Tag Archives: hope

Over the years, Children Incorporated has been affiliated with a total of 10 Washington, D.C. public schools. The affiliations began in approximately 2009, when our U.S. Programs Urban Division Director at that time, Ron Carter, sought to expand upon the relationship he had made possible between Children Incorporated and Communities In Schools (CIS) of Richmond.

Being pleased with CIS as a partner, and ready for Children Incorporated to grow to its next urban affiliations, Ron reached out to the Executive Director at Communities In Schools of the Nation’s Capital at that time. Our organization’s first affiliation was at Ferebee-Hope Elementary School, and our organization’s impact has grown from there.

Understanding our capital city

It is ironic that in the richest nation in the world, there are children who are literally growing up in the shadow of the White House, who are living in bitter poverty, and who have never experienced the cultural and educational offerings in the city.

Asjya is pictured with one of our sponsored children.

However, despite the poverty, there is also a huge sense of pride. Many communities have been established for decades and have a strong sense of identity.

Some U.S. cities are divided into districts; others (like New Orleans) have parishes and Washington, D.C. has wards. There are eight wards currently in Washington, D.C. The city is bordered by Maryland to the north, east and west; and Virginia is to its south, on the other side of the landmark Potomac River.

There is also a smaller and lesser-known river named the Anacostia that runs through the city. For decades, the Anacostia River split Ward 7 and Ward 8 from the others. That divide was not only geographic, but economic, too. Ward 7 and 8 have had the highest poverty rates. There are children who have lived their whole lives without crossing the Anacostia River. These two wards also have had higher rates of violence than others.

Changes being made in recent years

However, the city began to redraw its wards based on the 2020 federal census. There are now small “bumps” on the tops of Ward 7 and Ward 8 that expand them north of the river for the first time ever. Ward 8 now includes gentrified areas such as Navy Yard and Southwest Waterfront. As The Washington Post stated in 2021, “The end of the days of exclusively east-of-the-river wards is inevitable, a result of a decade of explosive development in some Washington, D.C. neighborhoods and near-stagnation in others that has left the city’s eight wards unbalanced.”

With many neighborhoods becoming increasingly gentrified, there is an increasing inequity between “the haves and the have-nots.” Housing costs are skyrocketing, and the influx of new residents makes parking very difficult. There is still a shortage of grocery stores south of the Anacostia River. Food insecurity and transportation barriers go hand in hand. Additionally, Washington, D.C. does not provide school buses for students. Families must drive, walk or take a city bus. Transportation is a significant barrier for the children, and many absences are related to these ongoing challenges.

Providing regular, consistent support can truly make a difference in children’s well-being and healthy development, and we are seeing that through our affiliations in Washington, D.C.

The child poverty rate in Wards 7 and 8 is over 50%. Children who grow up in poverty are often exposed to high levels of trauma, which can have adverse effects on their development. Adding the stress of the pandemic years made a bad situation worse for impoverished students. Many children saw family members become very ill and even die. They worried what would happen to them. There were extra financial benefits provided, which improved child poverty, but those have now expired.

All these reasons are why the benefits of our sponsorship program are so important. Providing regular, consistent support can truly make a difference in children’s well-being and healthy development, and we are seeing that through our affiliations in Washington, D.C.

Visiting Burrville Elementary School

Children Incorporated’s Assistant Director of U.S. Programs, Kristen Walthall, and I visited our affiliated sites in Washington, D.C. in early 2024. Our first appointment was scheduled for Burrville Elementary School. After stopping for gas near the school, we drove around for some time looking for a place to park. This was complicated by road repairs by the school, with a street blocked off.

We arrived at the school a bit breathless, but excited. We were greeted by the Executive Director of Communities In Schools of the Nation’s Capital, Dr. Rustin Lewis, who had driven across town to welcome us personally. But he had to leave and return to the office immediately. We were also greeted by the Communities In Schools of the Nation’s Capital’s Program Director, Monique, and our volunteer coordinator Asyja, who runs the Children Incorporated sponsorship program at Burrville Elementary School.

To start our visit, Asyja took us on a tour of the school building. It’s an old structure, but it is well maintained. Due to its age there are few windows and thus no natural light, but the faculty has worked hard to make things cheerful with colorful bulletin boards and posters. The hallways are named after universities; Asyja explained to us that the school wants to plant the seed of higher education in the children’s minds from the beginning.

Burrville Elementary School offers a beacon of hope for children in the community.

During our walk, we were introduced to one of our enrolled children, Brooks.* Brooks is seven years old and is in the second grade. He loves playing soccer, practicing rap, and the color red. That’s a good thing, as it matches the school color. Brooks lives with his mother, stepfather, two older sisters, one older brother and one younger brother. His mother makes and sells bead necklaces for a living. His stepfather is currently unemployed. After Asyja sent Brooks back to his classroom, she said this family is one she works with a lot. Brooks and his older brother are enrolled on our sponsorship program. She is working on enrolling the two older sisters as well.

After our tour of the school, we all went to Asyja’s office, where Kris and I got a better idea of how Burrville is able to support children in the community. The school itself serves children in grades PK3 through fifth. (PK3 is prekindergarten for three-year olds. The “regular” prekindergarten is for four-year olds.) According to Asyja, the school offers several supplemental programs for its students. These include Reading Partners, the Joyful Market (a Children Incorporated favorite and past beneficiary of our Hope In Action Fund grants) and a variety of clubs, including a gardening club.

Asyja said her students’ greatest need is clothing. She is doing home visits and knows at least one child who needs a real bed. She will reach out to me or Kris once she gets an estimate on the cost of the bed and request Hope In Action Funds to purchase it. Asyja said she also sees food insecurity and works to address that. The average rent is $1,724 monthly, which means many families are paying a tremendous share of their limited income toward housing. She also said that a lot of Burrville Elementary School families are employed in service jobs (such as fast food), and some work in sales or for the government (such as in the clerical and tech support fields). Almost 30% don’t have cars and take public transportation into the downtown area and its work environs.

Ultimately, Children Incorporated helps provide a foundation that removes barriers and improves the social and emotional challenges that negatively affect our students.

– Asyja

Hearing from Asyja

Upon returning to the Children Incorporated office after our visit to Burrville Elementary, I received the following email from Asyja:

 Approximately 258 students are enrolled at Burrville currently. 92% are African American and 7% Hispanic/Latino. English language learners make up 6% of the student population, 17% of students have an Individualized Education Program and 100% of the students receive free/reduced price meals.

Family engagement is a priority at Burrville. We conduct home visits, set up parent/teacher conferences and communicate with our families consistently. We also host annual events that our families and community members enjoy participating in. These activities include: Family Movie Night, Literacy Night, Fall Festival, Black History Month Programs, Family Game Night and Field Day. Burrville has partnerships with D.C. Scores, Teens Run D.C., Martha’s Table, Raising a Village and Boys Town, as well as Communities In Schools and Children Incorporated.

Homelessness, poor attendance and inadequate resources are the challenges at Burrville that impact the well-being and education of our students. Many of the struggles occur due to a lack of basic essentials and necessities in this high-poverty, low-income environment. Moreover, these challenges contribute to an evolved mental health population that affects the overall behaviors of our youth. Children Incorporated helps by providing additional support and resources to the students and their families to aid in breaking this cycle. Further, these supports and resources can empower our youth to matriculate appropriately through their educational career. Ultimately, Children Incorporated helps provide a foundation that removes barriers and improves the social and emotional challenges that negatively affect our students.

One of our students lost everything in a fire, except the clothes she had on. We were able to provide the student with clothes; she was provided with shirts, pants, socks, underwear, pajamas and a jacket. The family reported that because of the assistance they were able to comfortably finish the school term. Two other students did not have housing and stayed in a hotel for 60 days until they were moved into permanent placement. We were able to provide Christmas gifts for them, along with groceries, all thanks to the support these children receive from Children Incorporated.

*Name changed to protect the child.

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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 that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Renee Kube

Renée oversees Children Incorporated’s work in the United States – from the rural southeast and southwest to our urban areas in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. She works closely with our network of more than 100 volunteer coordinators at each affiliated site. For sixteen years, Renée managed our sites in the Appalachian Region before taking her current role in 2010.

» more of Renee's stories

For nearly two decades, our former volunteer coordinator at Menifee County Middle and High Schools, Melanie, worked closely with children in our program who struggled having very little consistency in their lives outside of the support they received from their sponsors. Today, we hear from Melanie, who retired from her position last year, about how Children Incorporated was so important for her students during her many years as the school’s resource center coordinator.

“Working with middle and high school students, I have seen first-hand how not having the basic resources others do is detrimental.”

Melanie’s Letter

I have been at Menifee County Youth Services Center for over 19 years and have had the pleasure of working with Children Incorporated for most of those years. Working with middle and high school students, I have seen firsthand how not having the basic resources others do is detrimental. It’s a huge part of that age group to want to just fit in. I am so thankful for Children Incorporated and the sponsors we have for our students here. Because of them we are truly able to provide our students with their basic needs so that they are able to come to school and focus on learning.

I have one middle school student in particular who would not even have the basic things we all take for granted without this program. He lives with a single father and two older siblings. Over the years, we have been able to provide the much-needed clothing, coats, and shoes for him. He is non-verbal, so I rely a lot on his teachers. They are wonderful with letting me know all his needs throughout the year and his wants at Christmas. 

Because of Children Incorporated, not only are his basic needs provided for, but we were able to get him a few learning and educational toys to help him with his motor skills. Children Incorporated has been a blessing for this child who unfortunately may have otherwise fallen through the cracks. With Children Incorporated’s help of Hope In Action funds we have also been able to provide this student and his family with food each week through our Meals to Grow program. I cannot say enough good things about the difference that Children Incorporated and its sponsors have made in this particular child’s life. Thank you! 

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Children Incorporated

We provide children living in poverty with education, hope and opportunity so they have the chance for a brighter future. Thanks to past and current supporters around the globe, we work with 225 affiliated sites in 20 countries to offer basic needs, emergency relief, and community support to thousands of children and their families each year.

» more of Children's stories

As our Director of International Programs Luis Bourdet continues his travels in India visiting our affiliated sites in the country, he tells us about the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel, in which children in our program are in need of beds and linens for a comfortable night’s rest.

“Thankfully, the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel is able to provide boarding, nutrition, and a quality education for area girls who come from families living in poverty.”

About the Lou Ann Long GIRLS’ HOSTEL

“The small town of Yadgiri, where the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel is located, is in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Drought is a constant threat in this agricultural community, and employment opportunities are severely limited. Field laborers earn an average of only forty cents a day and struggle to provide even the most basic necessities for their children,” said Luis.

“Moreover, with shorter life expectancies, much lower literacy rates, and a markedly inferior social and economic status than males, young women in India begin life at a disadvantage. Thankfully, the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel is able to provide boarding, nutrition, and a quality education for area girls who come from families living in poverty. At the home, deserving young women receive the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances they face.”

“The home is administered by the Methodist Church of India, and like the Chandrakal Boarding Home, it receives our support through the main office of the Methodist Church, as well as from Children Incorporated,” said Luis.

“Children at this home stay here during the educational year, and some stay during school breaks as well. Most of the children will be going home during school breaks (India follows a similar school year to the U.S.). Children Incorporated support is utilized to cover the cost of staying in the home, including the provision of food, educational supplies, clothing and shoes, as well as food support for the families when large additional gifts are sent closer to their breaks.”

Seeing the home for himself

“Currently, the girls at Lou Ann Long are staying at a dorm built with the support of Children Incorporated. However, the administrators are using the former dorm for the girls for playing and other recreational activities. The children attend a local school, located not far from this facility, also run by the Methodist Church. They are all enrolled in that school, with the exception of a couple of girls that are attending university thanks to sponsorship support through our Higher Education Fund,” said Luis.

“During my visit, I noticed that the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel does not have beds for the children, as it is customary for them to sleep on small mats on the floor. I have mentioned that we could provide beds, so we are working on this support. Lou Ann Long also needs some improvements to the facilities. They mentioned that the building would be better with a touch of paint and perhaps sealing the roofs to avoid leaking. Because of the lack of funding, prevention is not the primary focus for these centers, as they live month-to-month. I will follow up to see what Children Incorporated could do to support these needs as well.”

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

While visiting our affiliated sites in India this past fall, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, met with Chinna Ramavath, who is now Dr. Ramavath, thanks to support he received from our Higher Education Fund. Today, Luis recounts his time meeting with Chinna while in Guntur in October, in which Chinna caught him up on what his life is like now thanks to support from Children Incorporated.

“Chinna was one of the first enrolled in our program when he was eight years old. His father was a rice paddy worker, making about $50-60 a month for the upkeep of the family, which was very difficult for him to support his family on,” said Luis.

Helping an entire village

Chinna is pictured filling out a medical report with some of his patients in India.

“Chinna and his family lived in St. Francis in Mellavagu, which is a small rural community, about 60 miles away from the city of Guntur. Chinna completed his primary and secondary school in the area. After that, and with the help  OF Children Incorporated and his sponsor, Chinna was accepted in the School of Medicine near Guntur. Without this help, Chinna would not have had a chance to even finish primary and secondary school, let alone attend university. He graduated as a doctor and pharmacist, a newly implemented career option at the time in India. He then worked as a government doctor near Guntur, and of course, his salary was a bit larger than his father’s!”

“One time while visiting with Chinna, he asked me what he could do to give back the support he received from Children Incorporated to make his dreams a reality, and I replied, ‘Please help your family, help yourself, and help your village.’ Chinna is now a doctor working for the Indian government near where he grew up, helping his own community. We are very proud of him and all his hard work!” said Luis.

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Shelley Callahan

Shelley is the Director of Development for Children Incorporated. She is also the lead social correspondent, regularly contributing insights through the Stories of Hope blog series. Sign up for Stories of Hope to receive weekly email updates about how your donations are changing the lives of children in need.

» more of Shelley's stories

As I continued my trip to visit our affiliated sites in Martin County, Kentucky, I visited Eden Elementary School, where I had the chance to reconnect with our volunteer coordinator, Marlena, after a few years. She and her assistant, Kelli, welcomed me with open arms as I arrived to the resource center.

SEEING EDEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Marlena and Kelli are very appreciative of the Children Incorporated program, and I got the impression from them, as well as from the other Martin County coordinators, that our organization is able to help in ways other organizations are not able to. The resource center in Martin County really depends on Children Incorporated a great deal, and all of the coordinators say they would be lost without Children Incorporated support.

Hearing this made me that much more grateful for our sponsors and what they do for the children in our program.

During our meeting, Marlena shared that she is seeing an increase in severe poverty in her area. Many families live in literal shacks, and the number of household members in one home is sometimes astronomical. They recently learned of one child whose family consisted of sixteen people (both related and non-related), living in a small two-bedroom apartment. She also talked about the number of families living in dwellings without electricity and/or running water. Marlena stated that she thinks Martin County is about 20 years behind the rest of Kentucky in how people live. Hearing this made me that much more grateful for our sponsors and what they do for the children in our program.

Visiting Inez Elementary

Ron is pictured with one of our many sponsored children in Martin County, Kentucky.

I was warmly greeted by Andrea, the site coordinator at Inez Elementary School during my next school visit, along with a little girl named Sabrina.* Andrea brought Sabrina in at the start of our time together just so I could meet and speak with a Children Incorporated sponsored child. Sabrina was very sweet and talkative.

Andrea is very passionate about the children and families she serves, and she truly seems to care about their welfare. She stated that she believes the start of helping children to succeed is to make sure they have clean and comfortable places to sleep at home so that they may get proper rest. She said she could not even tell me the number of children who do not even have a pillow of their own. Andrea often provides beds, mattresses, pillows, and bedding to children in our sponsorship program, as well as others in the school who are in need. She said, “Ron, I can’t tell you the number of children that Children Incorporated has gotten up off of the floor!”

 Andrea talked about a program she started at Inez Elementary specifically for girls in fifth and sixth grades. She said she and others had noticed a lot of bullying and “mean girl” behavior among girls of this age, so they started a club that meets weekly to help break down barriers and teach the girls to be nicer to one another. The girls are encouraged to journal, and then during club meetings, they share their personal thoughts and insecurities. Andrea said that when the girls share openly like this, they reveal the ways they are all alike, and often it is a matter of the girls having low self-image and low self-value. She said that behaviors have improved a great deal since this program was begun.

As my trip came to an end, I found myself thinking just how impressed I was with all of these kind-hearted and warm people who truly care about the children they and we serve.

onward to Warfield Elementary

Next, I met with Amanda at Warfield Elementary School. She bragged quite a bit about the Planting Seeds of Love program that is implemented in all of the Martin County schools before she brought in one little girl for me to meet. Her name was Allison.* Allison was a friendly child and told me how much she has enjoyed the gardening program with her grandmother. She looks forward to spring when they can plant their garden together again.

All of the Martin County coordinators were enthusiastic about the Planting Seeds of Love program, and they all expressed extreme gratitude towards Children Incorporated sponsors and donors for help in funding that program. The coordinators said that parents and grandparents have been overwhelmingly supportive of planting and tending their own gardens and then canning their own vegetables for use in winter. Overall, the program has been a huge success, and the schools will all offer it again in the spring. The program not only provides food for these families, but it is also a big bonding opportunity for parents and children.

As my trip came to an end, I found myself thinking just how impressed I was with all of these kind-hearted and warm people who truly care about the children they and we serve.

*Names changed to protect the children. 

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

We love receiving letters from our volunteer coordinators because they offer such amazing insight into how our sponsors are helping children in need around the world. Today, we share a letter from Jessica at Piney Creek Elementary School about how she is able to help her students, all thanks to our supporters.

“Without Children Incorporated, our students face low confidence, shame, and embarrassment from not having the items that they need.”

Jessica’s Letter

“The 2022-2023 school year has been a grateful return to normal after the uncertainties and changes presented by the global pandemic. We have seen tremendous growth and success in our students as they settle back into a routine. Piney Creek School strives to provide fun and engaging learning experiences for our students to cultivate a passion for continued learning and to give students an opportunity to be empowered, successful, and self-directed learners. The funds provided by Children Incorporated assist us in helping students to reach their fullest potential so that they are successful in high school, college and beyond.”

“This year, Piney Creek School has served 39 students through Children Incorporated. While this is a decrease since last year, our small school and community continues to grow and prosper as we focus on providing our students and their families’ needs. The total of 39 breaks down further to 18 males and 21 females. Several of our Children Incorporated students come from single parent homes, are raised by grandparents, or are in foster care. We are excited to share that this school year, Children Incorporated has allowed these 39 students to receive book fair books, school pictures, food, clothing, hygiene items, and so much more!”

Our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, is pictured with one of our sponsored children at Piney Creek Elementary School.

“Piney Creek School is proud to recognize students for their academic achievements throughout the school year through BETA club for seventh and eighth grade students. This year, the BETA Club induction included new Children Incorporated student Suzanne*, who is a phenomenal student and a great addition to our small school. Our BETA coordinator also submitted poems written by several of our Children Incorporated students to a national contest, and their poems were selected to be published. Two other Children Incorporated students, Sarah and Becka*, were also part of the Battle of the Books team that won the Battle of Books competition, reclaiming the trophy this year.”

“Middle school students at Piney Creek look forward to learning about our environment and ecosystem each year. Through Piney Creek Schools’ science classes, the Soil and Water Conservation District provided students with the opportunity to compete at the county level through essays, posters, and speeches to display their knowledge and understanding of our environment compared to other schools in the area. Students are judged at the school level and then move on to the county level to compete against other schools in the same district before moving on to regionals. Children Incorporated student Sarah placed 3rd in the local Soil and Water Conservation contest this year. She was also a Patriot’s Pen Essay Winner for her essay entitled ‘How are you inspired by America?’.”

“The staff, students, and community here at Piney Creek School are truly grateful for Children Incorporated and the numerous opportunities provided each year.”

“While we are so proud of our Children Incorporated students at Piney Creek School for their academic accomplishments, we are also tremendously touched by the opportunities that some of our students received through the Children Incorporated program. This year we have also added a new program at Piney Creek School titled ‘PCS Care Kits.’ Every month, we send home an order form with our Children Incorporated students that lists various hygienic supplies the students may need. Upon their return, we pack bags with essentials like hairbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, shampoo and much more based on their selections. The first month of the program, we packed 31 bags to send home with students.”

“Without the funds provided by Children Incorporated and their sponsors, our small school would not have the means to bestow these resources to our Children Incorporated families. The mother of Children Incorporated students Whitney and Layla* expressed to me how much receiving the hygienic products each month means to her family. We are able to spread a sense of hope, comfort and confidence through the program. None of this could be accomplished without the donations of Children Incorporated sponsors.”

“Without Children Incorporated, our students face low confidence, shame, and embarrassment from not having the items that they need. Some children would be unable to wear clean, new, and well-fitting clothes to school, have a new book bag packed with supplies to start the year, lack proper hygiene, and even be without food or snacks. The staff, students, and community here at Piney Creek School are truly grateful for Children Incorporated and the numerous opportunities provided each year.”

Sincerely,
Jessica

*Names have been changed to protect the children.

***

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Children Incorporated

We provide children living in poverty with education, hope and opportunity so they have the chance for a brighter future. Thanks to past and current supporters around the globe, we work with 225 affiliated sites in 20 countries to offer basic needs, emergency relief, and community support to thousands of children and their families each year.

» more of Children's stories