Tag Archives: kentucky

The History of Our U.S. Programs

We are very proud of our U.S. Programs, which support children not only in rural areas of the United States, but in urban areas as well. Just as all organizations do, we started out small, with only a few affiliated projects; and we gradually added more over time.

When Children Incorporated began in 1964, our focus was on one country in particular: Guatemala. Soon, we started to offer assistance in the United States, too. By the late 1960s, our U.S. Programs Division consisted of one site in Menifee, Kentucky, one site in Rutledge, Tennessee, and a few sites near Farmington, New Mexico. Just twenty years later, we encompassed two divisions in four states: an Appalachian Division in North Carolina; and a Native American Division in Arizona, New Mexico, and North Dakota. The organization lost its connections with sites in Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Dakota after a while. By the late 1980s, we had expanded to 32 projects total in North Carolina, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Growing fast

During the mid to late 1990s, our U.S. Programs Division experienced its greatest growth period. Appalachian affiliations were initiated in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. The organization began to focus on the state of Kentucky again, and we developed a partnership with Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC). By partnering with these centers, Children Incorporated was able to expand our program throughout many counties in Eastern Kentucky. Our Native American Division simultaneously began making affiliations in South Dakota and Utah.

Today, we affiliate with 147 projects in New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. to help thousands of children in the United States every day.

Addressing urban and rural poverty

By the early 2000s, the need for our program in urban areas became apparent; so Children Incorporated decided to tackle the issue head-on. After focusing on rural poverty during much of our history, we felt the need to address and respond to urban poverty. By partnering with Communities In Schools (CIS), a school dropout prevention program that works in public school systems in the United States, we were able to expand our outreach even further, and assist children in Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Richmond, Virginia; and New Orleans.

Today, we affiliate with 147 projects in New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. to help thousands of children in the United States every day, by providing them with basic needs so they can attend school, obtain an education, and have the opportunities they deserve and need to succeed in life.

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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 donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in the United States who is available for sponsorship.

A Letter of Appreciation

Located in the idyllic mountainous Eastern Kentucky Coalfield, Magoffin County, where our affiliated project Salyersville Elementary School is located, holds the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest poverty rates in the state. The coal mining industry once employed the majority of the area’s workforce. However, with the recent sharp decline of the industry, many area families have turned to small-scale and low-wage farming in order to provide for themselves; and unemployment and poverty have become intrinsic to Salyersville’s people.

Thankfully, our Volunteer Coordinator at Salyersville Elementary School, Alice, has the Children Incorporated program to rely on to help sponsored and unsponsored children receive basic needs, which not only helps kids, but their families as well. To explain the impact our program has on our sponsored and unsponsored children at the school, Alice wrote a letter to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, about how important sponsors and sponsorship are to kids living in poverty.

Bringing smiles to kids’ faces

In her letter, Alice wrote, “Children Incorporated is truly a blessing to my community. It has brought so many smiles to the children’s faces. There are so many kids that benefit from this organization. Without help from this program, so many of our kids would do without. I am truly amazed at all the things sponsors through Children Incorporated do. To see these kids get packages from a ‘stranger’ that loves them is beyond them. It is breathtaking to see what just a note or card can do.

“Putting a smile on a child’s face is a miracle in itself. Coming from a family that has had its share of hardship, I personally know the feeling of not having material things like other kids. It makes me want to succeed as a volunteer coordinator for Children Incorporated. That helping hand makes more of a difference than anyone can ever imagine. Many kids and families take for granted the opportunity they have in being able to just go out and purchase new things for school – when other children have nothing. This program means the difference between a child being able to have their basic needs met for school and a child doing without.”

A thoughtful gift

“I would like to say thank you for everything that you do for our kids. With your help, our kids can have a brighter future.”

Alice continued, “I will never forget when one of my new students got a care package from her new sponsor. This girl was very hesitant to open the box. I explained to her that it was a gift from her sponsor, and I told her they wanted her to have what was inside. This girl, with a tear in her eye, says, ‘Why would anyone buy me something?’ My heart broke. I wanted to break down and cry. As I sat there with my heart in pieces I stood up and grabbed her in my arms and hugged her, and asked her, ‘Why not?’

“As she opened the box, she looked with the biggest eyes. It was filled with clothes, art supplies, toys, and snacks. She leaned over into the box and grabbed a box of snacks and said, ‘Wow! I finally got snacks for school. I can’t wait to show my daddy. He will be so excited.’ As she went through her box of goodies, she showed me each piece, and kept smiling and hopping around with excitement the entire time. She had to lay all her clothes out and look them over. She rubbed the soft footie to her face, and I truly cherished every moment she pulled something new out of her box.

“I would like to say thank you for everything that you do for our kids. With your help, our kids can have a brighter future.”

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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.

Going the Extra Mile for Kids in Need

Summers can be rather boring for children. While kids usually love the thought of being out of school and free from homework assignments, they often have a difficult time staying occupied and active. One woman from Warfield, Kentucky found a way to change that this summer. Denise Stepp, who serves jointly as the coordinator for the Warfield Elementary School Family Resource Center and as a volunteer coordinator for Children Incorporated’s child sponsorship program, established a gardening program at her school. As a result, not only do the children keep busy and have fun, but Denise has also provided a service to many families in the community.

Denise, who loves gardening, decided to share her green thumb skills with the students that she serves. She went to the school principal and asked for permission to begin a food-to-table gardening program that the students, out on their summer break, would oversee. He gave his blessing for a large plot of land behind the school, and he wrote a grant for a small greenhouse and gardening supplies. Denise rounded up the children and got them excited about planting, caring for, and harvesting the food they would grow. Children Incorporated then provided funds so that Denise could purchase a compost barrel in order to help the children learn how compost enriches garden soil.

Denise has been volunteering for Children Incorporated for over twenty years, and during this time, she has worked constantly to remove barriers between home and school by providing various resources and services.

Denise’s summer gardening camp ran every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer, and she and her helpers worked with the kids on gardening techniques. Funds from Children Incorporated allowed Denise to buy supplies such as canning jars and freezer bags to preserve the garden food. The children have loved participating in the summer gardening camp! They have taken part in many hands-on learning activities, from baking muffins with zucchini they themselves have grown to making sauerkraut from their cabbage harvest – and they’ve taken jars and bags full of freshly-picked vegetables home to be shared with their families.

A long-time volunteer

Denise has been volunteering for Children Incorporated for over twenty years, and during this time, she has worked constantly to remove barriers between home and school by providing various resources and services. The Warfield community was once a coal-producing area; however, as a result of a decline in the coal business, there is now a high unemployment there. The community now has a 93 percent poverty rate. There are a lot of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, and there are many single-parent families. The children endure great poverty, and some come from rather unstable homes. Denise cares deeply about the students she serves, and she goes the extra mile to show them love and support. Her job does not end at 3:00 p.m. with the close of the school day. She takes the job home with her; it is consistently on her mind.

Denise doesn’t just talk the talk – she walks the walk. Thanks to the child sponsorship program at the school and additional contributions from Children Incorporated, Denise is able to ensure that many children receive basic needs that support their well-being and health, such as clothing and shoes, and also school supplies, books, and backpacks. Under her guidance, the school system also held a summer feeding program, which transported breakfasts and lunches to 600 children Monday through Friday all summer long.

As the new school year begins, corn and potatoes will be harvested from the summer garden, and used to prepare food for the students and families on Kentucky Heritage Day. On October 13 of this year, Denise will host a pig roast, and the children will experience the rewards of their hard work by enjoying foods prepared with vegetables they’ve grown. . The school garden has given the children responsibility and a sense of ownership of their school. They take pride in the building, and vandalism is at an all-time low. They are also learning to eat more vegetables in order to be healthy and fight obesity. Much of this is due to the dedication and love displayed by Denise Stepp.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

You can sponsor a child in Kentucky in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Helping Kayla to See

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

The gift of sight

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

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

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE HOPE IN ACTION FUND?

You can donate to our Hope In Action Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or go online and make a donation on our website.

Our Back to School Fund in Action

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for many children who attend our affiliated schools in Eastern Kentucky to not have proper clothes and shoes, let alone school supplies, throughout the school year. In a part of the U.S. where poverty is rampant, oftentimes, parents don’t have enough money to pay the bills or to buy their children new, necessary items when needed. Thankfully, some children living in Kentucky have the Children Incorporated program and our volunteer coordinators, along with our Back to School Fund, to rely on to provide for them when they need help the most.

Kevin desperately needed new shoes.

Last year, one of our volunteer coordinators in Kentucky, Gloria, noticed in a school hallway that seven-year-old Kevin’s* shoes were falling apart. Kevin, who at the time was enrolled in our program but waiting for a sponsor, wore shoes that were covered in duct tape – they were so covered that Gloria could barely see the shoes themselves. When she asked Kevin about his shoes, he said that his mom had tried to fix them when the soles came unglued, but duct tape was all she had, and she couldn’t afford to buy him a new pair.

New shoes for Kevin

Gloria was able to find Kevin a gently-used replacement pair of shoes at the Resource Center at the school, and then she contacted our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, to see if Children Incorporated could help Kevin to get a new pair quickly. Thanks to our Back to School Fund, Renée was able to send funds to Gloria to get Kevin brand new shoes and a new school outfit, as well as some school supplies.

Today, Kevin has a sponsor who ensures each and every month that he is provided with the things he needs to be able to go to school without worry and to concentrate on doing well in his studies.

We are incredibly grateful for our sponsors and donors who contribute to our Back to School Fund to ensure that our sponsored and unsponsored children are being supported throughout the year. Without you, we couldn’t help children in need.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE BACK TO SCHOOL FUND?

You can donate to our Back to School Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or go online and make a donation on our website.

A Big School Making a Big Impact

Located in the town of Owingsville in Kentucky’s Bath County, Crossroads Elementary School is a consolidation of two of Children Incorporated’s former affiliated schools – Bethel and Salt Lick Elementary Schools. When the two older schools were shut down, one new school was built to replace them; and according to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, who recently visited Bath County, the school is huge.

Serving 496 children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, a large percentage of students there is living in poverty. 75 percent of the kids qualify for free meals. Many parents and guardians are small farmers, laborers, and service workers – they hold low-income jobs with little security. Many children are being raised by their grandparents, which is hard on their caretakers, especially the ones who have lived in poverty their whole lives.

Renée, Gloria, and a few of our sponsored kids at Crossroads Elementary School pose for a photo.

 

Upon arriving at Crossroads Elementary School, Renée was greeted by our Volunteer Coordinator, Gloria, whose plan was to have Renée visit the Resource Center, and then meet some of our sponsored kids before taking a tour of the school. Built just eight years ago, the school has a modern feel that was apparent from the second Renée stepped through its front doors.

Renée could see large classrooms on either side of the hallways as she and Gloria made their way to the Resource Center, the corridors bright and sparkling, as though they had just been cleaned. Even before seeing it in its entirety, Renée thought it was a beautiful school, and it made her happy to imagine how hundreds of children in attendance had a large, safe, clean environment in which to learn and grow. Over the years, Renée has visited many of our sponsored children’s homes, which are typically old, small, rundown, and unkempt – a reflection of the extreme poverty in which these families live.

Resources for everyone

When they arrived at the Resource Center, Gloria showed Renée some cabinets and plastic storage bins that were stuffed with food and gently-used clothes. She explained that any child or family can come chose what they need; and for some children, she sends food home with them on the weekends if she’s worried they won’t have anything to eat otherwise.

Shortly after Gloria finished showing Renée her supplies, Natalie*, one of our sponsored children, arrived at the Resource Center. Natalie is a sweet and shy second-grader who loves to read. She and her brother are being raised by their disabled grandparents in a small, old mobile home. Natalie benefits greatly from the support of her sponsor, who ensures through her contributions that she gets appropriately-sized clothes and shoes, and school supplies and hygiene items all year long, as she needs them.

Next, Renée met Kevin*, another sponsored child who Gloria knew really needed the additional help that sponsorship provides. Gloria enrolled Kevin in our sponsorship program last December, but sometimes it takes a while to find sponsors for kids; by spring of the following year, Kevin was still waiting to be sponsored. During that time, he went to school in shoes that were completely split open and covered in duct tape. When Gloria brought him to the Resource Center to ask him about the shoes, Kevin said, “My shoes broke and Mama fixed them because I can’t have new ones.”

Many children are being raised by their grandparents, which is hard on their caretakers, especially the ones who have lived in poverty their whole lives.

Gloria knows Kevin’s mother struggles intensely – she is raising three kids in a small mobile home, and her sole income comes from work at a fast food restaurant where she makes minimum wage. Gloria was able to go to her cabinet and find Kevin a pair of gently-used shoes that, although not brand new, were at least not held together with tape. Thankfully, Kevin got a sponsor shortly after the incident, and now he receives new shoes and clothes that fit him perfectly.

A beautiful school

After visiting with Natalie and Kevin, Gloria took Renée on a tour of the school, which is colorful and full of natural light all throughout it. The computer lab has the latest technology, and the library is full of thousands of books, with brightly painted murals on the walls, and fun carpets laid across the floors. Renée loved seeing all the different rooms in the school – she felt as though it offers a wonderfully warm atmosphere for learning, and that it really does serve as an oasis for our sponsored kids, who come from broken homes and instability.

Once they arrived at the gymnasium, Renée found a big group of kids watching performers do exercise routines for the children to learn and then copy. Something special set up by the principal to reward the students for good attendance, they snapped, stomped, shook, and jumped in place on the floor of the big gym, with its shiny floors and new mats and bleachers. Renée could tell the children were having a fabulous time, and she once again found herself feeling thankful that these children, who had enough to worry about at home, living in poverty, have a lovely school to enjoy.

*Names changed for children’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.