Tag Archives: help children

Removing Barriers in Eastern Kentucky

As we continue to provide support to our affiliated projects around the world amidst COVID-19, we are hearing from our volunteer coordinators about how valuable our support is at this time. Today we hear from Sandy at Bevins Elementary School in Kentucky about how donations from our donors are helping children in her community.

Removing barriers is what Children Incorporated does best.

“Dear Children Incorporated,

The mission of the Family Resources and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) is to remove any barriers that prevent the education and wellbeing of our students. Children Incorporated, along with its many sponsors,  has made this job is made so much easier. Removing barriers is what Children Incorporated does best. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus it has been a very different semester, but with Children Incorporated’s help, we have successfully supplied resources to meet our families’ needs.

Grandparents as parents

Hand sanitizer and hygiene kits are a big helping in keeping children safe and healthy.

This year, with the help of Children Incorprated Hope in Action funds, the Pike County Title I program, and a variety of different organizations, we have been able to continue to facilitate a Grandparents as Parents support group. The grandparents workshops have continued to increase in participation this year.  The program has been such a wonderful success! The grandparents were given much needed educational resources, counseling, and a lot of extra support in different areas. They were served refreshments and received hygiene items, basic need supplies, and door prizes. They feel they are so much more prepared to help educate their grandchildren thanks to this wonderful program! I can’t express enough gratitude for the help! We hope to continue to provide this wonderful program for our grandparents who have been placed in the role of parenting their grandchildren.

Thanks to the Hope in Action program and help from Children Incorporated and other community partners, we were able to facilitate our first Annual Community Baby Shower, hosted by the Belfry area FRYSC. There were different agencies on hand to give new expecting parents resources and information to help better prepare them for their new baby. Food was served, and door prizes and baby supplies were given to the expecting parents in attendance. This was a wonderful resource for the families, and we had good attendance.

Readifest and Back to School bash

Another wonderful program that wouldn’t be possible with Children Incorporated is our annual Readifest also known as our Back to School Bash.  Children Incorporated has always helped with this project. Students every year are given school supplies, hygiene products, and have access to a host of different organizations that will help them to be better prepared for the new upcoming school year. Many students would not have the much-needed resources to exceed in school without this program.

This year, due to the COVID-19 virus, we were given additional Hope In Action funds to help purchase hygiene products and items to help protect our families and students from this terrible virus.

This year, we were so pleased to once again receive Hope In Action Funds to facilitate a wonderful Reading Program during Read Across America Week. Well-known author Leigh Anne Florence and her dogs, Chloe and Woody, were able to visit our school. Many families have little or no resources to provide adequate reading materials for the students. Parents sometimes feel discouraged by the lack of self-confidence and motivational skills needed to help their children succeed. Through this program, parents and children were brought together to read and share an evening of fun-filled opportunities to become more engaged in their children’s academic needs. Writing classes were provided to third through fifth graders. These classes will play an important role in encouraging and preparing them for state assessment testing and real-world connections.

This year, due to the COVID-19 virus, we were given additional Hope In Action funds to help purchase hygiene products and items to help protect our families and students from this terrible virus.  Bevins FRC has purchased hand sanitizer and COVID-19 safety prevention kits. The kits include safety instruction for proper prevention techniques, face masks, and sanitizer. 

Throughout the school year, many of our students would not have many of the resources that they need to be successful in school if it wasn’t for Children Incorporated. Thanks to Children Incorporated, these students can excel in their education along with their classmates.

It has been a joy to work another school year with such wonderful staff and this amazing organization, Children Incorporated.

Thank you all and I look forward to working with you again this next school year!

Sandy”

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The Challenges of Home Life

Nestled in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains and steeped in a rich cultural heritage lies Wolfe County, Kentucky.

As is the case for many areas of Appalachia, Wolfe County’s natural beauty belies the abject poverty in which many of its residents live. Wolfe County carries the unfortunate distinction of being one of Kentucky’s most impoverished regions.

As is the case for many areas of Appalachia, Wolfe County’s natural beauty belies the abject poverty in which many of its residents live.

At one time, logging, tourism for nearby mineral springs, and factories employed the majority of this area’s residents. Over time, these industries vanished, leaving ghost towns, unemployment, and high poverty rates in their wake. High dropout rates and adult illiteracy only serve to fuel the cycle of poverty.

“Today, leaders and residents in Wolfe County are working hard to reimagine new opportunities to rebuild the local economy,” explains our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“One area being explored is tourism. Wolfe County is home to the outstanding Red River Gorge, a canyon system in the Red River. The gorge lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest, and it has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a National Archeological District. There are many high sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, waterfalls, and natural bridges. There is a gorge that is a popular place for rock climbers. A few small businesses have sprung up to support tourists, ranging from those selling supplies to an outstanding pizza restaurant.”

A long way to go

Regardless of the efforts, the county still has a long way to go for real economic development. Since the collapse of the coal industry, many of its families struggle with poverty, hopelessness, and addiction. Sadly, as always, the children are the most vulnerable — including those at our affiliated projects, Wolfe County Middle School and High Schools.

Per the Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Center, the county’s average child poverty rate for 2014-2018 was 38%. From 2012 to 2016, it was a wretched 55%. The improvement is not because of the county’s ability to address poverty, but because so many families have moved out in hopes of better opportunities.

Working to support kids in need

Fortunately, the Family Resource Youth Services Center at Wolfe County Middle and High Schools can help children and their families to succeed in school by minimizing or removing non-cognitive barriers to their learning.

Kids in Wolfe County are fortunate to have a volunteer coordinator like Connie to look out for their well-being.

The resource center’s offerings range from Born Learning (for infants and preschoolers) to Back to School Bashes and Ready Fests, to Red Ribbon Week (drug awareness and prevention), to recognizing and responding to violence, and to bringing partners and resources to address the children’s well-being and success.

Children Incorporated is proud to be able to partner with the Family Resource Center in Wolfe County Middle and High School. It is in these places that we hope to help children develop resilience, to graduate from high school, and eventually to break the cycle of poverty by having work that will support themselves and their own families someday,” said Renée.

Getting to meet with Connie

Wolfe County Middle and High School are side-by-side schools, and the Youth Services Centers are both run by our volunteer coordinator, Connie. The total enrollment at the middle and high school is about 600 students. Children Incorporated U.S. Programs Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, visited with Connie recently to find out more how our program is supporting her work.

“I met with Connie at the high school during my last visit to Wolfe County. Connie says she likes our sponsorship program because it helps her kids with clothing, which is very important to middle and high school kids,” expressed Shelley.

“She takes her high school students on a bus to Lexington to shop at Kohls, where the kids can pick out clothes and shoes.  She says it’s an enjoyable experience for them, and she is grateful that she can be so flexible with the program.”

Connie also told Shelley that transportation is a significant barrier for her students; many of them rely on the school bus system to get to and from school. Because of this, these students are unable to participate in any after-school programs, tutoring programs, or extracurricular activities because they do not have a way to get home.

Beyond transportation concerns, the biggest challenge for students at the middle and high school is the home life.

Fortunately, the school has been awarded a grant for the 21st Century after-school program, and part of the grant money will be put towards bus transportation for the students. Per the 21st Century website: “21st Century Community Learning Centers provide essential support to students who are often underserved and offer creative, engaging learning opportunities to kids of all ages and backgrounds.”

An even bigger concern

Beyond transportation concerns, the biggest challenge for students at the middle and high school is the home life. They come to school, and their minds are elsewhere because they are worried about where they will sleep from day to day or worrying about mom or dad being on drugs.

Often there is not enough food in the house, and they come to school hungry and tired after the weekend. Many of the students are living with grandparents or other relatives. A growing number of students are moving into the area because they are in foster care.

These students have grown up in volatile environments and bring a lot of challenges with them to school each day. Often these students act out in school, which can be difficult for the teachers and other students.

Even with all the issues these children face, the high school’s graduation rate is very high, and that is thanks to a dedicated and caring staff and administration at the high school.

If a student is failing several classes, they can take online courses or attend one on one classes at an extension campus to graduate.

“Connie is hoping that with the new after-school program, the graduation rate will be even better. After graduation, some students will attend college while others attend technical college or transition to work,” said Shelley.

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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.

High Rents in Jackson City

Jackson City is located in rural and mountainous Breathitt County, Kentucky. Until the 1990s, coal was the foundation of the county’s economy, but the steady decline of the coal mining industry has begun to wreak havoc upon the local economy.

Many families, who once depended upon the mines for income, now depend upon part-time employment at minimum wages, welfare, and food stamps. Poverty and unemployment have become intrinsic parts of daily life in Jackson City — which is exacerbated by the high cost of rent.

The school on the hill

Our affiliated project, Jackson City School, is nicknamed by residents “the school on the hill.” It is indeed perched atop a very tall hill behind the county courthouse. From the school grounds, there is a view over the rooftops of the little city below, as well as the rolling hills and mountains over the horizon.

Our volunteer coordinator, Dixie, has a lot of experience working with children in need.

While visiting Jackson City School, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with our volunteer coordinator, Dixie.

“Dixie a is a real winner of a coordinator — the students at Jackson City School are lucky to have her. She came to Jackson City Schools after working at the former Sebastian Middle School in Breathitt County, so she arrived at the Family Resource Youth Services Center fully understanding our sponsorship program,” explained Renée.

“Dixie is energetic and warm. She has developed close relationships with her students and families.” 

Rent overburdened in America

During their meeting, Dixie told Renée that the Family Resource Center’s greatest needs are support for the Backpack Weekend Feeding Program and her Parent Program. The Parent Program offers parents help with issues like child development and abuse prevention strategies, such as working on methods to calm down, patience, and time outs.

“Dixie explained that, since Jackson is the county seat, its middle class and professional families tend to live here and to enroll their children in the city school system rather than in the county school system,” said Renée.

“We are so grateful for our sponsors, and Dixie, who fills a big gap for parents. Dixie works hard to find great discounts so she can maximize the items she can provide for children throughout the year.”

“At the same time, there are six low-income housing apartment communities in Jackson that offer a total of 134 affordable apartments. One hundred two of these do not provide direct rent assistance but remain affordable. Thirty-two are formal, income-based apartments. The need outpaces the demand. If a family moves to another county, then that apartment is quickly rented to a new family.”

In the United States, households who pay more than thirty percent of their gross income are considered to be “rent overburdened.” In Jackson, a household making less than $1,357 a month would be regarded as overburdened when renting an apartment at or above the median rent. Nearly thirty-seven percent of households who rent are overburdened in Jackson.

Dixie and our sponsors to the rescue

“For families of children in our sponsorship program, this means a disproportionate amount of their low income is required to pay for rent, leaving only a small percentage available for utilities, food, gas, auto maintenance, and repairs — as well as their growing children’s needs for new shoes, school supplies, and other needs,” said Renée.

“We are so grateful for our sponsors, and Dixie, who fills a big gap for parents. Dixie works hard to find great discounts so she can maximize the items she can provide for children throughout the year.”

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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.

Moms Helping in Our Schools

Located in rural and mountainous eastern Kentucky, Breathitt County is one of the 100 poorest counties in the United States.  The economic prospects of Breathitt County are, at best, bleak. The coal mining industry that once dominated this area and provided employment for the majority of its population has been declining.

Children here not only struggle with lack of basic needs, such as food, clothing, and school supplies, but they are also often in dire need of encouragement and positive interaction with adults.

Today, there are few job opportunities for the area: three small factories, a community college, a grocery store, a department store, a small medical center, a juvenile detention center, and the county education system. Many families who once relied upon mining jobs for income now depend upon part-time employment at minimum wages or federal assistance such as welfare checks and food stamps.

Tragically, drug and alcohol abuse are common, both stemming from and further contributing to these difficult socioeconomic circumstances. Children here, therefore, not only struggle with lack of basic needs, such as food, clothing, and school supplies, but they are also often in dire need of encouragement and positive interaction with adults. Many of them lack positive role models who can teach them how to maintain strong moral values and to be and have friends of good character and caliber.

A loving and supportive volunteer coordinator

Thankfully, children at Sebastian Elementary School have our volunteer coordinator, Genevieve, at the school’s Family Resource Center.

“Genevieve is a caring and dedicated staff member who is thrilled to partner with Children Incorporated sponsors to better equip students with the basic essentials and offer them a  positive influence,” said Renée Kube, our Director of U.S. Programs.

Renée is pictured with one of our sponsored children.

“It is always a pleasure and a treat to spend time Genevieve when I visit Breathitt County. She is another very long-serving coordinator and was the one who brought our organization to her school in 2004. She always goes above and beyond for her students.”

Parents lending a helping hand

During her most recent meeting at Sebastian Elementary School, Genevieve introduced Renée to her parent assistant, Jennifer.

“Jennifer is a wonderful help to Genevieve — and of course to our sponsorship program,” said Renée.

“She is the fourth assistant Genevieve has worked with through a program that places mothers in part-time employment at the school. Each of the previous mothers with whom Genevieve has worked has gone on to regular, full-time employment, in part thanks to the experience they got working at the Family Resource Center. Genevieve is very proud of them,” explained Renée.

“It’s an amazing program — mothers get to help children in our sponsorship program that are in need, and in exchange, can work towards helping to get their own families out of poverty. It’s a win-win situation.”

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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.

Emerging on the Other Side

We recently heard from our affiliated project, the Parikrma Home, in India, wanting to let us know how grateful they are for the support from our sponsors and donors. Recently sent funds to the project are being used to purchase food for children and families in need who otherwise would go hungry during this challenging time. The Parikrma Home is also providing school assignments for children to do at home so they can keep up with their studies during school closures.

Today we hear from Anuradha Roy Chowdhury, Head of Operations of the Parikrma Home, about their work in India during the COVID-19 crisis.

Hope for the future in India

Today we hear from Anuradha Roy Chowdhury, Head of Operations of the Parikrma Home, about their work in India during the COVID-19 crisis:

“In the middle of this bizarre COVID pandemic, I have found much to be thankful for. Over the last three weeks, our donors have overwhelmed us – not just with the generosity of their contributions, but also with the faith that they have reposed in us. It is this faith and trust that keeps us going in our objective of ensuring that our badly hit communities are somehow able to survive this time and emerge on the other side, to take up their lives as best as possible. Beyond the financial support, many of our donors have even reached out to us with their time – offering to help us with the actual distribution of the dry rations in the schools, despite knowing the real possibility of being infected. We are very grateful.

Our alumni have been a revelation in the enthusiasm of their response to our call for help. They have reached out to us, some through financial donations and some through their unstinting work in the schools during the weekly distribution of the rations. Our alumni validate all our efforts over the years and make it all worthwhile.

Bags of food that have been packed for distribution.

As of April 20, 2020, we have distributed food rations and basic sanitation to over 1,802 children from 1,050 families and will be reaching out to our families residing in over 70 slums in Bengaluru. We have now started giving out lesson plans, worksheets, and storybooks to our children every time we do distribution of rations to the families. Our teachers have gone virtual too – working out strategies and means to reach out to our children in the slums.

Our donors and our alumni are our proverbial silver lining. The biggest THANK YOU is insufficient, but we would like to say it anyway.”

A note from the Founder

Shukla Bose, Founder of the Parikrma Home, shares her observations during this crisis.

“In spite of all our personal introspection, mindfulness, and self-awareness practices, it’s during moments of deep crisis that self-realization takes on a different dimension.”

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER

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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.

The Heart of Small Community

Located in rural and mountainous eastern Kentucky, Letcher County is best known for its natural beauty, as evidenced by small but growing efforts to promote the county as a tourist destination in recent years. One especially breathtaking site is the Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve in the town of Eolia. The park comprises over 2,600 acres of trails, waterfalls, and mountain vistas, boasting one of the highest concentrations of rare or endangered species in Kentucky.

“The school’s caring and dedicated staff are thrilled to partner with Children Incorporated sponsors to better equip students with the basic essentials and well-rounded education they need and deserve,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

The breathtaking beauty of this land, however, belies the hardships that its residents face each day.  As with many towns in the area, the community of Eolia traces its roots back to the coalmining industry, which sustained this once-thriving region for generations. With the decline of the mining industry, however, employment opportunities here have plummeted, and poverty rates have soared.

Many families have moved away in search of job opportunities, but a resilient few have stayed, working hard to revitalize their community despite hardship. Daily survival here is a struggle, and children feel it perhaps most keenly. In fact, the childhood poverty rate here currently hovers at a staggering 32%.

For these reasons, our affiliated project, Arlie Boggs Elementary/Middle School, not only offers hope and a sense of security to children and families in need, but in so many ways is the heart of this small, close-knit community.

Meeting Sandy

The Family Resource Center is able to offer so much support for families in need in Letcher County. 

“The school’s caring and dedicated staff are thrilled to partner with Children Incorporated sponsors to better equip students with the basic essentials and well-rounded education they need and deserve,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“The coordinator, Sandy, is a dynamo of energy and enthusiasm. She is so proud of the kids. Sandy shared her two favorite school academic initiatives are essentially band and business. All students are required to learn a musical instrument starting in fifth grade. From sixth through eighth grade, the students may participate in band.”

Learning about Small Business

Another initiative that the school has implemented is the EntreEd Program. According to their website, “[a]s the future of work continues to evolve, EntreEd instills entrepreneurial mindsets in every student, every year to forge a more entrepreneurial America.”

Arlie Boggs has partnered with EntreEd thanks to an entrepreneurship grant. Business concepts are taught to children at every grade level in the school. The older students learn to develop business plans and launch their small businesses — and keep their profits. The program runs from August through October, culminating in a school fair to which their families are invited. Sandy says that examples of small businesses that students have launched included creating temporary tattoos, making cotton candy, designing custom tee shirts,  making wreaths and jewelry, and dress design.

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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.