Tag Archives: children

Removing Barriers in Eastern Kentucky

As we continue to provide support to our affiliated projects around the world amidst COVID-19, we are hearing from our volunteer coordinators about how valuable our support is at this time. Today we hear from Sandy at Bevins Elementary School in Kentucky about how donations from our donors are helping children in her community.

Removing barriers is what Children Incorporated does best.

“Dear Children Incorporated,

The mission of the Family Resources and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) is to remove any barriers that prevent the education and wellbeing of our students. Children Incorporated, along with its many sponsors,  has made this job is made so much easier. Removing barriers is what Children Incorporated does best. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus it has been a very different semester, but with Children Incorporated’s help, we have successfully supplied resources to meet our families’ needs.

Grandparents as parents

Hand sanitizer and hygiene kits are a big helping in keeping children safe and healthy.

This year, with the help of Children Incorprated Hope in Action funds, the Pike County Title I program, and a variety of different organizations, we have been able to continue to facilitate a Grandparents as Parents support group. The grandparents workshops have continued to increase in participation this year.  The program has been such a wonderful success! The grandparents were given much needed educational resources, counseling, and a lot of extra support in different areas. They were served refreshments and received hygiene items, basic need supplies, and door prizes. They feel they are so much more prepared to help educate their grandchildren thanks to this wonderful program! I can’t express enough gratitude for the help! We hope to continue to provide this wonderful program for our grandparents who have been placed in the role of parenting their grandchildren.

Thanks to the Hope in Action program and help from Children Incorporated and other community partners, we were able to facilitate our first Annual Community Baby Shower, hosted by the Belfry area FRYSC. There were different agencies on hand to give new expecting parents resources and information to help better prepare them for their new baby. Food was served, and door prizes and baby supplies were given to the expecting parents in attendance. This was a wonderful resource for the families, and we had good attendance.

Readifest and Back to School bash

Another wonderful program that wouldn’t be possible with Children Incorporated is our annual Readifest also known as our Back to School Bash.  Children Incorporated has always helped with this project. Students every year are given school supplies, hygiene products, and have access to a host of different organizations that will help them to be better prepared for the new upcoming school year. Many students would not have the much-needed resources to exceed in school without this program.

This year, due to the COVID-19 virus, we were given additional Hope In Action funds to help purchase hygiene products and items to help protect our families and students from this terrible virus.

This year, we were so pleased to once again receive Hope In Action Funds to facilitate a wonderful Reading Program during Read Across America Week. Well-known author Leigh Anne Florence and her dogs, Chloe and Woody, were able to visit our school. Many families have little or no resources to provide adequate reading materials for the students. Parents sometimes feel discouraged by the lack of self-confidence and motivational skills needed to help their children succeed. Through this program, parents and children were brought together to read and share an evening of fun-filled opportunities to become more engaged in their children’s academic needs. Writing classes were provided to third through fifth graders. These classes will play an important role in encouraging and preparing them for state assessment testing and real-world connections.

This year, due to the COVID-19 virus, we were given additional Hope In Action funds to help purchase hygiene products and items to help protect our families and students from this terrible virus.  Bevins FRC has purchased hand sanitizer and COVID-19 safety prevention kits. The kits include safety instruction for proper prevention techniques, face masks, and sanitizer. 

Throughout the school year, many of our students would not have many of the resources that they need to be successful in school if it wasn’t for Children Incorporated. Thanks to Children Incorporated, these students can excel in their education along with their classmates.

It has been a joy to work another school year with such wonderful staff and this amazing organization, Children Incorporated.

Thank you all and I look forward to working with you again this next school year!



Reflecting on High School at Graduation

As you know, Covid-19 has disrupted family events worldwide, from births and weddings, and sadly to funerals.

School closures in March have also disrupted graduations — all the special activities for the Class of 2020. The high school students on our program were looking forward to attending senior prom, having their friends sign their yearbooks, saying goodbye to their teachers, and finally 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

For today, 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.

Andrew has benefited greatly from his sponsor during his high school years.

Since the students are 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. 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. 


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.


Filling a Gap in Guatemala

When first publishing this story a few weeks ago, Guatemala had the lowest number of cases of COVID-19 of all Central American countries, yet there are still many challenges that families are facing.

Today we hear from our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, about the current situation in Guatemala.

Today we hear from our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, about the current situation in Guatemala and how Children Incorporated is responding.

COVID-19 impact on Guatemala
“Some of our affiliations in Guatemala are supporting the children regularly, but with many difficulties as they have a curfew in place in the country: no one is to move from 6 pm to 4 am every day. Many people complain about the lack of social distancing, especially in the poor, overcrowded areas of the country,” said Luis.

Yet despite these issues, there have only been around 1000 cases in Guatemala reported. Probably because of the government implementation of the mandate, restrictions to [going]  outside without a mask, the lockdown of the country, and of course, social distancing.”

Food and hygiene product bags are packed up at our affiliated project, Sagrada Familia, for families to take home.

“No flights are allowed internationally, and no traveling within states. The president has taken this epidemic very seriously as he is a medical doctor and has worked very hard on making the right decisions so far, as per the information I have received from our coordinators,” said Luis.

“Currently, schools are still suspended, and most businesses at this time. Only essential work goes on and under restrictions. Since traffic is always a problem in the country, you can imagine [that] getting home before the curfew hour has been a challenge. The curfew will stay until further notice, although the president allowed some shopping.”

“The government of Guatemala had a [plan to provide] one-time cash support to families [in the amount] of Q1,000 (equivalent to US $130 dollars), but only about Q200 million was available originally, [which supported] only about 200,000 families of the 17 million people living in the country,” said Luis.

“Of course, the amount has grown since, but the support to families is practically non-existent. Almost half of the population in Guatemala were low-income earners, and the percentage of people receiving aid in this group was minimal. No one having an income above the minimum wage (minimum wage is about US $220 a month) would receive this incentive. Only people making less than that would qualify, including street vendors and non-income filers, nannies, and house service people earning much less.”

Our Response

We are grateful for the support that our sponsors and donors are providing to families in Guatemala at this time. Thanks to donations made to our COVID-19 Response Fund and to our sponsored children, we have provided funds to our affiliated projects to purchase food, hygiene items, and other necessities for children while they are out of school for the duration of the outbreak.

About Guatemala

Located just southeast of Mexico, Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America. Its spectacular mountains boast a wealth of natural resources and stunning biodiversity. For centuries, this land served as the core territory of the Mayan civilization. Following two centuries of Spanish colonization, Guatemala gained its independence in the early nineteenth century, only to endure another 150 years of political instability and civil unrest. Additionally, this area is prone to devastating natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes, which cause mudslides and flooding. Despite recent economic growth and successful democratic elections, Guatemala still struggles with widespread poverty, illiteracy, crime, and high rates of unemployment and underemployment.

Thanks to donations made to our COVID-19 Response Fund and to our sponsored children, we can send funds to our affiliated projects to provide food, hygiene items, and other necessities for children while they are out of school for the duration of the outbreak.

About our affiliated projects

Juan Apostol School
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Founded in 1964, the Juan Apostol School strives to provide the deserving children of Guatemala City with a well-rounded education — the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. In this way, students here have the opportunity to rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances into which they were born.

Zacapa School
Zacapa, Guatemala

In 1952, upon discovering that many children were unable to receive an education due to the limited number of schools in this rural area, a group of American Lutheran missionaries established a boarding school to remedy the problem. Although not many children board at Zacapa School today, the school continues its mission of providing impoverished children with a sound education and moral guidance.

Santa Isabel Ana Seton
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Families wait to pick up items while also practicing social distancing in Guatemala.

Named for a North American nun who was canonized in 1975, the Santa Isabel Ana Seton Welfare Center serves as a beacon of hope in the city’s poorest district. Here, the Sisters of San Vincente de Paul and Santa Luisa de Marillac tend to the needs of local impoverished families. Additionally, since Guatemala’s public education system suffers from overcrowding, numerous teacher strikes, and a general lack of school supplies, the Sisters also provide education through the affiliated Escuela Santa Maria private school. Together, the school and project strive to provide these deserving children with basic needs and sound education.

Sagrada Familia
Antigua, Guatemala

Sagrada Familia’s mission is to provide Antigua’s impoverished children with the educational, nutritional, and medical support they so desperately need. With the well-rounded education they receive, students here are given the opportunity to rise above the problematic socioeconomic circumstances from which they come.

Casa Central
Guatemala City, Guatemala

In one of Guatemala City’s slum neighborhoods, the Casa Central School was founded in the mid-nineteenth century and run by the gracious nuns of the Sisters of Charity. Casa Central has a long and honorable history of ministering to the children here, offering them a place of refuge from the instability and crime that pervade this neighborhood.

Bethel-Quetzaltenango Primary School
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Established by the local Bethel Church, the Bethel-Quetzaltenango Primary School’s mission is to assist Quetzaltenango’s impoverished children. Here, these deserving boys and girls receive a well-rounded education.

Tecpan School
Tecpan, Guatemala

Run by nuns of the Hijas de Caridad (Daughters of Charity) Order, the Tecpan School strives to aid the impoverished children of this region. The school offers children a solid education from caring administrators and staff.



You can sponsor a child in Guatemala 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 Guatemala that is available for sponsorship.

Providing Relief in Kenya

We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors and donors who have supported our COVID-19 relief efforts over the last few months. Recently, we heard from our volunteer coordinator, James, at our affiliated project, the Dandora Community Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, as to how donations are helping children in our program and their families:

Recently, we heard from our volunteer coordinator, James, at our affiliated project, the Dandora Community Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, as to how donations are helping children in our program and their families.

“I am glad to write to you to inform you that with the feeding funds that were sent to us this month, we were able to buy food items [for] the children that we then packaged for their parents to take home. We [were] able to fill the food bags with maize, flour, cooking oil, rice, beans and bar soaps, and detergent.”

About Kenya

Located in the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa, Kenya is known for its fertile highlands, grassy savannahs, wildlife, and its namesake peak, Mt. Kenya. Its economy relies heavily upon agriculture and tourism. Kenya is also a cradle of civilization, rich in cultural heritage and diversity. The nation’s wealth of natural beauty, resources, and culture, however, belie the poverty in which most of its residents live. Tragically, poverty and weak government institutions permit frequent violations of human rights. Kenya is plagued by a severe shortage of healthcare workers, which contributes to lower life expectancies, high infant mortality rates, and widespread preventable disease.

Our projects in Kenya

Dandora Community Centre
Nairobi, Kenya

A mother receives a bag of donated food and hygiene items to be taken home during COVID-19.

Established in the Dandora public housing projects and operated by the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, the Dandora Community Centre’s mission is to serve the nearly 7,000 residents of this overcrowded slum neighborhood. The community center’s dedicated staff instills moral and spiritual values through a well-rounded education while providing for such basic needs as nutritious food and medical care.

St. John’s Community Center
Nairobi, Kenya

The St. John’s Community Center was established in the late 1950s following a violent period known as the Mau Mau Uprising. The center’s mission is to provide long-term social services to the needy – regardless of age, tribal affiliation, or faith. By providing for the children’s immediate needs as well as investing in their future through education, St. John’s Community Center offers these deserving children the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and rise above the difficult socio-economic circumstances they face.

Materi Girls’ School
Tharaka, Meru, Kenya

Tharaka is a village located some 100 miles north of Nairobi. Isolated and impoverished, Tharaka is one of the least-developed villages in the area. Life for its impoverished residents is a constant challenge. In this agricultural region, drought, famine, and malnutrition are everyday realities. For this reason, the Materi Girls’ School is incredibly valuable to the community. Established in 1973, the school’s mission is to provide a well-rounded education to the needy girls of this area – regardless of clan, tribe, or religion. Sponsored by the Catholic Bishop of Kenya and approved by the Kenyan Ministry of Education, the Materi School is highly sought-after for its high academic standards and distinguished reputation.

We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors and donors who have supported our COVID-19 relief efforts over the last few months.

Msamaria Mwema
Nairobi, Kenya

Located just beyond Nairobi’s outskirts and operating as part of the local St. Nicholas Community Development Centre, Msamaria Mwema was founded by the Mothers’ Union of the Anglican Church of Kenya in 1986 as a rescue and rehabilitation center for needy children of the community. The center strives to empower orphans, vulnerable children, and impoverished women through education, vocational training, and the provision of basic needs, like shelter and nutrition. Since the center’s inception, hundreds of children have benefited from the spiritual, emotional, and physical care offered at Msamaria Mwema.

Maria Immaculata Children’s Education Center
Kiamumbi, Nairobi, Kenya

In Kiamumbi – one of Nairobi’s outlying neighborhoods – children live in squalid slum conditions and are often orphaned, neglected, and abused. For this reason, Maria Immaculata Children’s Education Center serves as a beacon of hope. Founded in 1997 by the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, this combined school and children’s home helps the area’s neediest children grow into healthy, productive members of society. Its mission is to instill moral and spiritual values through care, encouragement, education, and community intervention. In partnership with Children Incorporated’s sponsorship program, Maria Immaculata Children’s Education Center helps these deserving children realize their full potential.


The Challenges of Home Life

Nestled in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains and steeped in a rich cultural heritage lies Wolfe County, Kentucky.

As is the case for many areas of Appalachia, Wolfe County’s natural beauty belies the abject poverty in which many of its residents live. Wolfe County carries the unfortunate distinction of being one of Kentucky’s most impoverished regions.

As is the case for many areas of Appalachia, Wolfe County’s natural beauty belies the abject poverty in which many of its residents live.

At one time, logging, tourism for nearby mineral springs, and factories employed the majority of this area’s residents. Over time, these industries vanished, leaving ghost towns, unemployment, and high poverty rates in their wake. High dropout rates and adult illiteracy only serve to fuel the cycle of poverty.

“Today, leaders and residents in Wolfe County are working hard to reimagine new opportunities to rebuild the local economy,” explains our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“One area being explored is tourism. Wolfe County is home to the outstanding Red River Gorge, a canyon system in the Red River. The gorge lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest, and it has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a National Archeological District. There are many high sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, waterfalls, and natural bridges. There is a gorge that is a popular place for rock climbers. A few small businesses have sprung up to support tourists, ranging from those selling supplies to an outstanding pizza restaurant.”

A long way to go

Regardless of the efforts, the county still has a long way to go for real economic development. Since the collapse of the coal industry, many of its families struggle with poverty, hopelessness, and addiction. Sadly, as always, the children are the most vulnerable — including those at our affiliated projects, Wolfe County Middle School and High Schools.

Per the Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Center, the county’s average child poverty rate for 2014-2018 was 38%. From 2012 to 2016, it was a wretched 55%. The improvement is not because of the county’s ability to address poverty, but because so many families have moved out in hopes of better opportunities.

Working to support kids in need

Fortunately, the Family Resource Youth Services Center at Wolfe County Middle and High Schools can help children and their families to succeed in school by minimizing or removing non-cognitive barriers to their learning.

Kids in Wolfe County are fortunate to have a volunteer coordinator like Connie to look out for their well-being.

The resource center’s offerings range from Born Learning (for infants and preschoolers) to Back to School Bashes and Ready Fests, to Red Ribbon Week (drug awareness and prevention), to recognizing and responding to violence, and to bringing partners and resources to address the children’s well-being and success.

Children Incorporated is proud to be able to partner with the Family Resource Center in Wolfe County Middle and High School. It is in these places that we hope to help children develop resilience, to graduate from high school, and eventually to break the cycle of poverty by having work that will support themselves and their own families someday,” said Renée.

Getting to meet with Connie

Wolfe County Middle and High School are side-by-side schools, and the Youth Services Centers are both run by our volunteer coordinator, Connie. The total enrollment at the middle and high school is about 600 students. Children Incorporated U.S. Programs Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, visited with Connie recently to find out more how our program is supporting her work.

“I met with Connie at the high school during my last visit to Wolfe County. Connie says she likes our sponsorship program because it helps her kids with clothing, which is very important to middle and high school kids,” expressed Shelley.

“She takes her high school students on a bus to Lexington to shop at Kohls, where the kids can pick out clothes and shoes.  She says it’s an enjoyable experience for them, and she is grateful that she can be so flexible with the program.”

Connie also told Shelley that transportation is a significant barrier for her students; many of them rely on the school bus system to get to and from school. Because of this, these students are unable to participate in any after-school programs, tutoring programs, or extracurricular activities because they do not have a way to get home.

Beyond transportation concerns, the biggest challenge for students at the middle and high school is the home life.

Fortunately, the school has been awarded a grant for the 21st Century after-school program, and part of the grant money will be put towards bus transportation for the students. Per the 21st Century website: “21st Century Community Learning Centers provide essential support to students who are often underserved and offer creative, engaging learning opportunities to kids of all ages and backgrounds.”

An even bigger concern

Beyond transportation concerns, the biggest challenge for students at the middle and high school is the home life. They come to school, and their minds are elsewhere because they are worried about where they will sleep from day to day or worrying about mom or dad being on drugs.

Often there is not enough food in the house, and they come to school hungry and tired after the weekend. Many of the students are living with grandparents or other relatives. A growing number of students are moving into the area because they are in foster care.

These students have grown up in volatile environments and bring a lot of challenges with them to school each day. Often these students act out in school, which can be difficult for the teachers and other students.

Even with all the issues these children face, the high school’s graduation rate is very high, and that is thanks to a dedicated and caring staff and administration at the high school.

If a student is failing several classes, they can take online courses or attend one on one classes at an extension campus to graduate.

“Connie is hoping that with the new after-school program, the graduation rate will be even better. After graduation, some students will attend college while others attend technical college or transition to work,” said Shelley.


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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Fighting Against Hunger During COVID-19

 Amidst school closures across the U.S. this past spring, our concern turned to how to best help children who are already living in vulnerable situations. 

Our volunteer coordinators are making sure children continue to receive food during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many children in our program rely on school lunches and on our Backpack Feeding Program to ensure they are receiving adequate meals throughout the day and on the weekends. Without the support they receive at school, they risk facing hunger at home. Thankfully, because of our donors and sponsors, just like you, and the hard work of our volunteer coordinators in the U.S., students continued to receive food even though school was out. Thank you for all that you do to help children in need! 


What is our COVID-19 Response Fund?

Since many children  — both in the United States and abroad — rely upon free or reduced-price school meals during the week, one of the greatest challenges they face during these school closures is access to adequate food.

Also, many of the children in our program live in group homes and have nowhere to go during this time of crisis. In these cases, in addition to food, cleaning supplies and other hygiene-related items are in demand to help keep children healthy and safe.

Donations to our COVID-19 Response Fund will be used to provide food and emergency supplies to the children in our program who are in immediate need.


Responding to COVID-19 in the United States

Our International Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Emerging on the Other Side