his hard work!,” said Luis.

***

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

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

Dear Friends, 

Before joining the staff of Children Incorporated in 2003, I worked for another child sponsorship organization for over a decade. During that time, I occasionally heard about Children Incorporated from my then co-workers, but no one seemed to know a great deal about the organization founded by Jeanne Clarke Wood in 1964. Children Incorporated was often downplayed and written off as being rather insignificant in comparison to the much larger organization where I was then employed.

Then, in 2002, when my position with that other firm was unceremoniously eliminated, I found myself seeking new employment. I loved nonprofit work and wanted badly to remain in the child sponsorship arena; thus when a former employee of the larger organization told me that he was then working at Children Incorporated and made arrangements for me to interview there as well, I was elated. I met with Mrs. Wood, her successor as president, Marian Cummins, and a couple of other employees, and I was hired on the spot. What I immediately discovered is that those who had tried to make Children Incorporated appear insignificant were wrong. 

Within days of my hire, I knew what thousands of loyal sponsors had been saying for 39 years: that Children Incorporated was an organization with incredible integrity, far-reaching arms, and a huge amount of personality. As I watched and listened to my co-workers interact with sponsors, donors, and a vast network of volunteer coordinators, I came to understand why so many had labeled Children Incorporated as “an organization with heart.”

All these years later, I am still impressed by what Children Incorporated accomplishes, and my hope for our future is that we will keep on meeting needs as we have for the last six decades, and that we will be able to meet many more needs as they arise. I also hope that we will be able to reach many new people with information about our work. I hope to share the message that Children Incorporated is an honest and dependable organization that matters greatly to thousands and thousands of children and their families. Cheers to 60 years and thank you for all you do to make our work possible! 

From the heart,
Ronald H. Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer 

Clean Water and Healthy Living in Kentucky

Last fall, thanks to a wonderful proposal submitted by our volunteer coordinator Kelly at Salyersville Elementary School in Kentucky, we were able to provide water bottles to students as a part of a healthy living initiative started in the school district. Kelly shared that during the pandemic, many school districts either closed/shut down or greatly reduced the number of water fountains.

Cheers to 60 years and thank you for all you do to make our work possible!

This was originally done in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19. However, many of those districts have decided to remove the water fountains altogether and to replace them with water bottle stations. This move is seen as more hygienic, reducing possible COVID transmission, but also the common cold, flu, RSV, rotavirus, enterovirus (hand, foot and mouth disease) and more. Outbreaks cause sick children and high rates of absenteeism. Upon receiving the water bottles, Kelly wrote a note of thanks to Children Incorporated: 

“Thank you again for the special gift, which provided water bottles for all our students. The timing was perfect, as Friday was Eagle Spirit Day for the last day of Red Ribbon Week. The students, and myself, are so thankful and excited. I am also sending you some pictures taken as I passed out the bottles. Thanks so much for all you do!”

A Warm Partnership with Subaru 

In January, Children Incorporated was selected by another nonprofit organization, Operation Warm, to receive 100 new coats for our Richmond children, thanks to its partnership with Subaru of America. Our staff welcomed two employees, Rachel and Michael, from a local dealership, Hyman Bros. Subaru, who brought the coats themselves to our office to then be distributed to children at our Virginia affiliated schools! We are so grateful for the support!

Thank you, Operation Warm and Hyman Bros. Subaru! 

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER

written by Children Incorporated

We provide children living in poverty with education, hope and opportunity so they have the chance for a brighter future. Thanks to past and current supporters around the globe, we work with 225 affiliated sites in 20 countries to offer basic needs, emergency relief, and community support to thousands of children and their families each year.

» more of Children's stories

Michael and Sandra Ruddick are a family that I have had the pleasure of spending time with over the last 20 years, although their support of our organization far exceeds the time that I have been with Children Incorporated. I recently took some time to ask them some questions about how they became dedicated donors and what drives them to continue to be involved in our work so many years later.

RC: You started with Children Incorporated in November 1980. Do you recall how you initially found us?  

Sandra: I saw a newspaper clipping about Children Incorporated when I was 20 years old. Jeanne Clarke Wood was the founder and director at the time. The small not for profit organization appealed to me since the children in the program were not orphans but had families whose parents needed a little financial assistance to help with some basic necessities and also with educating their children.

RC: And what led you to contact us and begin sponsoring with us?

Sandra: It was a long time ago, but I just remember wanting to help a child in a small way that could make a difference. It impressed me that a sponsored child in the program received most of the donation and only a small portion was used for the organization’s administrative overhead.

RC: You currently sponsor a dozen children with us. What do you find most rewarding about child sponsorship?

Sandra: Michael and I, along with our own children and our aunt, were warmly welcomed when we visited one of our sponsored children in Talca. Our own children took up a collection of Beanie Babies in their high school. We brought the Beanie Babies as well as school supplies with us on our visit. The children in the home each took their turn choosing a Beanie Baby and their excitement was touching. Although we cannot visit each of our sponsored children, we can imagine each child and their family’s appreciation of our sponsorship. 

“It impressed me that a sponsored child in the program received most of the donation and only a small portion was used for the organization’s administrative overhead.”

– Sandra Ruddick

RC: You’ve sponsored many children with us over the decades. Are there any specific children you’ve aided who stand out in your memory? 

Sandra: A girl named Monica was the first child I sponsored in Chile. I was able to visit Monica at one time. I was traveling with a girlfriend, and we were visiting two additional friends who lived in the Santiago area where they were doing missionary work. Monica’s family was gracious enough to invite us to have lunch with them.

RC: You’ve also supported a number of our special projects. How have you decided which projects to support, and what has the experience been like for you?

Sandra: We have supported projects Children Incorporated has identified as those of greatest need with strong local partners to help ensure the funds are well invested — things such as helping build a school in Honduras, funding a building project at the Visayan Center in the Philippines, and contributing to feeding and warm clothing funds. It’s gratifying to know our donations have made a difference in the lives of many.

RC: If you were asked to describe Children Incorporated in just a couple of sentences, what would you say?

Sandra: Though Children Incorporated is a small organization, their dedicated staff does much to improve the lives and futures of countless children around the world.

RC: Thank you so much for your time and all that you do for children, families and communities we support! 

***

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

As I continued my trip to visit our affiliated sites in Martin County, Kentucky, I visited Eden Elementary School, where I had the chance to reconnect with our volunteer coordinator, Marlena, after a few years. She and her assistant, Kelli, welcomed me with open arms as I arrived to the resource center.

SEEING EDEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Marlena and Kelli are very appreciative of the Children Incorporated program, and I got the impression from them, as well as from the other Martin County coordinators, that our organization is able to help in ways other organizations are not able to. The resource center in Martin County really depends on Children Incorporated a great deal, and all of the coordinators say they would be lost without Children Incorporated support.

Hearing this made me that much more grateful for our sponsors and what they do for the children in our program.

During our meeting, Marlena shared that she is seeing an increase in severe poverty in her area. Many families live in literal shacks, and the number of household members in one home is sometimes astronomical. They recently learned of one child whose family consisted of sixteen people (both related and non-related), living in a small two-bedroom apartment. She also talked about the number of families living in dwellings without electricity and/or running water. Marlena stated that she thinks Martin County is about 20 years behind the rest of Kentucky in how people live. Hearing this made me that much more grateful for our sponsors and what they do for the children in our program.

Visiting Inez Elementary

Ron is pictured with one of our many sponsored children in Martin County, Kentucky.

I was warmly greeted by Andrea, the site coordinator at Inez Elementary School during my next school visit, along with a little girl named Sabrina.* Andrea brought Sabrina in at the start of our time together just so I could meet and speak with a Children Incorporated sponsored child. Sabrina was very sweet and talkative.

Andrea is very passionate about the children and families she serves, and she truly seems to care about their welfare. She stated that she believes the start of helping children to succeed is to make sure they have clean and comfortable places to sleep at home so that they may get proper rest. She said she could not even tell me the number of children who do not even have a pillow of their own. Andrea often provides beds, mattresses, pillows, and bedding to children in our sponsorship program, as well as others in the school who are in need. She said, “Ron, I can’t tell you the number of children that Children Incorporated has gotten up off of the floor!”

 Andrea talked about a program she started at Inez Elementary specifically for girls in fifth and sixth grades. She said she and others had noticed a lot of bullying and “mean girl” behavior among girls of this age, so they started a club that meets weekly to help break down barriers and teach the girls to be nicer to one another. The girls are encouraged to journal, and then during club meetings, they share their personal thoughts and insecurities. Andrea said that when the girls share openly like this, they reveal the ways they are all alike, and often it is a matter of the girls having low self-image and low self-value. She said that behaviors have improved a great deal since this program was begun.

As my trip came to an end, I found myself thinking just how impressed I was with all of these kind-hearted and warm people who truly care about the children they and we serve.

onward to Warfield Elementary

Next, I met with Amanda at Warfield Elementary School. She bragged quite a bit about the Planting Seeds of Love program that is implemented in all of the Martin County schools before she brought in one little girl for me to meet. Her name was Allison.* Allison was a friendly child and told me how much she has enjoyed the gardening program with her grandmother. She looks forward to spring when they can plant their garden together again.

All of the Martin County coordinators were enthusiastic about the Planting Seeds of Love program, and they all expressed extreme gratitude towards Children Incorporated sponsors and donors for help in funding that program. The coordinators said that parents and grandparents have been overwhelmingly supportive of planting and tending their own gardens and then canning their own vegetables for use in winter. Overall, the program has been a huge success, and the schools will all offer it again in the spring. The program not only provides food for these families, but it is also a big bonding opportunity for parents and children.

As my trip came to an end, I found myself thinking just how impressed I was with all of these kind-hearted and warm people who truly care about the children they and we serve.

*Names changed to protect the children. 

***

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

As she continues her visit to our affiliated sites in New Mexico, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, visits the Mariano Lake Community School where she meets with Barbara, our volunteer coordinator.

VISITING MARIANO LAKE

“During my visit, Barbara had just received Hope In Action Program funding based on a request where she told me she could use things for the dorm, primarily books and arts and craft supplies.”

“Mariano Lake Community School is located about 60 miles south-southwest of Lake Valley. Whereas the Lake Valley area is rocky and has become more arid, the Mariano Lake area has sandy soil and more vegetation. There are several types of grasses, as well as shrubby plants and bushes.”

“The eponymous lake is across the road, but is down a hilly area and is not readily visible from the school. At one time, people came from all over the area to fish, but now the lake is actually more of a marsh and is no longer suitable for fishing,” said Renée.

Barbara is pictured with one of our sponsored children at Mariano Lake Community School.

“This area was originally settled by the Navajo because of the abundant vegetation and because it is an ideal area to raise sheep, which is still the case hundreds of years later. Prized for their adaptability to the land and for their overall health and hardiness, Navajo-Churro sheep have a long history with both Navajo and Hispanic families in the region. The sheeps’ ancestors were originally from Spain and were quickly acquired through trades and raids by the Navajo.”

“Today, they are important to the Navajo culture and economy. The meat sustains many families, and the wool is used for weaving. Mariano Lake is no exception; like other communities, many families keep at least a few sheep,” said Renée.

“Some families also came to the area years ago to work in the uranium mine, which, unfortunately, was closed in 1982 and is now a highly contaminated site full of hazardous waste. As a result of the mine’s closure, there are few job opportunities in the area. Most adults travel to work low wage jobs in nearby Gallup or Crownpoint.”

Meeting with Barbara

“When I arrived at Mariano Lake Community School I was met by our wonderful, long-term volunteer coordinator, Barbara. We strolled around the school so I could get reacquainted with it since my previous visit. Then we went into the teachers’ lounge for our meeting. Barbara said that, like so many other schools, the pandemic caused disruptions,” explained Renée.

“Barbara was so excited and grateful about the most recent donation and was happily making her spending plans.”

“When the lockdown began in March 2020, the dorm was shut down along with the school. Children struggled with remote learning at home and many families experienced severe illness and death, which was further trauma for the children. Eventually, the school reopened to hybrid instruction, and then during the 2022-2023 school year, the school went back to fully in-person instruction, and masks were required. Masking is optional this school year, but many are choosing to continue, especially households with elders or people with chronic health conditions. Barbara kept on her mask throughout my visit, and so I did too.”

“Our coordinator told me that all the children who are enrolled at Mariano Lake have parents and grandparents who can scarcely make ends meet, and our sponsors’ support is deeply appreciated. During my visit, Barbara had just received Hope In Action Program funding based on a request where she told me she could use things for the dorm, primarily books and arts and craft supplies. Barbara was so excited and grateful about the most recent donation and was happily making her spending plans,” said Renée.

***

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 in that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD