Tag Archives: help children

Stepping Back in Time

I recently had the privilege of visiting several schools in West Virginia where Children Incorporated offers our child sponsorship program. It had been several years since my last visit to these schools; while I had clear memories from my previous trips, I wasn’t sure what I would find this go-around. Reflecting on the fact that everything in our world changes rapidly, I expected to find that these West Virginia schools were different from how they were when I last visited them. What I discovered, however, is that I was wrong to anticipate significant changes, for visiting these schools was, in many ways, like stepping back in time.

Sponsoring a child changes their life.

Mr. Carter with our Volunteer Coordinator Lara at Genoa Elementary School

The first two schools I visited, Genoa Elementary School and Dunlow Elementary School, both in Wayne County, West Virginia, are very small institutions; one has a total enrollment of approximately 75 students, and the other, just around ninety. The school buildings are old and showing signs of wear after many years of use; and both sit in extremely rural areas, void of businesses and commerce.

As I drove to these schools from Huntington, West Virginia, a city of 50,000 people less than an hour away, I couldn’t help but feel a drastic shift from city to country – from have to have not. The roads began to curve; some became much narrower and less maintained. Businesses and houses became fewer and farther apart. Then, while seemingly in the middle of nowhere, I arrived at the first school I was scheduled to visit: Genoa Elementary School.

Hearing from our sponsored children

While the staff at the school was extremely welcoming to me – and they clearly take their responsibility of caring for students quite seriously – the heaviness of poverty just hung in the air. It was palpable; I could feel it. As I interacted with several students enrolled in the Children Incorporated sponsorship program, I was moved by their obvious need.

As I spoke with one little girl, she told me that her sponsor writes her letters and encourages her to study hard and always do her homework. She said that she always looks forward to the letters she receives from this woman, for they remind her that someone cares about her and wants her to succeed in life. A little boy at the same school showed me some of his artwork, and he told me that his sponsor sent money for the supplies he used to create his little masterpieces. He was very thankful for the gift.

For more than half a decade, we have been touching lives and offering hope and opportunity in areas where necessities are often in short supply. That, friends, is why our organization exists; and you, through your generous support of our work, make it all possible.

Our wonderful volunteer coordinator at the school shared that a number of children would go without shoes, warm clothing, and food if it weren’t for assistance provided by their sponsors through our organization. She voiced her appreciation, as did the school principal, for all the years that Children Incorporated has helped the poorest among their student body to fit in and experience a sense of normalcy while at school, by providing them with clothing similar to those worn by less financially-stressed youngsters. She talked of the significance of ensuring that these children, too, have pencils and paper, and adequate school supplies, as well as food on the weekends, when they do not receive the free hot meals provided on weekdays in the school cafeteria.

A sense of hope

At the second school I visited, Dunlow Elementary – even further away from a major city, and perhaps even more remote – I found a very similar situation: a small, dedicated, caring staff working very hard to ensure that the children they serve are being well-provided-for and are offered a safe place in which to learn and grow. Children who live in extreme poverty, as most of the youngsters enrolled in our programs do, look forward to attending school, because while there, they not only have access to heat, clean water, and nutritious food – things often missing in their home lives – but they also experience a sense of hope and possibility for their futures. They see beyond what is to what could be, and they dare to dream.

It saddens me that the assistance offered by Children Incorporated is still so vitally important in the lives of these youngsters; yet I am also grateful that we can be there to extend a helping hand and offer support that is truly life-changing. That is what Children Incorporated is about: improving the lives of children and their families as they face financial hardships and trials of all kinds. For more than half a decade, we have been touching lives and offering hope and opportunity in areas where necessities are often in short supply. That, friends, is why our organization exists; and you, through your generous support of our work, make it all possible.

Thank you very much!

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter

President and Chief Executive Officer

About Wayne County, West Virginia

Wayne County is nestled amid the vast natural beauty of the Allegheny Mountains, which still conceal deposits of the coal that once made this a rich and populous area of the Mountaineer State. Automation of mines and the ecological stigmas attached to coal as a fuel source have seriously damaged Wayne County’s economy. With coal mining almost shut down, businesses that once depended upon mining and the buying power of miners have closed. Unemployment continues to rise, and industry development remains at a crawl.

Like many small towns in this rural part of West Virginia, Genoa is remote, located far from any sizeable town or city. A few strip mines still produce coal, and there are some sawmills that cut lumber. Overall, however, Genoa’s economy is struggling, with high unemployment and a lack of industry development. Many residents in this region live well below the poverty line.

For these reasons, Genoa Elementary School and Dunlow Elementary School serve as beacons of hope and safe havens, as they are among the few places where children from impoverished families can count on support, encouragement, and a warm nutritious meal each day. The caring teachers at these schools strive to improve each child’s self-esteem and well-being through a well-rounded education – the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN WEST VIRGINIA?

You can sponsor a child in West Virginia 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.

Changing the Life of a Child in Need

Phelps Elementary School is on the far eastern side of Pike County, almost to the border between Kentucky and West Virginia, and about 45 minutes from the county seat. On a recent trip to Pike County, our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, met with our volunteer coordinator at the school, Brandi, who talked with Shelley about the level of poverty among families in the area, and why many of them are having a hard time making ends meet.

Even as a young boy, Danny is very aware of the poverty in which his family lives, and he knows that he would go without so much in his life if he weren’t receiving help from his sponsor.

Phelps Elementary School serves children from preschool through the sixth grade, with an enrollment of about 350 students. Brandi explained that many families of sponsored and unsponsored children who attend the school have an income that is 200 percent below the Federal Poverty Line. Jobs in the area are mostly for minimum wage; local businesses include Family Dollar, Dollar General, and a few independently-owned companies and stores.

Some members of the community travel to Pikeville for work – but only if they can earn more money by doing so, to make the commute back and forth worth their time and effort. A few parents are employed at the local Kellogg Company factory, but many of those jobs require long hours away from home, which is not ideal – especially for single parents.

Many of our sponsored students feel that sponsorship has changed their lives.

Meeting Danny

During Shelley’s visit, Brandi took her on a tour of the school, where she was able to meet a few students enrolled in our program. Shelley recalls that one student in particular, Danny*, really stood out to her.

Even as a young boy, Danny is very aware of the poverty in which his family lives, and he knows that he would go without so much in his life if he weren’t receiving help from his sponsor. While Shelley talked with Danny, he told her, “Having a sponsor has changed my life. She has helped me with so much. I need so much. That is what my sponsor is for, thankfully.”

After meeting with Danny, Shelley learned from Brandi that without his Children Incorporated sponsor, Danny would never have decent clothes, shoes, school supplies, or hygiene items, which are all so important to him – as they are to all children – while he’s growing up.

*Name changed for child’s 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.

Working to Make Dreams Come True

Shelby Valley High School is located in the southern part of Pikeville, Kentucky. The school is fortunate in that U.S. Route 23 traverses its surrounding area. Route 23 is one of only two four-lane highways that pass through the county. This makes this part of Pike County more attractive for businesses; unlike many other counties in Eastern Kentucky, where employment opportunities are slim to none, several small companies dot the route, employing people with marketable skills. There is a daycare center, a nursing and rehab center, a sandwich shop, a small florist, a diner, and a gas station there. The county seat is just eleven miles to the north, so those with reliable transportation find employment there as well.

At Children Incorporated, we believe in every child’s potential – and we take every opportunity we can to ensure that all students in our program realize that they are capable of having bright, promising futures.

Passionate about the mission

Adjacent to the new Valley Elementary School, Shelby Valley High School has an enrollment of approximately 597 students. The school was built in 1990 as a consolidation of two old high school buildings. Shelby Valley became affiliated with Children Incorporated in 1998, as the students who were enrolled in our program at the local middle school moved up to high school. In addition to core curriculum, Shelby Valley offers fine arts, as well as career and technical education. Extracurricular activities include clubs and sports. There is a large athletic complex on the campus, and sports are a big part of student life at the school.

The Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) coordinator at Shelby Valley High School is Shannon. Shannon is passionate about FRYSC’s mission, and she is a strong supporter of our organization. On a recent trip to Pike County, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, visited with Shannon, who gave her a tour of the building and grounds. She also made arrangements for Renée to meet and talk with a couple of our sponsored children, including Ryan* and his mom, Paula*.

Ryan pictured with his mother, Paula, and Renée.

Encouraging Ryan

Ryan, an only child, and Paula live in an apartment complex located just a few lots behind the school. Ryan is in the twelfth grade and has been in our sponsorship program since he was five years old, when he started kindergarten. Ryan’s mom has some disabilities and is unable leave the house for work.

As they talked in the resource center, Paula told Renée that Children Incorporated has meant so much to her family over the many years that Ryan has been in our program. He has had a few different sponsors since kindergarten, and he has appreciated the help he has received from each of them. Ryan always enjoys writing to his sponsors to let them know that he is grateful for their support, and how helpful it is for his mom to not have to worry about how to get him clothes, shoes, school supplies, and other things he needs as he is growing up.

Ryan told Renée that he has participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for all four years of high school. Renée could tell from her conversation with him that he is an extremely serious and responsible young man. Ryan expressed that he would like to attend the University of Pikeville, and major in computer science and criminal justice. Renée was excited to hear that he is interested in receiving a higher education, knowing that attending an excellent high school like Shelby Valley and participating in great extracurricular activities like ROTC, Ryan has a good shot at getting into college if he sets his mind to doing so.

Before their meeting ended, Renée made sure to encourage Ryan to continue working hard in school to make his dreams come true. At Children Incorporated, we believe in every child’s potential – and we take every opportunity we can to ensure that all students in our program realize that they are capable of having bright, promising futures.

*Names changed for individuals’ 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.

A Magical Time of Year

A few years back, my younger daughter, who was in grade school and believed wholeheartedly in Santa Claus at the time, asked me a couple of questions that I have since replayed in my mind time and time again. She had heard me talk about the fact that many children go without presents at Christmas, and she knew that Children Incorporated works with various organizations, companies, and individuals to provide gifts to many such youngsters at this special time of year. She did not understand why Santa, who is supposed to care about all children equally, would overlook some, leaving them with no presents at all. So she asked me, “Why doesn’t Santa Claus also give those children toys? Why does he pass them by?”

No gifts for children living in poverty

Thanks to you, children all over the world are receiving Christmas gifts this holiday season.

As many parents through the ages have struggled with questions about Santa Claus, I, too, wrestled with responding in a way that would make sense, yet would not rob my child of her innocence and brief belief in the man in the red hat. I quickly came up with something along the lines of Santa not paying for the toys he delivers; but rather, parents send him money for gifts that he either makes or picks up, and he delivers them on Christmas Eve. Then I explained to my child that some parents cannot afford to send Santa money; thus, their children go without gifts. My daughter seemed to accept this explanation fairly well, and we moved on to the next topic.

Now, years later, my child is in high school – her belief in Santa long forgotten. She and I still struggle, however, with the concept of poverty, and the fact that many youngsters have little to celebrate at Christmastime – or throughout the year, for that matter. Basics such as food and clothing are often in short supply in their lives; thus, presents wrapped in pretty holiday paper, adorned with bright sparkly bows, are merely something about which they can only dream. As their parents struggle to provide shelter, pay rent and utilities, and ensure that their sons and daughters get to and from school – where parents hope their children will receive an education that will lead them to a better life – the brilliance of the Christmas season is greatly dimmed.

Because of kind donations, many children around the world are feeling the Christmas spirit during this magical time of year – a warmth they would not be feeling otherwise.

A season of new beginnings

Christmas is a magical time for many. Advent, the period leading up to it, is a season of new beginnings; fresh starts and hopes and possibilities – the very things those who struggle are often missing in their lives, and so desperately need. During this special time of year, I want to thank our sponsors and supporters for all that they have contributed to the work of Children Incorporated by sponsoring children, making donations to our Hope In Action Fund, and helping us to provide not only food and clothing – but also sometimes a toy or book or ball – to children who might otherwise go without. Because of kind donations, many children around the world are feeling the Christmas spirit during this magical time of year – a warmth they would not be feeling otherwise. Thanks to you, so many youngsters are having a very merry Christmas and a happy holiday. We can’t thank you enough for changing the lives of these children in need.

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer

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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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

Celebrating Our Successes

As we reach the end of the year 2018, we want to take time to reflect on what we have been able to accomplish, thanks to our amazing sponsors and donors, over the past year. Because of our supporters around the globe, not only have we provided basic needs for thousands of children at nearly 300 affiliated projects through our sponsorship program, but we have also funded dozens of special programs that expand our reach to even more children, their families, and entire communities. The following are some of our successes that you have made possible – and we are extremely proud to have this opportunity to share them with you.

We are so grateful for each and every person who helped make 2018 such a successful year! We look forward to another great year helping children in need in 2019!

Our accomplishments

– We provided regular aid to thousands of children in eight U.S. states and Washington, D.C. As the heart of our organization, our sponsorship program provided for the basic, health, and educational needs of vulnerable youth, as well as the opportunity for our caring sponsors to correspond with their sponsored children.

– We provided hand tools, seeds, plants, soil conditioners, and other materials to a school in Martin County, Kentucky. Our volunteer coordinator there was selected as a “Healthy School Hero” by Kentucky’s Action for Healthy Kids for having spearheaded the establishment and expansion of a school greenhouse and garden. The students there enjoyed outdoor lessons, continued working and learning over the summer, and took the harvest home to their families.

– We facilitated the attendance of interested children enrolled in our program in Alleghany County, North Carolina at the Junior Appalachian Musicians after-school program. The young students took lessons in traditional Appalachian instruments, like the banjo and dulcimer; as well as in an area of cultural enrichment, like clogging, stories, and singing.

In 2018, we supported children in India with one meal a day during the school days.

– We enrolled 25 new children at the Rainbow Center in Ethiopia, 25 at Fortune’s Children at Parang in the Philippines, thirty at the Pinagpala Children’s Center in the Philippines, 25 at the Dandora Community Center in Kenya, and we supported 200 children at St. John’s Community Center in Kenya.

– We provided materials and supplies for a reading pergola and native canyon grape vines at a school in the Navajo Nation in Arizona. The vines were trained up the pergola to provide shade, and students will make jam from the grapes. The kids love the pergola, and our volunteer coordinator at the school has already seen increased reading activity because of it, which means improved literacy.

– We provided additional warm clothing for children attending a special education school in Arizona and at a charter school in New Orleans.

– We supported Backpack Feeding Programs for weekends and holidays for children in Kentucky and Washington, D.C.

– We provided assistance that allowed nine high-achieving graduates who were in our sponsorship program in the United States to attend college.

– We supported children at five schools in India and the Philippines with one meal a day during the school days so that they could stay focused and alert, experience improved physical development, and perform better academically.

– We provided emergency relief for families after a volcanic eruption near Antigua, Guatemala, where our affiliated project Sagrada Familia is located.

We are so grateful for each and every person who helped make 2018 such a successful year! We look forward to another great year helping children in need in 2019!

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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.

Long Days and Nights for Parents in Kentucky

Kimper Elementary School, one of our many affiliated projects in Pike County, Kentucky, is proud of its reputation of academic excellence. With an attendance rate of 96 percent, this school has had a positive impact on the children and families of this struggling Appalachian community for decades. The school itself is very small, with an enrollment of about 175 students from kindergarten to the eighth grade. Our sponsorship program is making a difference there, as we help to ensure that the children receive the clothes, shoes, school supplies, and hygiene items they need on a regular basis.

So little time left for family

Kimper Elementary School students’ parents often work long hours away from home.

Recently, on her way to visit with our Volunteer Coordinator at Kimper Elementary School, Vivian, our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, drove by a fairly large Kellogg Company factory, where well-known breakfast cereals and other convenience foods such as Corn Flakes are produced; she also passed a McCoy Elkhorn Coal Operation mine. Shelley was surprised that both seemed to be in full operation, and she was pleased to see industry in such a remote part of the county, where there would usually just be closed factories and mines.

When she arrived at the school, Shelley asked Vivian about employment options in the area. Vivian told Shelley that the McCoy Elkhorn Coal Operation mine used to be one of the better companies to work for – offering great pay, good benefits, bonuses, and pensions. Today, however, the mine operates on only a very small skeleton crew.

The Kellogg Company factory, on the other hand, employs a large number of people in Pike County – many of whom are parents of our sponsored and unsponsored children. Their shifts are long, though; employees work twelve-hour shifts either from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., or overnight from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. This leaves staff with little time to be available for their kids. The long shifts are especially difficult for single parents.

The effects of working long hours

Thankfully, these children have the Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC), Vivian, and the support of their sponsors.

Even with better-paying jobs, parents who work long shifts still have plenty to worry about when it comes to providing for their kids. If they aren’t home in the evenings, they aren’t able to help their kids with homework, or prepare nutritious meals for them. Parents that work into late afternoon can’t take their kids to and from after-school activities, either; their kids may therefore miss out on sports and other school functions.

Kellogg Company employees may not have a chance to ensure that their kids are ready for school and properly dressed, with their book bags packed for the day. They may also miss important evening meetings at school. Thankfully, however, these children have the Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC), Vivian, and the support of their sponsors. Although their parents may not have as much time to dedicate to them as they would like, these kids are still being looked after and cared for each and every day.

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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.