Tag Archives: education

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Escaping a Poor Education

In the town of Santa Tecla, located six miles west of El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, our affiliated project, the Marillac School is providing children with the opportunity to receive an education — and a quality one at that.

Communities and schools around the world face barriers in providing children with a quality education.

Founded in 1940 by the Sisters of the Order of St. Vincent de Paul, the school serves as not only an escape from the harsh realities local students face growing up in poverty but an escape from poor public education or no education at all.

Considered a semi-private institution, the administrators of the Marillac School — with sponsorship support from the Children Incorporated program — work hard to ensure that kids are receiving basic needs and the best education that they can provide. This gives our sponsored and unsponsored children the opportunity to succeed.

What constitutes poor education?

Children at the Marillac School

Communities and schools around the world face barriers to providing children with a quality education. Lack of adequate funding to educational institutions can lead to overcrowded classrooms with little or no resources for students. Untrained teachers, lack of proper food and improper classroom facilities can also significantly affect children’s ability to learn.

The consequences of an inadequate education

What are the consequences of an inadequate education? Poor education can lead to illiteracy. It also inhibits children from qualifying for higher education or being prepared to join the workforce later in life. Children who aren’t properly education tend to be less healthy than those who do and are susceptible to turning towards crime and remaining in poverty in adulthood.

A better chance at a future

For impoverished children around the world, like those at the Marallic School, the benefits of quality education are tremendous.

Higher quality of education are associated with positive outcomes such as better health and well-being and a greater interest in politics and social issues. Students who attend quality schools gain a competitive advantage at getting jobs upon graduation, which can lead to a higher income and the chance for a family to break the cycle of poverty. Quality education also can discourage crime because when educated, children feel a sense of hope and opportunity for a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones.

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How do I sponsor a child in El Salvador?

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

Backpacks Full of Food to the Rescue

Boyd County Middle School is located in the isolated and rural town of Cannonsburg, Kentucky.

When children don’t eat enough, it can shorten their attention span, lower their IQ and keep them from performing well in school.

Like many of Kentucky’s Eastern Coal Field communities, Cannonsburg has suffered significantly 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 dismal poverty. Illiteracy and high dropout rates are significant problems in the area.

Thankfully, students at Boyd County Middle School have caring teachers and staff that work hard to motivate and educate them so that they can graduate and become successful members of their community.

A newly renovated school

Not only do students at the school have a supportive group of administrators to help them, but according to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, they also have newly renovated school buildings to enjoy.

Unfortunately, for many children living in poverty, their only meals of the day can often be those they receive at school.

On a recent visit to Boyd County Middle School, Renée marveled at the new entrance façade, energy efficient windows, improved access to the gym and a new bus loading/unloading area designed to help with traffic congestion during peak times — all updates from the last time she visited the school a few years ago.

A lack of adequate food at home

While at the school, Renée also got a chance to meet with our volunteer coordinator, Vicki. Vicki told Renée that Boyd County Middle School serves 729 students in sixth through eighth grades. Fifty-seven percent of those children come from low-income families. These children often come to school without proper clothes, shoes and school supplies. Many of them don’t have adequate food at home either.

“Vicki expressed to me that her biggest need is for more help with her Weekend Backpack Food Program, which is currently assisting over 100 children,” said Renée.

Why is backpack feeding necessary?

Sending children home on Friday afternoons with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food ensures that they get enough food on weekends and holidays when they can’t rely on a getting a nutritious meal at school.

Unfortunately, lack of food in the home for families living in poverty is an issue that many children in the United States face. According to Feeding America’s website, “Twenty-two million children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program. For many of these children, school meals may be the only meals they eat.”

Roughly 13 million kids in America today don’t have enough food to eat on the weekends. One in five kids in our country goes without access to affordable, nutritious food on Saturdays and Sundays. Lack of adequate food leads to health problems in addition to hunger. When children don’t eat enough, it can shorten their attention span, lower their IQ and keep them from performing well in school.

Because of these harsh realities, backpack feeding programs like Vicki’s at Boyd County Middle School are crucial for children. Sending children home on Friday afternoons with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food ensures that they get enough food on weekends and holidays when they can’t rely on a getting a nutritious meal at school.

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HOW DO I SUPPORT BACKPACK FEEDING PROGRAMS IN THE U.S.?

Our U.S. Feeding Program provides support for Backpack Feeding Programs at our affiliated projects. To donate, call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org or visit https://childrenincorporated.org/u-s-feeding-programs/ to make an online donation.

A Thank-You to Our Supporters

I will never forget the first time I visited the offices of Children Incorporated. It was on a Monday in February of 2003, a day that became one of the most significant in my life. That was the day that I was hired as Assistant Director to the U.S. Programs Division of Children Incorporated.

I clearly recall the sense of deep gratitude I experienced upon being hired to work at Children Incorporated, and through the years as I have moved from one position to another, my thankfulness has only grown.

I had worked for another, much larger child sponsorship organization for nearly twelve years, and I was happy there. I had hoped to stay with that company for the remainder of my career, doing work that was beneficial to children and families around the world. Yet in August of 2002, without warning, my position and those of several of my co-workers were eliminated. I was stunned to lose a job I loved, and for several months, I sought without success to find another place to work and to serve.

An extraordinary moment

Then, on a Sunday evening that February 2003, as I was attending church, something quite extraordinary happened. I asked the church to pray for me in my efforts to find a job. After the service ended, a man who seemed familiar walked up to me and began a conversation. He explained that he had at one time also worked for my former employer, and he recalled meeting me there. Then, he said, “You should call Children Incorporated, the place where I work now. They may have something for you,” and he gave me the number of then-President and Chief Executive Officer, Marian Cummins.

I called Mrs. Cummins the next morning, and she couldn’t have been nicer. She invited me to come in for an interview that same day. I went and was greeted by not only Mrs. Cummins, but also by Jeanne Clarke Wood, the founder of Children Incorporated and two other staffers, Odell Dunavent and Helen Strathy. I was hired on the spot, and I started my position at Children Incorporated just a couple of days later.

A place to feel at home

I knew from my very first day at Children Incorporated that it was a special organization. I closely observed how the small but dedicated staff interacted with one another, and just how much work they seemed to get done. I listened as the division directors spoke with project coordinators in the field, and I was amazed to hear them referring to sponsored children by their names and not just by numbers as had been the norm at my previous place of employment.

From day one, I knew I had found my work home. The transition from a large, formal, often sterile environment to one of caring, personal connections and heartfelt dedication was a welcome change for me. I clearly recall the sense of deep gratitude I experienced upon being hired to work at Children Incorporated, and through the years as I have moved from one position to another, my thankfulness has only grown. I tell people all the time how blessed I am to work for an organization like Children Incorporated where I know that I am making a difference each and every day.

We are but the vessel through which children are fed and clothed and cared for in many diverse ways. You make all of our work possible, and I am thankful for you!

Thanks to you this Thanksgiving

You also make much more of a difference in the lives of children than you may even begin to realize. The programs Children Incorporated has established to provide assistance to youngsters functions only as a direct result of your giving. We take the dollars you provide — and with the able assistance of our network of volunteer coordinators — offer children education, hope and opportunity for their futures.

We are but the vessel through which children are fed and clothed and cared for in many diverse ways. You make all of our work possible, and I am thankful for you!

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A Culture of Giving

Participating in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been increasingly important for corporations in the last few years. Realizing the value of managing their business in ways that take into consideration how they can have an overall positive effect on society not only helps the community at large but also boosts employee morale.

For those corporations that choose to embrace CSR, such as our Partner Vonage, donating to organizations such as Children Incorporated is considered a part of their overall focus on creating a culture of giving for the entire company.

Vonage, a cloud communications provider, states on its website:

iPads and tablets were purchased for children in Arizona with funds donated by Vonage

“At Vonage, we’re committed to Doing the Right Thing — it’s one of our core values. The importance of being a good corporate citizen, and empowering our employees to be charitable and giving in their own lives, is a big part of the culture here. With a focus on charities and organizations that improve the lives of children and families in need, we love the feeling we get when our efforts make a difference.”

Offering support in the U.S. and abroad

After Vonage contacted our President and CEO Ron Carter about a potential partnership, Ron visited Vonage Headquarters in Holmdel, New Jersey, to discuss how they could support the work of Children Incorporated.

“First, I met with five members of the Vonage Foundation Board of Directors, all of whom were extremely interested in the work of Children Incorporated. Because Vonage works both within the United States and abroad, it was determined that they would support our U.S. Programs as well as international projects in South Korea, where Vonage has offices,” said Ron.

“The importance of being a good corporate citizen, and empowering our employees to be charitable and giving in their own lives, is a big part of the culture here.”

Once they agreed on which projects to support, Vonage quickly sent a check for nearly $49,000 in initial support to help children in need around the world. Thanks to Vonage, in 2018 and 2019, Children Incorporated was able to:

–    Sponsor 25 children in the United States for three years
–    Sponsor 20 children in Korea for three years
–    Purchase iPads and tablets and install security lights for St. Michael’s School for Special Education in Arizona

We are incredibly grateful to the Vonage Foundation and all Vonage employees for their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and their dedication to helping children living in poverty receive educational support.

Thank you, Vonage Foundation!