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As a part of our 2022 “Virtual Visit” series, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, takes us to Floyd Central High School on a visit to hear about our sponsorship program and other outreach services conducted by our volunteer coordinator, Teresa.

Renée Virtual Visit

“Floyd Central High is a relatively new school located in the community of Eastern. It was built in 2017 as a consolidation of the old Allen Central High and South Floyd High Schools. It offers the standard state-approved curriculum, and also offers dual enrollment, AP, and online college courses. The sports teams compete in football, baseball, volleyball, softball, and cheerleading. There are also competitive teams for golf, archery — and bass fishing!”

“Teresa is devoted to her students and families. Most are loving and hardworking, but generations of poverty and lack of education have caused a lot of hardship and struggle.”

“The high school is also a ‘feeder’ school for two other Children Incorporated affiliated sites — Duff-Allen Central and May Valley Elementary schools, which is fantastic because our sponsors can follow their sponsored children from elementary to high school with ease thanks to these partnerships.”

“Floyd Central serves about 638 students in grades 9-12. Everyone at the school is very proud of the 93% graduation rate, considering that the students and families face a lot of challenges — 75% of students live in poverty and lack access to basic resources.”

Teresa’s programs

“Our volunteer coordinator at the school is Teresa. She is an involved coordinator who has created a Youth Services Center Student Outreach Group. They host activities and raise funds for special events throughout the year, ranging from purchasing suitcases for foster children to pet food donations for the local animal shelter. This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to feel connected and give back to their community.”

Family Game Nights were a hit with Teresa’s students and their parents.

“Since the pandemic, in addition to our sponsorship program, Children Incorporated helped Teresa with three other programs. The first program was a series of family fun nights where the students and families turned off their screens and bonded over playing board games and making snacks together. Teresa collaborated with the other coordinators, and it was a county-wide event. The families sent pictures to Teresa and said they were surprised at how much this meant to them.”

“The second program was mixing physical activity and positive mental outlooks to support educational outcomes. The last program was a health and fun fair for expectant and new mothers, which was also a collaborative, county-wide event. The fair included packets of important information and diaper bags filled with small baby care items. Participants could register for one of three grand prizes: a baby bouncer, rocker, or stroller.”

Getting the support they need

“Teresa is devoted to her students and families. Most are loving and hardworking, but generations of poverty and lack of education have caused a lot of hardship and struggle. Teresa shared that one of her students is being raised by a single father. Due to some unexpected expenses, he got behind on rent. In order to get caught up, the dad and his son were paid a little money by neighbors to clear brush out of their creek beds. The boy sells eggs to help. Teresa said that our sponsorship program is a big help with this boy’s school clothing. He (and the other program-enrolled children) fit in with their peers with the new clothes they receive which really helps their self-esteem, and they are dressed appropriately for the weather.”

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How do I sponsor a child in Kentucky?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Renée Kube

Renée oversees Children Incorporated’s work in the United States – from the rural southeast and southwest to our urban areas in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. She works closely with our U.S. Programs Specialist and an outstanding network of more than 100 volunteer coordinators at each affiliated site. For sixteen years, Renée managed our sites in the Appalachian Region before taking her current role in 2010.

» more of Renée's stories

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck hard in March 2020, all U.S. schools went fully virtual. They had no time to prepare — everything was done, as the old saying goes, “on a wing and prayer.” However, for most districts, the school year was over by mid-May, and at first everyone thought things would be back to normal soon. Then, the realization sank in across the country that the pandemic would get worse before it got better, so the summer of 2020 was used to plan for a very different 2020-2021 school year.

Our volunteer coordinators at schools around the country coped during the 2020-2021 school year with a mixture of hybrid and virtual instruction and outreach. They rose admirably to the challenge.

Our volunteer coordinators at schools around the country coped during the 2020-2021 school year with a mixture of hybrid and virtual instruction and outreach. They rose admirably to the challenge. Again, in May 2021, there was a sense of optimism, only to be faced with the late summer Delta variant and the late autumn Omicron variant. Many school districts opened their doors in August 2021 for in-person instruction while others chose hybrid. Due to rising infection rates, many had to go back and forth between in-person and virtual learning. Some have continued with virtual instruction only.

Though we haven’t been able to visit our affiliated sites in-person, Children Incorporated staff has stayed in close contact through lots of emails and phone calls, as well as virtual visits via FaceTime, Zoom, and Google Meet. Over the next weeks, we will share with you stories from our “virtual trip report” about our organization’s affiliations in beautiful Floyd County, Kentucky and how our sponsors’ support has been especially important during the past two years.

We hope you enjoy taking this “virtual trip” with us and thank you for all your support of children in our program in Floyd County, Kentucky and around the world!

About Floyd County

Coal was first discovered in the American colonies in 1750. It was found in what would become Kentucky, when explorer Thomas Walker used some coal to heat his campfire. However, it would be another 150 years before coal was mined in the Eastern Coalfields region on a large commercial scale. In 1820, the first commercial coal mine opened in Muhlenberg County, in western Kentucky.

The decline of the coal industry has in so many ways effected families and communities in Eastern Kentucky.

Floyd County was a former major coal mining area with a long and noted history of which its residents are extremely proud. In 1900, the first commercial coal mine in the Eastern Coalfields region was opened in the Betsy Layne community in Floyd County. Coal mining experienced periods of boom and bust during the 20th century. The two world wars were boom periods. The first was followed by a deep bust, brought on by the end of war production and the start of the Great Depression. After World War II, the Korean War kept the second boom going longer. However, railroads and households began shifting from coal to oil and gas for their energy needs, and the industry experienced another downturn.

The decline of coal

Two developments have resulted in the major reduction of  coal mines — increased mechanization which has reduced the need for labor, and the regulation of factory emissions by the 1990 Clean Air Act. Kentucky coal, has a high sulfur content, making it less desirable than coal in other parts of the country, and factory emissions with high sulfur content contribute to high rates of acid rain, which leads to deforestation and makes water sources acidic. Coal companies can remove the sulfur through scrubbers, switch to mining low-sulfur coal, which is found in western states like Wyoming, or pay fines for their sulfur production.

The result of factory emissions regulation has been a steadily decreasing number of coal mines and of well-paying mining jobs in eastern Kentucky. But the issue goes beyond that, as the coal economy once supported communities across the entire Eastern Coalfields region. Other sectors, which have fewer customers with purchasing power, such as the banking, engineering, construction, transportation, and related manufacturing sectors, have been impacted as well. Over time, the results are fewer jobs, and those left are mostly service jobs (fast food restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, etc.) that pay low wages. With the decline of the coal industry came a rise in poverty.

Poverty is linked to poor health and food insecurity, and Floyd County residents have long been plagued by all three. In Floyd County, rates of premature death and infant mortality are twice as high than the rest of the nation. Three in ten adults are obese. Four in ten adults exercise less than once a month. More than one-third of adults describe their health as fair or poor. More than one-third smoke, which is twice the national average. There is also a serious problem with opioid addiction. Some Floyd County families have trouble getting to the doctor, contacting the doctor, or just don’t believe in going to the doctor.

For the children, the schools have been a place not only of education, but the lifeline of the federal free breakfast and lunch program.

Extreme poverty in Kentucky

In 2019, USA Today reported a finding by 24/7 Wall Street, which had conducted an index study of three measures: poverty, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and average life expectancy at birth. They used these to identify the “25 Worst Counties In Which To Live In America.” Floyd County was #25. The report stated Floyd County, in the center of Appalachian Kentucky, epitomizes the social and economic problems of the region. More than 30% of residents live below the poverty line, and a similar percentage rely on SNAP benefits (food stamps) to afford minimum basic essentials. Floyd is losing residents rapidly. In the last five years, the population has dropped 5.1% even as the U.S. population grew by 3.8%.

For 10 years, the organization Feeding America has been conducting a “Map the Meal Gap” study to improve our understanding of food insecurity. The term refers to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of both lack of access to enough food for an active healthy lifestyle and limited availability of nutritious food. Food insecure children are those living in food insecure households. The most recent mapping was based on data from 2018. However, due to Covid-19, the organization also released a companion study and interactive map to show the impact of the pandemic on food insecurity. For Floyd County, the overall food insecurity rate is 22.1%. The child food insecurity rate is 31.7%.

According to the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) website, the all-age poverty rate in Floyd County has declined since 2000. However, the U.S. Census Bureau shows the all-age poverty rate is still high at 27.4%, and using the last available data from 2018, the “Well Being in The Nation Network” shows the Floyd County child poverty rate is 31.7%. Both rates are higher than the national averages.

The importance of our partnerships

For the children, the schools have been a place not only of education, but the lifeline of the federal free breakfast and lunch program. The schools are also a place of community and care, of secure and stable routines, and exposure to the enrichment of activities, clubs, and athletics. The Covid-19 pandemic has kept vulnerable children at home for much of the past two years. Some children adapted well to remote learning, but others not so much.

Our valued partnership with the Family Resource Youth Services Centers is so important to providing basic necessities to children in our program. Our missions are complementary, and our sponsors and donors provide the resources that help them remove barriers to the children’s full potential.

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How do I sponsor a child in Kentucky?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Renée Kube

Renée oversees Children Incorporated’s work in the United States – from the rural southeast and southwest to our urban areas in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. She works closely with our U.S. Programs Specialist and an outstanding network of more than 100 volunteer coordinators at each affiliated site. For sixteen years, Renée managed our sites in the Appalachian Region before taking her current role in 2010.

» more of Renée's stories

As a part of our work with our affiliated sites in the United States, our volunteer coordinators write letters to talk about their resource center programs and how our sponsors are changing the lives of children at their schools.

Today, we hear from Jenny at Catlettsburg Elementary School in Kentucky, who is incredibly grateful to have partners just like Children Incorporated and knows first-hand how our work helps change the lives of children in need.

Today, we hear from Jenny at Catlettsburg Elementary School in Kentucky, who is incredibly grateful to have partners just like Children Incorporated and knows first-hand how our work helps change the lives of children in need.

Jenny’s Letter

“It’s almost time for some summer fun as the staff and students in Boyd County, Kentucky finalize plans for the end of the 2021-2022 school year. While it is hard to see our current 5th graders leave us and venture on to the middle school, we know we have done our absolute best to prepare them for the next step in their educational journey.

To help them prepare for their big transition into middle school, all 5th grade students attended the Family Resource Center-sponsored ‘Transition Program’ recently.

This program was held on Monday, April 25, 2022. The 5th grade students traveled to Boyd County Middle School to the event. While at the school, the students were broken into eight groups and paired with a student tour guide and one adult staff member. These groups then got to take a tour of their new school and sat in on all 6th grade core content classes as well as all 6th grade extra-curricular classes. They also met their new principal, their new assistant principals, and their new guidance counselors while on this visit. The students had an opportunity to ask any questions and voice concerns before the beginning of their new school year in the fall.”

Special memories and friendships

Catlettsburg Elementary School

A view of the entrance to Catlettsburg Elementary School

“Along with a visit to the middle school, the Family Resource Center provides all 5th grade students with an autograph/memory book and a graduation pen at their 5th Grade Breakfast Graduation Ceremonies. These books can be used by the kids to record special memories and friendships made during their elementary years. The Resource Center also provides all 5th grade students a pamphlet for their parents to have to prepare the adults for the next step in their child’s education and make the transition a smooth one for every child.

As with every end of the school year, we have been busy conducting programs and activities that are happening now, as well as making plans for summer and fall programs coming soon.  The annual WOW Summer Camp is in June and July at Catlettsburg Elementary. This year’s theme is a “Career Carnival” and the students will be focusing on career/job readiness, reading and math content areas, STEAM activities, and enrichment/educational crafts. Over the years, Children Incorporated enrolled students are some of those in attendance at this camp and have always left with sharpened academic and social skills.

During spring break this year, we met all of the currently enrolled Children Incorporated families at Walmart for a “Family Shop Day”. It has been nearly two years since we have been able to allow the families to go to Walmart with us to shop due to COVID, and we had a wonderful time! Students got the chance to pick out spring and summer clothing, and the parents loved having the opportunity to try the items on their child for proper fit.

You have put thousands of books in our students’ hands, clothes on their backs, and food in their bellies.

A great deal of gratitude for Children Incorporated

As we wrap up what remains of the year, we look back and smile while counting our blessings to have wonderful community partners such as Children Incorporated. From funding our “Books 4 Home” program, to meeting students’ basic and educational needs, your organization is very much appreciated by ourselves, our students, and their families. You have put thousands of books in our students’ hands, clothes on their backs, and food in their bellies.

In closing, not only are the children enrolled in Children Incorporated having their basic needs met, but through continued correspondence with their sponsors throughout the years, they are making lifelong mentors and creating special friendships. The Family Resource Center wishes each and every one the sponsors a relaxing summer with lots of fun times with your family and friends. We look forward to working with you again for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.”

Warmest Regards,
Jenny

***

How do I sponsor a child in Kentucky?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD

Today, we want to share a letter of hope and inspiration from one of our many incredible volunteer coordinators from around the world. If there was ever any doubt of the power of sponsorship, Teresa, at Floyd Central High School in Kentucky, confirms with a sweet letter just how much sponsors mean to children in our program:

If there was ever any doubt of the power of sponsorship, Teresa, at Floyd Central High School in Kentucky, confirms with a sweet letter just how much sponsors mean to children in our program.

“Dear Children Incorporated Staff and Sponsors,

First of all, I want to say thank you for everything that your organization does for our students. Your sponsorship program has been such a blessing. I am not a big fan of shopping; however, I love seeing the students’ faces when they are given new clothes and shoes. They especially enjoy receiving items for their birthdays and Christmas. Because of their sponsors’ generosity, all of my Children Incorporated-enrolled kids receive new clothing and shoes at back-to-school, Christmas, and springtime. In addition, each receives a Thanksgiving and Christmas food basket.

Our school was also fortunate to receive two grants from your Hope In Action Fund. I collaborated with the other schools in our county, as well as local partners, such as our Health Department and Extension Office, for these initiatives. The first was a New/Expectant Parents Fair. Each participant received a bag filled with important information, as well as a new book for the baby, diapers, wipes, and more.

Teresa sent photos of packed supplies waiting to go out to students, thanks to a donation from our Hope In Action Fund.

To encourage participation, there were also door prizes, such as baby monitors, car seats, play yards, and developmental toys. These babies will be our kindergarteners in just a few short years. The second initiative was a Family Fun Night. Our schools’ coordinators shopped for and provided good old fashioned board games (like Hi Ho Cherry-O, Jenga, Monopoly, UNO, etc.), pizza kits, and snacks to promote family bonding and less screen time. Both initiatives were handled via socially distanced “Drive Thru & Pick Ups” during the pandemic.

Finally, I would like to show how the sponsors are making such a huge difference in the lives of our students by sharing a story. I have one young man about whom I was approached by two of his teachers. They had concerns in regards to his appearance and hygiene. They said something had been off with him since we returned to school.

“Our principal spoke of this young man and what an amazing difference she has seen in just a short amount of time. None of this would have been possible without the generosity of his sponsor.”

I met with this young man, and of course he said everything was fine. He kept his head down for most of our meeting. I noticed this young man had severe acne, and I was sure this was a part of his low self-esteem. I tried to make contact with his mom via phone and then again on a home visit, but with no luck. This student missed an excessive amount of school. Then I noticed the student seemed to be making a connection with our new JROTC officer, so the officer and I worked together, coming up with a plan to help this young man and to gain his trust.

With the generosity of his sponsor, I was able to purchase him new clothing, shoes, hygiene items – and now acne medicine, too. Slowly, this young man started coming around and being more involved with school and the JROTC program. There has been just an overwhelming positive change in this student’s life. He had never participated in anything and never had many friends. This year he came to and even danced at the Military Ball. At our end of the year staff dinner, our principal spoke of this young man and what an amazing difference she has seen in just a short amount of time. None of this would have been possible without the generosity of his sponsor.

With sincere thanks,

Teresa”

***

How do I sponsor a child in Kentucky?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD

Thanksgiving is a special time of year for many families in the United States, but for those living in poverty, the expense of purchasing food for the holiday can be something they just can’t afford.

Thankfully, for many of our sponsored children, we were able to provide funding from our Hope In Action Fund and our U.S. Feeding Program Fund to purchase meals to send home before Thanksgiving break.

Thankfully, for many of our sponsored children, we were able to provide funding from our Hope In Action Fund and our U.S. Feeding Program Fund to purchase meals to send home before Thanksgiving break. At the request of our volunteer coordinator at John M. Stumbo Elementary School, kids in our program received Thanksgiving meals including turkeys –totaling nearly $1800 in special food items. At Sparta Elementary School in North Carolina, our volunteer coordinator, Mandy, wrote:

“All of our Children Incorporated sponsored students are receiving a Holiday Meal Bag before the weekend. Each bag includes a country ham, a 10-lb bag of dried pinto beans, biscuit mix, cobbler mix, jam or jelly, fresh fruit – and a little bit of candy.  We are scheduling pick-ups now, and our parents and guardians have repeatedly expressed their gratitude to their children’s sponsors. Best wishes for a blessed, safe, and very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at Children Incorporated from all of us at Sparta Elementary School!”

From all of us at Children Incorporated, thanks to all of our sponsors and donors who helped make Thanksgiving a special holiday for children in need this year!

Pictured is a sponsored child in New Mexico receiving a Thanksgiving food box, thanks to his sponsor. Our amazing coordinator made home deliveries, as this project is still on fully remote instruction.

About John M. Stumbo

Nestled in eastern Kentucky’s coalfields region, Floyd County has one of the state’s highest populations – but also the state’s highest unemployment rate. Though situated on the beautiful Cumberland Plateau, where coal mining used to thrive and where rich coal veins still exist, the war on coal has devastated the local economy, causing many jobs and families to leave the area. Those who remain here face limited job opportunities, rampant poverty, and the devastating effects of the region’s drug epidemic. The small, close-knit community of Grethel is no exception to this grievous reality. In fact, it is estimated that a staggering 90% of area students have lost at least one family member to addiction.

For this reason, John M. Stumbo Elementary School serves as a safe haven where students not only receive a well-rounded education, but also encouragement from caring staff and the only warm, nutritious meals they may receive each day.

About Sparta Elementary

Just south of the Virginia-North Carolina state border, Alleghany County is nestled amid idyllic mountains, only a few miles from the only roadway to be designated part of a U.S. national park –  the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thousands of tourists pass through Alleghany County each year to glimpse its spectacular vistas. Despite Alleghany County’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, the vast majority of its residents live well below the federal poverty line. Many local industries have closed in the past decade, and with a general lack of new employment opportunities, unemployment is escalating in Alleghany County.

This overwhelming poverty has debilitating effects on children of the region, affecting their self-esteem, health, and overall wellbeing. For this reason, Sparta Elementary School serves as a beacon of hope to its surrounding community. Students know Sparta Elementary as a place where they can count on receiving a hot meal, as well as respect, care, and a quality education — the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

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How do I sponsor a child in the United States?  

You can sponsor a child in the United States 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 the United States that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Our affiliated project, Morgan County Middle School, is located in West Liberty, Kentucky, and serves 464 students in 6th through 8th grade — many of whom come from low-income households.

The school’s Family Resource Youth Services Center is run by Children Incorporated’s volunteer coordinator, Kim.

“Kim runs a lot of important programs for our kids, and she can always use help with them. Her favorites are the 8th grade career mentoring program, the weekend feeding program, and the Sweet Dreams bed program,” said Renée.

“Kim was previously at one of the elementary schools, Morgan Central, for many years, but she moved up to the middle school after its coordinator retired. Kim said it was a smooth transition, as many of the kids were her former elementary students,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“However, the move did refine her awareness and sensitivity to this age group — middle school children are coping with the physical and emotional challenges of puberty, and many of them are also enduring poverty and family stress. These challenges make the Family Resource Center more important than ever.”

“When I last visited with Kim in late 2019, she told me that, due to the county’s high poverty rate, they were awarded district-wide free lunch. This has made it so much less embarrassing for the kids who don’t have lunch money. Now everyone is on the same level. Her school is also one of three schools in the county that is serving an early supper on select days, which really helps families in the community as well,” said Renée.

Kim’s Programs

Kim is pictured with one of the students in our sponsorship program at Morgan County Middle School.

“Kim runs a lot of important programs for our kids, and she can always use help with them. Her favorites are the 8th grade career mentoring program, the weekend feeding program, and the Sweet Dreams bed program. She is most proud of and excited about the Sweet Dreams bed program,” exclaimed Renée.

“Kim said all Morgan County Public Schools are eligible to participate in the Build A Bed Program operated by Morehead State University. However, only 200 beds are made per year, and with so many counties and schools eligible, not all children in need can be helped.”

“So, she and the other coordinators in Morgan County started their own program. The Eastern Kentucky Correctional Center is located in West Liberty. The prison builds the beds for free for the students at the school, and the school coordinators appeal to local businesses to buy the mattresses for the kids, some of which she has been able to secure. Kim said more assistance is always needed to purchase mattresses, sheets, blankets, pillows, and comforters,” said Renée.

Because of our Beds and Linens Fund, and thanks to our sponsors, Children Incorporated has been able to help Kim and our sponsored children with those new items so that students from the middle school can sleep comfortably at home and be prepared for school each day rested and ready to learn!”

***

How do I sponsor a child in Kentucky?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD