Tag Archives: help children

Visiting Navajo Country

The To’Hajiilee (pronounced “toe-HA-ji-lee”) Community School is located in northern New Mexico in the area around Cañoncito. This school is typical of those that serve Navajo children in the United States and are funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs – except for one thing: it is far removed from the vast Navajo Nation, which spills from Arizona into New Mexico and Utah. Though not a part of the Nation, this area is still considered “Navajo Country,” where a few sheep graze against a landscape of barren desert relieved by occasional flat-topped mesas.

Despite the wealth of natural beauty and rich cultural heritage there, the Navajos who live in and around Cañoncito are desperately poor. There is virtually no employment. Broken homes, alcoholism, and an inadequate amount of food are manifestations of the poverty in which they live. For this reason, the To’Hajiilee Community School serves as a beacon of hope for children. At the school, each child receives nutritious meals, encouragement, and a quality education – giving the students there the opportunity to rise above the difficult economic circumstances from which they come.

The reality of poverty in New Mexico

Katrina does not know what she would do without the Children Incorporated program, which provides warm clothing during winter months, shoes, school supplies, medical supplies, and food items for kids.

According to Poverty USA, an organization that tracks and reports on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, New Mexico ranks 49th in poverty out of fifty states. The child poverty rate there is 30.1 percent. The U.S. Census reports that the critical poverty rates in New Mexico are concentrated among the American Indian population there. More than half of all adults in the Navajo Nation – 56 percent – are unemployed. While education is often seen as the key to reducing poverty, only 25 percent of Navajo adults have at least the equivalent of a high school education.

The Kids Count Data Center for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, another organization that tracks poverty levels, reports that intervening during childhood is key in breaking the cycle of poverty. The center’s data indicates that collaborative efforts are more likely to bear fruit – and New Mexico has begun an initiative to tackle childhood hunger.

The National School Lunch Program, which ensures that children eat a nutritional meal during the school day, is a big help; but still many children go home to inadequate food supplies on nights, weekends, and holidays. Experts say that another way to combat poverty is to improve educational opportunities for children. Children who pertain to minority groups are often hit the hardest by poverty, and New Mexico’s American Indian population is heavily impacted by it.

Drawing Water from a Well

The To’Hajiilee Community School serves pre-kindergarten students up to adult education. Built in the 1960s, it consists of several buildings and a gym. The school has an enrollment of over 300 students. It is approximately one hour west of Albuquerque. “To’Hajiilee” translates to “Drawing Water from a Well” in English. The well to which the name refers is located in a canyon just west of the school.

U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, recently met with our Volunteer Coordinator Katrina at the To’Hajiilee Community School. Katrina is the Director of Family Engagement at the school, and this past year was her first full year of managing the Children Incorporated program. She is supported by the staff of the school and Elayne, her supervisor.

At the beginning of the school year, Katrina sent a survey to students’ parents that requested shoe and clothing sizes for their kids, as well as a list of needs with check boxes to select next to them. Katrina used the completed surveys to shop for the students based on the answers, and she had their parents pick her purchases up. She tries to be discreet; she doesn’t want the kids to be labeled as the poorest in the school, causing them to feel embarrassed or ostracized. She said that most every family at the school needs the program, but she tries to enroll the children whose families she knows to be the neediest.

Katrina does not know what she would do without the Children Incorporated program, which provides warm clothing during winter months, shoes, school supplies, medical supplies, and food items for kids. She says that the sponsored children benefit very much, and that she loves it when sponsors are even more involved, and write letters and send packages to their sponsored kids.

As we continue our partnership with Katrina and the To’Hajiilee Community School, according to Shelley, we see our programs supporting the children’s health and education beyond our sponsorship program. After visiting the school, Shelley considered the opportunity for our Hope In Action Fund to contribute to school gardens and markets, which will tackle some food scarcity issues for both sponsored and unsponsored kids.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN NEW MEXICO?

You can sponsor a child in New Mexico 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.

From Sponsored Child to Doctor

Our Higher Education Fund has helped hundreds of children over the years to receive an education beyond high school. Without the support of this special fund, many sponsored children who graduate from high school in the United States or abroad would not have the opportunity to pursue a higher education, whether through vocational training, college or certification courses, or in some cases, master’s or doctoral programs.

Avi is receiving support, thanks to our Higher Education Fund.

Avi* is a young man from India who had a wonderful sponsor from elementary to high school through Children Incorporated. After he graduated, Avi was no longer supported by our sponsorship program; but he expressed to our volunteer coordinator that he wanted to continue on to higher education studies, and pursue a degree in pharmacy. His coordinator then asked Children Incorporated to continue supporting Avi, because he was a good student with great potential; and we agreed that his enthusiasm and interest in furthering his education were valuable.

A chance at a brighter future

Children Incorporated provided support to Avi through our Higher Education Fund, and he enrolled in a college in Guntur, in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, near the village where he grew up. He is now in his fifth year of university, and will finish his practicum this year. Avi has not yet finished his classes, but he has already been offered a position at a local hospital, thanks to his high academic marks.

As you can imagine, we are very proud of Avi and all his accomplishments. Without the support of his sponsor or donations from our dedicated contributors to our Higher Education Fund, Avi might never have had the chance to establish a career path through higher education, nor would he have had this chance at an even brighter future.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA?

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

Beyond Sponsorship

We meet a wide array of needs for children and their families through our Hope In Action Fund, which provides support outside of sponsorship. From providing aid in the wake of emergencies to supporting weekend and summer feeding programs, individual, one-­time donations to this special fund really go a long way. They support income-generating projects, and they go towards the construction of homes and schools – and even medical clinics at our affiliated projects. As a way to show our appreciation for your support, we want to share just some of the many amazing accomplishments we were able to make in 2017, thanks to your contributions to our Hope In Action Fund.

Helping kids in the united states

Last year, our Hope In Action Fund provided continued assistance for a combined College/Career Awareness and Parent Resource Program at our affiliated project Carr Creek Elementary School in Kentucky. The fund also aided our volunteer coordinator at Lucy Ellen Moten Elementary School in Washington, D.C. in the development of a mentoring program. Thanks to your contributions, we were able to provide additional resources in New Orleans, Louisiana, which included aid for an after-school program, uniforms for children whose families could not afford them, and 500 books distributed at three literacy events during the year to increase a love of reading and to help build the home libraries of 500 children.

Kids in Kentucky have benefited greatly from our Hope In Action Fund.

Our Hope In Action Fund also provided backpacks and school supplies for “Readifests” at several of our Kentucky schools to support kids at the start of the school year. Funds enabled the entire student body of Bevins Elementary School in Kentucky, including children enrolled in our program, to benefit from an educational drug awareness and personal resiliency program. Additionally, our Hope In Action Fund provided opportunities for our sponsored and unsponsored children at Sparta Elementary School in North Carolina to attend cultural and educational performances outside of their community – experiences that they otherwise would not have had.

Donations also offered disaster relief for children impacted by serious flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Thanks to you, we were able to provide canned hams, canned vegetables, and boxed food for Thanksgiving for children at our newest project in Richmond, Virginia, E.S.H. Greene Elementary School. We were also able to pay for a young girl in Kentucky to have a much-needed eye exam, and to replace her broken glasses, improving her vision so that she’d have less difficulty keeping up in class.

Thanks to you, we were able to establish a weekend feeding program at Shonto Preparatory School in Arizona on the Navajo Reservation, as well as provide assistance for a partial denture for a high school student in Kentucky who suffered an accident that caused him to lose his four front teeth. We were also able to address food insecurity by supporting weekend feeding programs and monthly markets of fresh fruits and vegetables at our four affiliated projects in Washington, D.C. We assisted three children enrolled in our program at Piney Creek Elementary School in North Carolina to attend and participate in the Junior Beta Club State Convention in Greensboro.

We couldn’t help with such simple but powerful things without our sponsors’ and donors’ contributions to our Hope In Action Fund.

Our Hope In Action Fund also provided a complete professional outfit for a high-achieving student at Greyhills Academy High School in Arizona so that she could advance and compete in the Navajo Nation Science Fair in Window Rock. Donations gave us the ability to help a little boy at Johns Creek Elementary School in Kentucky to be transported to and from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, by providing funds for gas and food, so that he could undergo additional procedures following his open-heart surgery.

Donations enabled 25 children at Johnson County Middle School in Paintsville, Kentucky, including children enrolled in our program, to attend and learn at the Summer Scrubs Camp at the Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg. Additionally, we were able to purchase playground equipment for the kids at G.H. Reid Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia.

Supporting kids internationally

Outside of the United States, last year, our Hope In Action Fund provided over a thousand pairs of new shoes to children in need in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We also made a contribution to the Materi Girls’ School in Meru, Kenya for the purchase of food for the families of the children who attend, who were suffering due to a terrible drought. We provided support to Guarderia El Angel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia to pay a few teachers’ salaries when the center lost funding from its local municipality. We also completed eight housing units near our affiliated project Villa Emilia in Bolivia to help the mothers of children enrolled in our program, who were formerly living on the streets.

We couldn’t help with such simple but powerful things without our sponsors’ and donors’ contributions to our Hope In Action Fund. Every contribution impacts a specific child or family – and oftentimes, it is life-changing for them. We are incredibly grateful that we have the ability to provide for children and their families beyond sponsorship, especially in circumstances that are dire, and in which they have nowhere else to turn for help. Thanks to you, thousands of children and their families are getting the support they need every year.

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HOW DO I CONTRIBUTE TO THE HOPE IN ACTION FUND?

You can contribute to our Hope In Action Fund 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 donate to our Hope In Action Fund.

Combating Feelings of Desperation

Menifee County High School is located in rural Menifee County, in the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield. With the continuing decline of the coal mining industry in recent years, and due to a lack of other industries in the area, Menifee County residents struggle in the wake of diminishing job opportunities. The problems that affect many areas of the Appalachian region of the United States, including unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse, have begun to take their toll on Menifee County as well. As a result, not only do parents living in poverty feel depressed and hopeless, but sometimes their children do, too.

Homework plays a key role in education

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Melanie, with a few students who are wearing their school color proudly

Many Menifee County High School parents didn’t finish high school themselves, and their lack of education keeps them from obtaining any of the few well-paying jobs that do exist in the area – which causes them to feel more desperate. Oftentimes, they can’t even begin to imagine a way out of their situation. It’s not surprising, because many of them are uneducated, undereducated, or are battling depression or substance abuse; in these instances, they are usually either absent from their children’s lives, or they’re unable to help them with their homework.

Thankfully, however, Menifee County High School provides a well-rounded education for students, including those who come from impoverished families in which education and literacy are not always top priorities.

Menifee Matters

Menifee County High School serves grades nine through twelve. The high school has an old section that is slightly run-down, but it is attached to a large, new, modern addition. Our volunteer coordinator at the school is Melanie, and she is very attuned to both our sponsored and unsponsored kids’ personal issues. She knows the students well, and is familiar with their home lives, as she makes frequent home visits to check on families that she feels might need additional emotional or psychological support.

This may not seem like much, but just as our sponsorship program does, showing kids that they matter enriches their lives profoundly.

Melanie is aware that, because of difficult home lives in which kids are forced to deal with drug- or alcohol-addicted parents, many of the children in her care feel isolated and hopeless as they struggle with traumatic circumstances daily. To combat feelings of desperation, Melanie, along with other school administrators, started an initiative called Menifee Matters, so that students feel seen, noticed, and cared for. It started simply by providing students with magnetized name labels with which they could decorate their lockers. Then, each student received a Menifee Matters T-shirt. At the beginning of the school year, teachers wrote notes to their students to welcome each one back to school personally. They are small gestures, but Melanie says they make a difference for the kids.

This may not seem like much, but just as our sponsorship program does, showing kids that they matter enriches their lives profoundly. When a child knows that someone cares about them – when they might not always think that about people at home – they may be less likely to feel so alone or desperate. Encouraging children to feel good about themselves goes a very long way in helping them with their self-esteem, and it makes them feel like they are important, which can give them the confidence they need to succeed in school.

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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.

Schools Working Together to Help Kids

Lewis County has the unfortunate distinction of having consistently ranked as number one in unemployment among Kentucky’s counties since 1999. That year, the county’s top employer, a shoe factory, closed its doors and left many residents without a means to provide for their families. Other companies, including a cabinet business and a fiberglass company, closed as well. With these additional closures, Lewis County became even more economically depressed. Dismal poverty and drug abuse have since plagued the area.

Thankfully, children have the Lewis County Middle and High Schools’ teachers and administration, as well as the Family Resource and Youth Services Center and Children Incorporated Volunteer Coordinator, Scott, to rely on.

Scott, who oversees both schools, works closely with his colleagues and with parents to help encourage kids to overcome the obstacles they face living in an impoverished environment. Being able to work with kids starting in middle school, and maintaining contact with them through high school, means that Scott can help kids focus on their education for many years, and he can help them set goals that he’ll be able to support all the way up to graduation – and sometimes even beyond.

Being able to work with kids starting in middle school, and maintaining contact with them through high school, means that Scott can help kids focus on their education for many years.

Kids need more as they grow

The Lewis County Middle and High Schools share one Family Resource and Youth Services Center, where Scott met with our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, recently. The total number of students enrolled in the schools is about 750. Scott has one assistant, Sue, and because they have a very heavy workload, they stay incredibly busy ensuring that the students have the resources they need. Despite his hectic schedule, during Renée’s visit, Scott took the time to set up a tour of both schools, and meetings with sponsored students, as well as with some parents.

First, Renée and Scott met with Lydia, a loving and responsible mother who has a wonderfully positive outlook on life. Lydia and her husband have seven children. The eldest, Dianna*, is in the seventh grade, and has a sponsor through our program. Her daughter Brittany* is currently waiting to be sponsored. Lydia told Renée that as the children get older and are starting to enter middle school, they are growing fast, and are in need of more clothes and food than before, which is expensive for the family. Lydia’s husband is a self-employed construction laborer. His employment is erratic, so he doesn’t make enough to provide everything the family needs. Lydia said that she and her husband decided she needed to get a job, which made her nervous at first, because it meant that she would have to be away from her youngest child, Erin*, who is only a baby.

When Lydia was hired as a custodian at a nearby hospital in Morehead, Kentucky, she began paying a neighbor to babysit Erin while she was at work. Having to pay for childcare means Lydia doesn’t have a lot left over from her paychecks – but her job does help. Lydia is grateful for Dianna’s sponsor, and for the opportunity for Brittany to also get sponsored, because every little bit helps the family make ends meet, and helps keep her and her husband from worrying so much.

A dream of going to college

Renée (right) met with sponsored kids’ parents, such as Victoria, on her visit, thanks to Scott.

Renée also got the chance to meet Victoria. Victoria and her husband are raising a son and two daughters. One of their daughters, Sandra*, attended Lewis County Middle School, and is now at the high school. Victoria’s husband is a welder at construction jobs when work is available – but it is not steady. Victoria told Renée that Sandra is very bright and gets excellent grades. She said that Sandra dreams of going to college, and Victoria is pushing her to apply; but the family will need some additional financial support for tuition costs. Scott has known Sandra for a long time, and he feels that she would be an excellent candidate for the Children Incorporated Higher Education Program, which helps high school graduates to continue with their education.

Finally, Scott called in a bright and high-achieving student that he wanted Renée to meet. Leslie* is in the eleventh grade. She is the second of four children in her family. Scott said Leslie’s older sister used to be enrolled in our sponsorship program. She is now attending Morehead State University on scholarships and student loans. The two youngest kids are twins who are in the seventh grade, and who are also enrolled in our sponsorship program. Their mother is a nurse who receives little child support, but is doing an excellent job of raising her children. Scott said that the girls are polite, active in school, and that they try hard academically. He wants to recommend Leslie for our Higher Education Program as well so that she may receive some additional help when she graduates.

It is important for Children Incorporated to have affiliated partners like the Lewis County Middle and High Schools, as well as volunteer coordinators like Scott, who can help children strive and overcome adversity year after year, until they graduate – and sometimes even beyond. When schools work closely together as children make the transition from middle to high, and then on to higher education, these close-knit relationships and people like Scott ensure that children grow up with opportunities for the long-term.

*Children’s names changed for their protection.

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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.

Helping Kayla to See

When I met Kayla* while traveling last year with Children Incorporated’s U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, it was the beginning of a new school year for her. Almost right away, I noticed that she had an issue with her eyes: one of them was slightly crossed, its pupil leaning in towards her nose. When I asked our Volunteer Coordinator, Sharon, at May Valley Elementary School where Kayla attends, in Floyd County, Kentucky, if Kayla had ever had an eye exam, she told me that Kayla had worn glasses the previous year. Over the summer, however, the glasses broke, and Kayla’s family didn’t have enough money to replace them; Kayla has four siblings – two brothers and two sisters – who are also in elementary school, and Kayla’s family struggles to get by, with two parents holding low-paying jobs.

The gift of sight

Sharon mentioned to us that she was very worried about the fact that Kayla still didn’t have glasses once school started again, because she was getting headaches from trying to read the blackboard, which was keeping her from being able to concentrate in school. Sharon feared that the situation would cause Kayla to fall behind her classmates, and she knew that Kayla already faced a lot of obstacles in life coming from a family that lives in poverty. Shelley told Sharon to send a request for money from our Hope In Action Fund to get Kayla a new pair of glasses as soon as possible.

A few weeks later, Children Incorporated sent Sharon the funds to pay for an eye exam for Kayla, as well as to pay for a new pair of glasses. Now, Kayla’s health and learning are no longer affected by her eye issue, and her vision has improved. Sharon reports that Kayla has less difficulty keeping up in class now – and she even sent us a picture of a smiling Kayla to show us just how happy she is with her new glasses.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE HOPE IN ACTION FUND?

You can donate to our Hope In Action Fund 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 and make a donation on our website.