Tag Archives: donors

Back to School Bash in Letcher County

Letcher County is located in the southeastern corner of Kentucky and shares a border with Wise County, Virginia.

“Letcher County is very beautiful. On its eastern border runs a vast tract of the Jefferson National Forest, which is shared with Virginia,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

Jenkins Independent School is a long-established project with Children Incorporated, and our sponsorship programs are much needed and appreciated by the students.

“A point of pride in the county is Pine Mountain. It’s the second-highest mountain in Kentucky and is also an exceptionally long mountain whose ridge runs about 100 miles from just below the West Virginia line south through the Kentucky-Virginia border to Tennessee, including the entire length of Letcher County.”

“The county is trying hard to develop the tourist industry by promoting the scenic beauty to be enjoyed in its trails and parks. These include the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail, Bad Branch Falls, and the Pioneer Horse Trail,” said Renée.

The need for tourists

The reason the county is working so diligently to promote tourism is due to the collapse of the coal industry. There used to be dozens of coal camps in Letcher County, each employing an average of 30 to 300 men who lived in the camps with their families. However, with the rise of automation, coal extraction and processing could be done with a significantly reduced number of workers. This was devastating for the families, and also devastating for communities that lost the tax base for their schools and community services.

“Letcher County has formally asked the U.S. government to construct a federal penitentiary on the site of an abandoned mountain top strip mine. Letcher County Judge-Executive, Jim Ward, was interviewed by NBC News about the prospective prison. He said the economic situation is desperate in Letcher County. He has talked to residents who have lost their jobs and homes. He has talked with parents who see no hope for their children to be successful if they grow up and stay in the county. He said residents are willing to try or do almost anything to save their rural way of life,” said Renée.

Running programs to help children in need

The front view of Jenkins High School

Jenkins Independent School is a long-established project with Children Incorporated, and our sponsorship program is much needed and appreciated by the students. The school serves students in seventh through twelfth grade in a  two-story building comprising twenty classrooms, two computer labs, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, an art room, a band/music room, a library, a guidance office, and four special education rooms.

Our volunteer coordinator, Angie, is an experienced coordinator who works tirelessly to bring resources for her students. She runs a Backpack Feeding Program for those who struggle to cope with food insecurity. She maintains clothing and supply closets, and she is always reaching out for more donations within the small community.

Her “Back to School Bash” is a key program, where she brings in informational booths to set-up on the softball field and gives out tickets to the local pool, giving parents and children a chance to learn about any number of services the school and the community offers.

During a visit to the school with Angie, Renée had the chance to hear more about the programs Angie runs within the school. Then, Angie brought in a couple of students to her office for Renée to meet.

Much-needed support for kids in need

Brian* is a sweet and rather shy seventh-grader. In school, he likes math and music the best, and for sports, he likes baseball. Brian is not sure about his future plans, but he is interested in becoming a firefighter or maybe a construction worker.

“After he returned to class, Angie told me that Brian’s father had died unexpectedly,  and his mother has struggled with raising him as a single parent. Angie was so grateful that Brian had the support of his sponsor because she knew he needed the help,” said Renée.

Next, Renée met Julia.* When Julia joined our sponsorship program in 2011, when she was in elementary school, she was matched with a sponsor who is still supporting her today. Even though Julia has moved multiple times over the years, Angie always made sure she still stayed connected with her sponsor.

“Julia told me that her sponsors feel like grandparents to her. She is grateful for their financial help, but just as appreciative for the emotional support. They sent packages, additional money gifts, and letters that are precious to her,” said Renée.

***

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.

Offering Much-Needed Consistency for Kids

Martha Jane Potter Elementary School is located in Kona, Kentucky and has been a Children Incorporated affiliated project since 2005 — our first partnership in Letcher County.

“Our volunteer coordinator at Martha Jane Potter is Teresa, who has been our coordinator since we began working together over 15 years ago,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

Teresa is a hardworking coordinator who greatly appreciates our sponsorship program.

“Through the years, Teresa has developed long and stable relationships with the families in her community, and they trust her a great deal.”

A program that can provide

According to Renée, Teresa works hard to connect with partners to bring resources to students in need at her school. And although she does have luck finding small businesses, individuals, and churches to help in her efforts, one of her biggest issues is that often the support is temporary or is a one-time gift.

Several years ago, Teresa was contacted by a mega-church in Georgia. They provided her with 500 backpacks, which she shared with the other coordinators at our affiliated schools in Letcher County — yet they ran out before they were able to provide for all the children in need, which disappointed Teresa and the children.

“When I met with Teresa at Martha Jane Potter, she told me that the Children Incorporated program is her favorite program because it provides consistent monthly support so that she can budget and plan,” said Renée.

“I mentioned to Teresa that applying for funding from our Back to School Fund might interest her so she could buy more backpacks and give one to every child that needed one for the upcoming school year. That way, she won’t have to worry about some kids not getting school supplies.”

“When Natalie receives cards from her sponsor, she gets very excited. Her sponsors provide financial assistance and emotional support for Natalie, and she loves having them in her life,” exclaimed Renée.

The value of great partners

Even though some of her partners aren’t able to provide the same consistent support that Children Incorporated can, Teresa doesn’t value their help any less. She expressed to Renée how especially proud she was of a particular partnership with an organization that brings dental care to underserved neighborhoods in Kona.

The dentists also come to school via a mobile van to do exams, x-rays, fillings, and simple extractions.

After their meeting, Teresa introduced Renée to one of our sponsored children, Natalie.* Natalie is sponsored by a couple who has been part of our organization since 1970. She has two brothers, and they are all being raised by their grandparents. Natalie’s grandmother is retired, and her grandfather has cancer and is unable to work.

“When Natalie receives cards from her sponsor, she gets very excited. Her sponsors provide financial assistance and emotional support for Natalie, and she loves having them in her life,” exclaimed Renée.

*Name changed to protect the child.

***

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.

Attending, Learning and Graduating

Students in attendance at Boyd County High School in the small rural town of Cannonsburg, Kentucky are fortunate to have their resource center volunteer, Vickie, in their lives.

Thanks in large part to Vickie’s efforts, the school has a high success rate — much higher than many other schools in Eastern Kentucky. As of last year, 93% of students at the school graduate within four years, and 65% enroll in some type of higher education.

A committed coordinator

Renee with one of our sponsored children at Boyd County High School.

Renée with one of our sponsored children at Boyd County High School

While meeting with Vickie in the Resource Center at Boyd County High School, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube noted that Vickie had a deep commitment to her students.

“Vickie is always working on new initiatives to keep high school kids attending school and learning with a focus on graduating and going on to college or trade school,” said Renée.

Renée recognized that Vickie has an extremely tough job — she explained to Renée that the economy of the region had declined over the past ten years, and it has hit families hard.

A loss of jobs

Vickie cited the steel mill as an example, which, due to imports, cut its workers from 5000 to 2500 over the last decade. Because of these job losses the overall poverty rate in Boyd County is an astounding 20%.

“Vicki is always working on new initiatives to keep high school kids attending school and learning with a focus on graduating and going on to college or trade school,” said Renée.

In addition, 34% of households are headed by a single parent — in large part due to issues with drug abuse in the county. Because of these problems, Boyd County High School administrators have a lot to handle when it comes to supporting students. Many children lack adult supervision and the support they need at home to do well and focus on their futures after high school.

Overcoming every obstacle

Yet all of these obstacles don’t get in the way of Vickie helping kids and making sure they get the encouragement they need to succeed and to go on to higher education.

Vickie (right) is an incredibly dedicated volunteer coordinator.

According to Renée, Vickie is an incredibly dedicated Children Incorporated volunteer coordinator. She makes sure to check in with sponsored students weekly to find out precisely what they need. She also encourages them to write letters to their sponsors so they can feel connected to a caring adult in their lives.

That communication is so essential for kids because outside of the school environment, sponsors are often the only ones showing the kids they are worthwhile and capable of succeeding in life.

Excelling academically

With quite a few students raising themselves and their younger siblings because their parents are absent or unable to care for them, it isn’t surprising that they struggle to do well in school.

With so many distractions, they don’t have the time and energy to focus on their future. But thanks to Vickie and these students’ sponsors, kids at Boyd County High School not only are getting the attention they need every day, but they are excelling academically.

***

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

 

Pride in Her Students

For years, Catlettsburg, where our affiliated projects Catlettsburg Elementary and Ponderosa Elementary Schools are located, was known as “The Gate City” because it was here that barges were loaded with coal to be shipped down the Ohio River to other ports.

Although the children may come from strikingly different economic backgrounds, that doesn’t change how they interact with one other.

The decline of the coal industry in Kentucky and West Virginia has severely diminished the city’s economic importance, and commerce is now minimal. Today, this area of Boyd County, Kentucky suffers from high rates of both poverty and illiteracy, since a significant number of adults have never completed high school.

These social and economic problems negatively affect even the youngest members of Catlettsburg, which is why both Ponderosa and Catlettsburg Elementary serve as bright and welcoming places for children to learn and escape some of the harsh realities they face at home.

The Haves and Have Nots

While visiting the two schools, our Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube, met with our volunteer coordinator Jenny. Jenny oversees the resource centers at both schools, ensuring that children — including sponsored and unsponsored children in our program — are receiving basic needs throughout the school year.

During their meeting, Jenny explained to Renée that because Boyd County is located in a very rural and beautiful part of the country, Catlettsburg has become a popular place for middle and upper-class families to build homes. Jenny feels that because of this migration, the student population is divided more conspicuously into the “haves and have nots.”

Although the children may come from strikingly different economic backgrounds, that doesn’t change how they interact with one other.

While the administration, faculty and staff of the schools may know which families struggle and which do not, Jenny says the students are very close and treat each other with kindness and respect.

Additionally, as a tight-knit group, the children are more than willing to come together to help other students in need — even those that are far away.

Additionally, as a tight-knit group, the children are more than willing to come together to help other students in need — even those that are far away.

Rising to a challenge

Before their meeting ended, Jenny told Renée a story expressing how much pride she had in her students.

In 2018, the deadly Camp Fire burned down much of the town of Paradise, California — including a school also named Ponderosa Elementary School. Not long after the fire, the principal of Ponderosa Elementary School in Catlettsburg was informed about a nationwide fundraiser through another Ponderosa Elementary School in Oregon.

The fundraiser, deemed “Pennies for Ponderosa Initiative” requested that the eleven schools named Ponderosa Elementary School in the United States collect donations for the rebuilding of the California school.

The children at Jenny’s school stepped up to the challenge. They not only raised money to help students on the other side of the country, but also sent video messages of hope and encouragement as they and their families worked to rebuild their lives.

Whether coming from an impoverished background or not, children at Ponderosa Elementary School showed that they were willing to do anything they could to help others in need — and that is something to be proud of.

***

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

 

Children Incorporated Fall 2019 Newsletter

In 1964, the average cost of a new home in the United States was $13,050. Postage stamps were 5 cents each, and a gallon of gasoline cost just 25 cents more than that. In the same year, a young woman named Jeanne Clarke Wood started Children Incorporated out of her home in Richmond, Virginia to improve the lives of children who often went hungry and without having their most basic needs met.

Fifty-five years later, the work of Children Incorporated is still changing lives.

Reports from those early days indicate that funds provided by Children Incorporated were life-changing. Hungry children were fed. Children who had been wearing threadbare clothes and shoes with holes in the soles were outfitted with sturdy clothing. Young people, who had gone without paper, pencils and necessary schoolbooks were provided with them.

Fifty-five years later, the work of Children Incorporated is still changing lives.

Thanks to our donors and sponsors, we have changed the lives of approximately 300,000 children and their families in the last six decades. Today, our dedication to improving lives and providing education, hope and opportunity is as strong — if not stronger — than ever.

Thanks to You, Children in Puerto Rico Have New Playground Equipment

Thanks to the generosity of our wonderful donors, Children Incorporated recently purchased and installed brand new playground equipment at the Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This playground offers a safe place for children in the surrounding community to play under the supervision of caring adults — something they have not had in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Brand New Textbooks for Students in Kenya

In Kenya, children are often required to purchase their own textbooks — an expense that is a significant burden for their families. Thanks to donations  from our donors, we were able to send additional support to the Dandora Center in Nairobi — our affiliated project — for the purchase of schoolbooks. With this help, students at the school recently received books at no cost!

In Guatemala, a New Skills Training Program Teaches Dressmaking

We recently received photos from our volunteer coordinator at the Juan Apostol School in Guatemala City, Guatemala, of students learning how to sew thanks to the newly implemented Dressmaking Program. Students learn sewing skills that they can apply to their personal lives or use in the future to generate income.

This is the fifth training program implemented at the Juan Apostol School, thanks to our donors and sponsors. Other programs include Cosmetology, Food Preparation, Computer Repair and Maintenance, Graphic Design and Music.

Back to School season is one of the toughest times for children in need. Not having new outfits or school supplies to start the school year off right can diminish their confidence and make it difficult for them to focus.

Thankfully, children in our program — like those in Letcher County, Kentucky — receive bookbags and other school supplies, so they have the tools they need to feel good about themselves and to start the school year ready to learn!

Letter from our Volunteer Coordinators 

“I truly believe Children Incorporated has made an impact on my students’ lives. I have seen their smiles, felt their hugs and their appreciation for gifts and letters of encouragement from their sponsors.”

– Deborah, Kentucky

“As I’ve said for years, the sponsors are the true heroes of the Children Incorporated program. It is amazing to think that strangers care enough about a child — a child they have never, and most likely will never, meet — to send help. I hope sponsors realize that the friendships and bonds they create with these children are just as valuable as their monetary donations. Children Incorporated and its sponsors are changing the world one child at a time.”

– Stacy, West Virginia

“We would like to thank the sponsors for their support. All children want to know they’re cared about, and I can tell you that you have provided these children with lots of smiles. The Children Incorporated program has given our students a huge sense of pride as well as the knowledge that someone cares. Parents come in and say, ‘I appreciate the sponsorship so much.’ I’m surprised at how much people are willing to give, especially to children they’ve never seen in person. My words of thanks fall way short of conveying how important sponsors are in these kids’ lives.”

– Wally, North Carolina

Four-Star Rating with Charity Navigator for the Fourth Year in a Row

We are proud to announce Children Incorporated has earned our fourth consecutive 4-star rating with Charity Navigator!

Charity Navigator is an independent American charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States. The four-star rating is the highest possible rating that an organization can receive from Charity Navigator, and it shows that Children Incorporated adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way.

Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Children Incorporated exceeds industry standards and demonstrates our trustworthiness to the public. We believe in full transparency of our financial management and are grateful to be recognized for our dedication as stewards of your generosity.

Sincerely yours,

Ronald H. Carter President and CEO

Congratulations to our Higher Education Fund Recipient, Sarah!

We want to give huge congratulations to Sarah, one of our amazing sponsored children and Higher Education Program participants. Sarah recently graduated from college with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.

Sarah writes:

“Children Incorporated has been a part of my life since I was in kindergarten. They have helped my family and me through difficult times. I have received many packages and letters that have supplied me with new clothes and great memories. Also, I received help to get me through college when I did not know if I would be able to go or not. If it were not for Children Incorporated or the sponsors that fund this great organization, I would not have had the same childhood or college experience. I want to express my gratitude and say thank you to everyone who has helped me.”

We are very proud of you, Sarah!

*Name changed to protect the child.

Insufficient Food for Growing Kids

As the name suggests, Cannonsburg Elementary is located in the isolated and rural town of Cannonsburg, Kentucky in Boyd County. Like many of Kentucky’s Eastern Coal Field communities, Cannonsburg has suffered dramatically from the decline of the coal mining industry.

At the height of the coal operations, Boyd County was an essential and active port city for the transport of coal along the Ohio River. Today, many of its residents live in abject poverty. Illiteracy and high dropout rates are significant problems in this area.

Ruth and Renée in Cannonsburg Elementary School’s Resource Center

Fortunately for children living in Boyd County, Cannonsburg Elementary School provides them with a beautiful and bright learning space and a welcome distraction from the struggles that their families face. But even though children don’t have to think about the hardships in their lives during school hours, the reality is that they often return home to empty refrigerators and cabinets with no food on the weekends.

A lot of children in need

According to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, Cannonsburg Elementary School serves 276 children in Pre-K through 5th grade.

Even though children don’t have to think about the hardships in their lives during school hours, the reality is that they often return home to empty refrigerators and cabinets with no food on the weekends.

On a recent visit to the school, our volunteer coordinator, Ruth, told Renée that she has over 80 of those children in attendance on her Weekend Backpack Feeding Program. Ruth is sure that without the program, these children would have little or no food to eat on Saturdays and Sundays when they are not at school where they receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch.

This is a harsh reality for many children in our program all over the United States. But thankfully, because of dedicated volunteer coordinators like Ruth, sponsored and unsponsored children in our program can rely on weekly food bags to take home on Friday afternoons that ensure they are being fed when not in school.

A struggling family

Ruth sends food from the food pantry home with dozens of children every weekend.

During her time at Cannonsburg Elementary School, Renée had a chance to meet two brothers who are benefiting from our sponsorship program and the Resource Center’s Weekend Backpack Feeding Program.

Carter and Josiah* are two of seven children in their family, ranging in ages from three to nineteen years old. Their parents are separated, and Carter and Josiah’s mom — who works full time at McDonald’s — is mainly raising the children alone.

Ruth describes their mother as responsible and loving to her children, but it is tough for her to provide for everything they need. The Weekend Backpack Feeding Program helps them a lot — as do Carter and Josiah’s sponsors.

Ruth also mentioned to Renée she is planning on enrolling more of their siblings in our program so they can have sponsors too that can provide for their basic needs.

*Names changed to protect the children.

***

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD