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A School Full of Sponsored Children

Even by Navajo reservation standards, our affiliated project, the Lake Valley Boarding School, is located in an incredibly remote area of New Mexico. The school serves grades kindergarten through eighth, and there is a total of 32 students in attendance – each of which is sponsored through our sponsorship program.

“Over the years, there has been talk of closing the school and transporting the children to the nearest little town, which is Crownpoint, where the school has its post office box,” explained Children Incorporated Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.

“Since that time, we have been able to provide the items they requested as well as support students during the COVID-19 outbreak with food to take home while they moved to remote learning in 2020 and the spring of 2021,” said Renée.

“However, the school’s isolation makes the prospect of consolidation doubtful. The high desert region is arid, but it is not without rain. When the rains come, transportation in some areas comes to a virtual standstill. The mud is deep and thick, and many of the roads are in bad shape. Therefore, the school is quite essential for the few families that send their children there.”

Meeting Veronica and Jeannette

“Our volunteer co-coordinators at Lake Valley are Veronica and Jeanette. Both work in the school dormitory, as many of the children live on the outskirts of the districts, and the roads are sometimes too bad for a daily commute. The children stay in the dorm until Friday afternoon, and they return to the dorm on Sunday afternoon, except during summer, winter breaks and holidays. The ladies are a great and supportive team, and it’s obvious they’re devoted to every child,” said Renée.

Our co-volunteer coordinators, Jeanette and Veronica

“During my last visit to the school in 2019, we began our tour outside the main office when several boys ran up to show Veronica and Jeanette their team’s sports trophies. Of the 36 students from the area who competed in the track event, five were from Lake Valley. Jeanette and Veronica introduced me to George and Douglas who live with their parents and one sister. Their mom works as a clerical assistant, and their father has erratic work as a laborer. His pay is good when he can find work, but he goes for long periods without. Their combined pay is below poverty level.”

“This is the situation for most of our sponsored kids at Lake Valley. Work is inconsistent, and daily commutes are grueling,” said Renée.

Supporting special needs and beyond

“After meeting the children, we then went on to the dorm and discussed our program. The ladies do all of their shopping at the Walmart in Farmington because they feel the funds stretch farthest. At the time, they requested Hope In Action Funding for eyeglasses for two of the students who have vision issues due to their albinism. Veronica and Jeanette also requested to be considered if any funds become available for their playground, books in the dorm, tablets for the dorm, arts and crafts supplies for the dorm, and seeds and soil for the school greenhouse.”

“Since that time, we have been able to provide the items they requested as well as support students during the COVID-19 outbreak with food to take home while they moved to remote learning in 2020 and the spring of 2021,” said Renée.

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How do I sponsor a child in the united states?

You can sponsor a child in the United States 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 United States that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

 

A Large Space with Ample Supplies

* Note: This blog was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much has changed regarding our sponsored children’s learning experience in the past months, our On the Road stories remain relevant in regards to our volunteer coordinator’s work and the impact of sponsorship on children in our program thanks to our sponsors. We are pleased to continue to share stories with you about our work.

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Blackey, Kentucky is proud of its distinction as a place where part of the movie, Coal Miner’s Daughter, was filmed. Once a bustling mining town with its own coal company, Blackey was devastated by floods and fires in the late 1920s. Even more tragically, during the Great Depression, the little community’s bank failed, and Blackey never regained its glory years.

“Michele has taken maximum advantage of her space. Every square inch is packed with materials and supplies for children — including those in our sponsorship program.” 

Lots of basic needs items for kids

Letcher Elementary School serves children from kindergarten through fifth grade. The school feeds into another Children Incorporated affiliated project, Letcher Middle School, which is attached to one end of the elementary school. Although the schools are on the same campus, they operate separately.

“Our volunteer coordinator and the school’s Family Resource Center Coordinator, Michele, is fortunate to have a large physical resource center, which is not usually the case in schools in Kentucky,” explains Renée Kube, our Director of U.S. Programs.

We are grateful for our sponsors who make it possible for us to support children at Letcher Elementary School.

“Michele has taken maximum advantage of her space. Every square inch is packed with materials and supplies for children — including those in our sponsorship program.” 

A community with a big heart

During a visit to the school, Michele told Renée that Letcher Elementary and Middle Schools are fortunate to be located in Blackey, which is a small town with a big heart. The community members are very driven to help each other, and the city administrators offer many public places for residents to learn.

“Blackey has a tiny public library in town and a community center that is open to adults and children. The community center offers workshops in practical things like sewing and also activities like painting and handicrafts,” said Renée.

“It is wonderful that the community has a gathering place where people can come together to have fun and support one another emotionally and physically.”

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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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Our Back to School Fund Offers More Than Just School Supplies to Children in Need

My mom and dad were hard-working, lower middle class people, and they did everything in their power to provide for my brother and me. Though their financial situation had improved greatly by the time I reached my teen years, they endured some very difficult times early on. At one point, when I was a small child, my dad lost his job, and with no income being generated, he was unable to pay his bills. His ability to obtain credit was temporarily blocked, and repercussions from that situation haunted him for years to follow.

My mom and dad were hard-working, lower middle class people, and they did everything in their power to provide for my brother and me.

My mom, ever willing to work, moved through several low-paying positions, working at a fast-food restaurant for a while, then as a cook for a church daycare center, and later clerking in a retail store. There was very little money, yet my brother and I never went without decent and clean clothing and adequate amounts of food. My parents, along with our large extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and good church folk, made sure that we had all that we needed.

Striving for Success

Each fall, as a fresh school year rolled around, we received new clothes, though I clearly remember my dad worrying about how he and my mom would pay for those items. My mom insisted that my brother and I both receive new pants, shirts, a coat, and even shoes for the start of the school year. My mom recognized that without those items — clean clothes and nice shoes, in particular — my brother and I would stand out in a negative manner. We would be looked down upon and judged for what we were — or weren’t — wearing. Other children and even some teachers might treat us as less-than, and our sense of self-esteem and belonging would be poorly impacted. My mom realized that these things would all work together to the detriment of our success in school.

Our Back To School Funds provides children with resources to not only go to school, but feel good while they are there.

Decades have passed since our family endured those hardships, yet the situation I described absolutely exists today, perhaps greater than at any other time. In many of the communities where Children Incorporated operates and provides its sponsorship programs, devoted parents struggle to provide for their children’s daily needs. Unlike my mom and dad, who were always able to secure jobs — even if they were low paying positions — and bring in enough money to somehow make ends meet, jobs are quite scarce in many areas of our country, so working for a living is not always a viable option.  Additionally, everyday expenses these days far outweigh what one can earn from working at a fast food restaurant or clerking at a dollar variety store. For those families with multiple children, the cost of childcare alone is often greater than the limited salaries earned by the primary breadwinners. Just providing the basics for everyday living is a huge challenge; thus, the idea of back-to-school shopping and new clothes for a fresh school year is little more than a distant dream.

Making things a little easier

Children still need to belong. They still need to fit in. They still need to have strong self-esteem to thrive and succeed in school.  What they wear and how they feel about themselves in those clothes matters. That is why our Back To School Fund is so very important. The items we provide to impoverished children and youth put them on an equal, or at least increased, playing field with others. We take the funds you provide and use them to make going back to school perhaps a little easier, fitting in less of a challenge, and concentrating on learning — as opposed to focusing on being set apart — the primary goal of the students. Additionally, our Back To School Fund also provides school supplies and educational assistance where needed.

Your generosity now, in support of our Back To School Fund, will allow us to get assistance out to our network of volunteer coordinators ahead of the upcoming school year, so that they can be ready to meet the needs of children and youth as they return to classes in the fall. Your help is requested and much-needed. Please consider making a donation to our Back To School Fund today.

DONATE

 

With Deepest Thanks for Our Organization

The To’Hajiilee Day School, Children Incorporated’s longest-established affiliated project in New Mexico, educates around 317 children and youth annually in grades kindergarten through 12 in a community in which 99% of children come from low income families.

Karen expressed her deepest thanks for our organization. She stressed that not only do the kids love our program, but the parents, grandparents, and guardians are so grateful too,” said Renée.

Our volunteer coordinator is Katrina, a person with a dynamic personality, who has over the years, supported families of children in our sponsorship program as the school’s Family Engagement Coordinator. In that role, she is responsible for all school events and for raising parent participation. She also works with the mobile food bank to provide monthly food distribution. 

Getting to know Katrina

“Katrina is very well-organized, and makes sure that our sponsored children get everything they need on a monthly basis – from food, to clothes to school supplies, she does the best she can to shop for our kids to find the best deals so donations from sponsors go a long way,” explains Renée Kube, our Director of U.S. Programs.

The last time that I met with Katrina in 2019, she gave me a full tour of the school’s buildings and grounds. I also got to meet some of the seniors in our program who were doing very well in school who I thought would make great candidates for our Higher Education Program.”

Children Incorporated is able to offer support to kids at the To’Hajiilee Day School thanks to our amazing sponsors.

“Katrina had also arranged for me to meet with one of the parents of our sponsored children, Karen. Karen is a single mom.  She has five children, two of which are in our program. Karen had a job at one time but lost it and has been unemployed. The children’s father is not in the picture, so Karen really struggles to provide for everything the kids need,” said Renée.

Meeting Karen

“During our meeting, Katrina praised Karen as one of her best and most involved parents. She never misses a PTA meeting, teacher conference, or any school event. She is supportive of the children’s studies and has them do their homework and any special projects. Additionally, Karen serves as a volunteer for Katrina’s Family Engagement Center. She helps with a lot of the events. Finally, Karen has been a great helper for Katrina with our sponsorship program. Karen accompanies her on shopping trips and helps with every aspect from purchasing to distributing.”

“In turn, Karen expressed her deepest thanks for our organization. She said the help provided to all the children is so important to them. She stressed that not only do the kids love our program, but the parents, grandparents, and guardians are so grateful too,” said Renée.

How do I sponsor a child in new Mexico?

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

SPONSOR A CHILD

Partnering Communities Through School

* Note: This blog was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much has changed regarding our sponsored children’s learning experience in the past months, our On the Road stories remain relevant in regards to our volunteer coordinator’s work and the impact of sponsorship on children in our program thanks to our sponsors. We are pleased to continue to share stories with you about our work.

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Hart Middle School in Washington, D.C. is located in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Ward 8. The school serves 357 students in grades sixth through eighth. Its student demographics are 98% black, 1% Hispanic/Latino, and 1% other. Seventy-four percent of the children come from within the district boundary. Twenty-one percent receive special education services — and 100% of students are considered economically disadvantaged.

“We are incredibly proud to be working with Hart Middle School to support their great efforts to lift children up both educationally and academically.”

“Our Volunteer Coordinator at Hart Middle is named Ashley. She has been with the school for several years and has built a wonderful rapport with her students and families. It is apparent she is a devoted advocate for them,” explained Renée Kube, our Director of U.S. Programs.

“While meeting with Ashley in her office, she gave me a refresher about the school. She talked about a reading intervention program for students whose reading comprehension is below grade level. Groups of students come in regularly for lunchtime mentoring.”

“The school believes in the whole child and supports athletics and several arts and cultural clubs, as well as academics,” said Renée.

A new and inventive program

Ashley shows Renée her supplies and resources for kids in our program during their meeting.

“Ashley also told me that Hart Middle is part of the new Connected Schools Program. She has taken on the role of the Connected Schools Manager. She elaborated that the heart of the Connected Schools philosophy is to work hard to bring the community into its school. She contacts parents and guardians when things are going well. There is a renewed push to bring in mentors to work with the students. Ashley is also working on adding further case management for the most vulnerable children who are at the greatest risk.”

“The part the students like about the Connect Schools Program is the emphasis on “PBIS,” Positive Behavior Incentive Supports. When Ashley interacts with students, or when teachers work with students, and they see a real effort being put forth on an issue that a child is having — whether it’s attendance, manners, or a school subject such as math — then the student gets a token that can be redeemed for a variety of desirable items. For example, one token may be used for a tube of Chapstick or lip balm, which is popular. Or a few more tokens may be redeemed for a binder or several for a pack of headbands or barrettes in the proper colors,” explained Renée.

“The reward part of the Program gives students something to work towards and builds up their self-esteem. We are incredibly proud to be working with Hart Middle School to support their great efforts to lift children up both educationally and academically.”

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How do I sponsor a child in Washington, D.C.?

You can sponsor a child in Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C.  who is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

The Challenges of Home Life

* Note: This blog was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much has changed regarding our sponsored children’s learning experience in the past months, our On the Road stories remain relevant in regards to our volunteer coordinator’s work and the impact of sponsorship on children in our program thanks to our sponsors. We are pleased to continue to share stories with you about our work.

***

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD