Tag Archives: education

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

We love receiving letters from our volunteer coordinators because they offer such amazing insight into how our sponsors are helping children in need around the world. Today, we share a letter from Jessica at Piney Creek Elementary School about how she is able to help her students, all thanks to our supporters.

“Without Children Incorporated, our students face low confidence, shame, and embarrassment from not having the items that they need.”

Jessica’s Letter

“The 2022-2023 school year has been a grateful return to normal after the uncertainties and changes presented by the global pandemic. We have seen tremendous growth and success in our students as they settle back into a routine. Piney Creek School strives to provide fun and engaging learning experiences for our students to cultivate a passion for continued learning and to give students an opportunity to be empowered, successful, and self-directed learners. The funds provided by Children Incorporated assist us in helping students to reach their fullest potential so that they are successful in high school, college and beyond.”

“This year, Piney Creek School has served 39 students through Children Incorporated. While this is a decrease since last year, our small school and community continues to grow and prosper as we focus on providing our students and their families’ needs. The total of 39 breaks down further to 18 males and 21 females. Several of our Children Incorporated students come from single parent homes, are raised by grandparents, or are in foster care. We are excited to share that this school year, Children Incorporated has allowed these 39 students to receive book fair books, school pictures, food, clothing, hygiene items, and so much more!”

Our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, is pictured with one of our sponsored children at Piney Creek Elementary School.

“Piney Creek School is proud to recognize students for their academic achievements throughout the school year through BETA club for seventh and eighth grade students. This year, the BETA Club induction included new Children Incorporated student Suzanne*, who is a phenomenal student and a great addition to our small school. Our BETA coordinator also submitted poems written by several of our Children Incorporated students to a national contest, and their poems were selected to be published. Two other Children Incorporated students, Sarah and Becka*, were also part of the Battle of the Books team that won the Battle of Books competition, reclaiming the trophy this year.”

“Middle school students at Piney Creek look forward to learning about our environment and ecosystem each year. Through Piney Creek Schools’ science classes, the Soil and Water Conservation District provided students with the opportunity to compete at the county level through essays, posters, and speeches to display their knowledge and understanding of our environment compared to other schools in the area. Students are judged at the school level and then move on to the county level to compete against other schools in the same district before moving on to regionals. Children Incorporated student Sarah placed 3rd in the local Soil and Water Conservation contest this year. She was also a Patriot’s Pen Essay Winner for her essay entitled ‘How are you inspired by America?’.”

“The staff, students, and community here at Piney Creek School are truly grateful for Children Incorporated and the numerous opportunities provided each year.”

“While we are so proud of our Children Incorporated students at Piney Creek School for their academic accomplishments, we are also tremendously touched by the opportunities that some of our students received through the Children Incorporated program. This year we have also added a new program at Piney Creek School titled ‘PCS Care Kits.’ Every month, we send home an order form with our Children Incorporated students that lists various hygienic supplies the students may need. Upon their return, we pack bags with essentials like hairbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, shampoo and much more based on their selections. The first month of the program, we packed 31 bags to send home with students.”

“Without the funds provided by Children Incorporated and their sponsors, our small school would not have the means to bestow these resources to our Children Incorporated families. The mother of Children Incorporated students Whitney and Layla* expressed to me how much receiving the hygienic products each month means to her family. We are able to spread a sense of hope, comfort and confidence through the program. None of this could be accomplished without the donations of Children Incorporated sponsors.”

“Without Children Incorporated, our students face low confidence, shame, and embarrassment from not having the items that they need. Some children would be unable to wear clean, new, and well-fitting clothes to school, have a new book bag packed with supplies to start the year, lack proper hygiene, and even be without food or snacks. The staff, students, and community here at Piney Creek School are truly grateful for Children Incorporated and the numerous opportunities provided each year.”

Sincerely,
Jessica

*Names have been changed to protect the children.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD WITH CHILDREN INCORPORATED?

 You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated 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 donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

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

Today we hear from our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, about her trip to New Mexico last fall, where she and our Assistant Director of U.S. Programs, Kristen Walthall, visited nine affiliated sites.

Understanding Navajo Nation

“The Navajo are the largest Native American tribe in the United States. The Navajo Nation also has the largest land mass of any tribe. The nation is located in the greater ‘Four Corners’ region of the United States, where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet in a quadripoint, the only place in the U.S. where this occurs,” said Renée.

“The entire school has worked hard to showcase to the community the advantages of a smaller school where the children get more personal attention.”

“Children Incorporated’s affiliations within the Navajo Nation are located in Arizona and New Mexico. The lands within the northeastern part of Arizona area belong wholly to the Navajo Nation, with the exception of a part carved out for the Hopi Nation. However, the lands within the northwestern New Mexico area belong to a variety of jurisdictions: federal, state, tribal, private, and allotment. This is why the Navajo region in New Mexico is popularly called ‘The Checkerboard.’ As Kris and I were driving in this part of New Mexico, we were going in and out of various parts of the checkerboard.”

“In recent years, the Navajo Nation has been working hard to (among other things) formally enroll its residents as Navajo citizens. There are requirements to formal enrollment in a tribe, with the intention of preserving the unique character and traditions of each tribe. The tribes establish their own membership criteria based on shared customs, language, traditions, and tribal blood. These criteria for membership are set forth in the tribes’ constitutions, articles of incorporation and/or ordinances. Uniform membership requirements do not exist; it varies from tribe to tribe,” explained Renée.

Jeanette and Veronica are pictured with some of our sponsored children at Lake Valley Boarding School.

“The enrollment numbers matter, not only for emotional reasons such as tribal identity and history, but for practical reasons — tribes are often allocated money based on their number of enrolled citizens. Before the pandemic, the Navajo enrollment was around 306,000 people. During the pandemic membership drive, the Navajo Nation was able to have many residents formally establish their eligibility and then to enroll. By 2021, the Navajo’s tribal rolls had grown to almost 400,000 persons. With this achievement, the Navajo Nation surpassed the Cherokee Nation (whose enrollment is 392,000 people). A recent example of the importance of enrollment numbers is the money awarded to tribes, based on their enrollment numbers, from the federal CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.”

“Every amount of assistance helps, because according to a special article in 2019 by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the state had the third highest rate of child poverty in the U.S. (24.9%). This means nearly one in four New Mexico children lived in poverty in 2019. Only Mississippi and Louisiana were higher. When analyzing the data by ethnicity, the rate for Native Americans was higher than for all other groups. During the pandemic, things actually got a bit better for families, due to federal relief payments. Now that the pandemic relief has ended, the situation is worsening again. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2023 Kids Count databook shows that New Mexico’s children rank last in the nation for well-being. The poverty rate is high, and New Mexico also ranked last in education and 45th in health,” said Renée.

About Lake Valley Boarding School

“The remote town of Crownpoint is located in northwestern New Mexico, near the Arizona border and the vast Navajo Indian Reservation. Despite the wealth of natural beauty in this area, the Navajo Indians who live in this region are desperately poor. There is virtually no employment. Broken homes, alcoholism, and inadequate food are constant manifestations of poverty.”

“Both expressed their deep appreciation for the Hope In Action Program grants that Lake Valley Navajo School received during the height of the pandemic.”

“Though one of the smaller schools in the Bureau of Indian Affairs system, the Lake Valley Boarding School provides a safe haven where Navajo students, whose homes are far away, are able to live and learn in a healthy, supportive environment. Most parents struggle to afford clothing, school supplies, and basic necessities for their children. Were it not for the Lake Valley Boarding School, so many children would have little opportunity to dream or to rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come,” explained Renée.

Renee’s Visit

“With a name like ‘Lake Valley,’ one would expect water and green grass, but that is not the case. The lake dried up years ago and is largely a sand trap now. The elders remember when the lake was full, there were farm fields, and two active trading posts. In the olden days, Lake Valley was a stagecoach stop between Crownpoint and Farmington, and the lake and a spring offered cool water to travelers and their horses.”

“The community is only seven miles from the famous Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Residents dream of drawing in tourists with an RV park and a little restaurant. But for now, improvements are still only a dream. In reality, due to budget cuts, services to this area are very limited. Community health representatives have had to reduce their visits to homebound elders. Young families had been leaving, and it got worse during the pandemic,” said Renée.

The front entrance of the school where Renée was greeted by our volunteer coordinators.

“After going down a dirt and gravel driveway, I reached a small cluster of buildings with pretty trees planted to provide some shade for everyone. I walked to the main entrance at Lake Valley Navajo School — Home of the Mighty Lakers. I was warmly greeted by our two co-coordinators, Jeanette and Veronica, and taken to the library for a meeting. They explained to me that they drive almost 60 miles north to shop in Farmington. They like to go either to Walmart or to J. C. Penney, which has really good sales. They meet the parents there, and pay for the items after the parents and children have made their selections. Sometimes they drive about 35 miles south to Crownpoint, which has a Basha’s grocery store where they will occasionally purchase food for families in need. Both Jeanette and Veronica are very conscientious about getting the best value for every donor dollar.” 

Adjusting since the pandemic

“Both Veronica and Jeanette shared that during the pandemic, they lost even more of their students. In some cases, families moved from the area. But in other cases, the parents felt their children would have more services at the bigger schools in Farmington. The Farmington United School District school buses will actually drive halfway to Lake Valley to pick up and drop off the children,” said Renée.

“The entire school has worked hard to showcase to the community the advantages of a smaller school where the children get more personal attention. In fact, Jeanette and Veronica shared that one of the students had withdrawn at the end of last school year. The girl started the new school year in August at Farmington USD, but she was not happy, and so her parents re-enrolled her this week at Lake Valley. Her classmates had missed her, and they were thrilled to welcome her back.”

“Both Jeanette and Veronica were hired to work in the dorm. However, during the pandemic the dorm was shut down when the school went on fully remote instruction. Because some staff left during the pandemic, this created openings so that
Jeanette and Veronica didn’t lose their jobs. They were instead transferred to other duties. This year the dorm has reopened, but there are only five children living there during the school week. Jeanette and Veronica take turns staying there overnight, but they do other things for the school to keep up their full-time hours. Both are hoping more children will be enrolled in the dorm over time, as things continue a slow return to normal there,” explained Renée.

“As the dorm starts to add more residential students, Jeanette and Veronica said they will be applying for Hope In Action Program funding for new bedding sets as well as hygiene items and supplies.”

“When the pandemic started and the dorm shut down, Jeanette and Veronica gave away much of the bedding to the children as they were checked out. They realized that, due to policies on infection, the bedding could not be reused. As the dorm starts to add more residential students, Jeanette and Veronica said they will be applying for Hope In Action Program funding for new bedding sets as well as hygiene items and supplies. Both expressed their deep appreciation for the Hope In Action Program grants that Lake Valley Navajo School received during the height of the pandemic. While the school and dorm were closed and the children were doing remote learning in their homes, our organization helped with cellular service and hotspot boxes,” said Renée.

“This is the second school year that school is supposedly back to normal with fully in-person instruction. But many of the families have not returned. There are only 22 students enrolled at Lake Valley Navajo School – and everyone is enrolled in our program and is sponsored. Jeanette and Veronica are doing a beautiful job. They are eager to enroll more children, as more families move to the community.”

***

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 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