Tag Archives: kentucky

Art for the Soul and the Mind

When we think about what constitutes a well-rounded education for a child, what might first pop into our heads are academic subjects like math, science, and English. The arts, though, can have just as much of a significant impact on a child’s development, character, and personality as other core subjects. This is exactly why our volunteer coordinator at our affiliated project Belfry Elementary School is working hard to bring an arts camp to children enrolled in our program.

Eugenia feels that an art camp would not only be a good way to keep kids busy so they don’t get into trouble, but art could also encourage their mental, social, and emotional development.

On a recent visit to Pike County, Kentucky, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with our Volunteer Coordinator Eugenia, who told Renée about her desire to create a Belfry-area summer arts camp for the students at her school and others nearby. She explained that in previous years, kids have attended a local church’s vacation Bible school during summer break. The church is no longer offering the camp, however, due to a lack of finances.

Eugenia is concerned that, without activities to keep them occupied in the summer, children won’t be safe at home alone while their parents are working. She is also worried that, without the school lunches that they usually receive during the school year, students from impoverished families will go hungry in the summer months. In addition, Eugenia feels that an art camp would not only be a good way to keep kids busy so they don’t get into trouble, but art could also encourage their mental, social, and emotional development.

Why art matters

Eugenia with one of our sponsored children

Art and creativity can benefit children in a variety of ways. Holding a paintbrush, crayon, or marker helps a child to develop their fine motor skills, as well as improves their ability to problem-solve. Drawing and painting can promote patience and determination for kids, because it gives them a task that they feel driven to complete. Since art is also a vehicle for emotion, children can work through ideas and issues when they exercise their creativity. Many children in our program have witnessed abuse or addiction, or they face depression and anxiety in their own lives or in the lives of those that surround them. Art can help them to express their feelings, which is crucial for them as they deal with past and present traumas, or other adversity in their lives.

A coordinator who goes above and beyond

Eugenia’s work goes beyond developing a summer arts program in order to support our sponsored and unsponsored children. She also ensures that the kids in her care are receiving exactly what they need in order to attend classes. She sends a letter home at the start of each school year asking parents for their kids’ clothes and shoe sizes. She also inquires as to what kinds of school supplies they would like to have. Then she shops for the students.

She also partners with a local hair salon, “Just Teasin’,” so that all the children enrolled in our program get haircuts so they may start the new school year looking their very best. During the holidays, for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, Eugenia uses sponsorship funds to provide vouchers that families can use to purchase food at a local grocery store, and have a nice meal together to celebrate.

Before her visit was over, Renée let Eugenia know that Children Incorporated could provide support for her summer arts program from our Hope In Action Fund. Just as Eugenia is passionate about using art to help kids succeed, we at Children Incorporated also feel that art and creativity are an important part of a child’s education. Through academics and art, we hope that children are able to reach their full potential. With the support of our sponsors and donors to supplement special programs, kids will have the chance to overcome the difficult obstacles they face living in poverty.

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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.

Businesses Supporting Students

Pike County Central High School is the largest of five high schools in Pike County, Kentucky, with an enrollment of approximately 720 students. On a recent trip to Pike County, our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, met with our volunteer coordinator at the school, whose name is also Shelley. Our Volunteer Coordinator Shelley is the Youth Services Center (YSC) coordinator for the school; she describes the YSC as a safe space for all students of any economic background where they may freely come and go without judgment when they are in need of a new clothing item, shoes, school supplies, hygiene items, or a snack to eat.

Our Volunteer Coordinator Shelley explained that the children who are enrolled in our program – kids that she says are the most impoverished at the school – can visit her office for items they need without feeling embarrassed that their parents are unable to afford the school supplies they lack. Included among these necessities are book bags, notebooks, and socks.

Both businesses and our sponsorship program are helping children at Pike County Central High School.

Our Volunteer Coordinator Shelley says that with the sponsorship funds she receives every month, she especially likes to buy “school logo” clothes for her students; they help kids to feel like they fit in with the rest of their classmates. In the fall, sponsored and unsponsored children each receive a hoodie, a long-sleeved shirt, and sweatpants; and in the spring, another long-sleeved shirt and a couple of T-shirts. She supplements the clothes with hygiene items like soap and shampoo, or other special necessities, depending on what each student’s particular needs are, throughout the school year.

A unique place 

During the visit, our Volunteer Coordinator Shelley explained that her school is unique as a result of its close proximity to Pikeville, the county seat or governmental center of the county. Since the school is nearby, several Pikeville businesses support its resource center with food and clothing drives, which are a great help in keeping supplies stocked all year long. When she can, she tries to share with the other high schools in the area, like Phelps and East Ridge, which do not have as much local support due to their remote locations. Our Volunteer Coordinator Shelley is hopeful that, with the recent uptick in businesses and factories moving into the area, there is potential not only for more jobs for graduating seniors from Pike County Central High School and their parents, but also for more support for the center from local businesses.

Why small businesses help

Just like us, they, too, believe in the value of helping children succeed, and in giving them the chance that they deserve to have education, hope, and opportunity in their lives.

Businesses choose to help support kids in need for a variety of reasons. For starters, there are tax benefits for doing so. Donating to a qualified tax-exempt organization that falls under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code means that a business may deduct these contributions in its tax return. There are also marketing opportunities for businesses to advertise the philanthropic donations they make; non-profits may, in turn, publicize support as well. Additional possibilities for networking with new potential clients may present themselves, too, as a result of a business-charity partnership.

Working with charities may also offer volunteer opportunities for a business’ employees; and many companies offer matching gifts programs for employees to participate in. Despite the many benefits for businesses themselves, however, business owners oftentimes support charities simply because they want to give back to their own communities. Just like us, they, too, believe in the value of helping children succeed, and in giving them the chance that they deserve to have education, hope, and opportunity in their lives.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

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

High Enrollment and High Hopes in Kentucky

Nestled in picturesque mountains and steeped in a rich cultural heritage, Pike County is situated in the very heart of Appalachia – an economically depressed area that stretches from the Virginias to Tennessee and Kentucky. This was once a thriving region, as a result of the success of its then bustling coal and lumber industries. In 1994, however, the Eastern Division of The Pittston Company closed its coal mines.

Today, rampant unemployment and widespread poverty paint a somber life in Pike County.

Unfortunately, rugged terrain has effectively blocked other industries from settling in this part of Kentucky. Thus, as mines closed, those who had spent their lives working underground could not find new employment opportunities above. Today, rampant unemployment and widespread poverty paint a somber life in Pike County. Their debilitating effects impact not only the adults there; hunger and cold nights in bed are the plight of too many children in this area, as their parents struggle to make ends meet.

On a recent trip to Pike County, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, and our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, visited Valley Elementary School. There, they met with our Volunteer Coordinator Betty. Valley Elementary School has an extremely high enrollment of almost 1,000 students, from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Despite a large number of students at the school, with the help of the resource center and our program, Betty is hopeful that her efforts are making a big difference for children who are coming from impoverished households.

Betty explained to Renée and Shelley that she loves the flexibility of the Children Incorporated sponsorship program. It is very helpful to her to have the ability to purchase a wide variety of items for students, depending on their individual home situations. This way, she is able to make specific purchases in meeting the individualized needs of each child in her care. She said that our sponsored and unsponsored children are constantly in need of clothes and shoes; she also provides them with school supplies and food baskets often.

Meeting a special sponsored child

During their visit, Renée and Shelley met with a few students who are enrolled in our sponsorship program. One student in particular stood out to them: Sarah* is in the eighth grade, and she lives with her parents and two sisters. She genuinely appreciates the support she receives from her sponsor.

Sarah anxiously awaits the items that she receives regularly thanks to monthly contributions. These donations especially help her in obtaining new shoes and clothing that she otherwise would go without. Betty also purchases art supplies for Sarah using her sponsorship funds, because Sarah loves art. She told Renée and Shelley that her family cannot afford art supplies, so she is incredibly grateful that her sponsor helps to support this passion of hers.

Internet famous

Before leaving Valley Elementary School, Betty showed Renée and Shelley a video of some of the third-grade students there who have become quite well-known on social media. The children were learning about coal mining and the industry in class, and their teacher challenged them to make a video demonstrating some of what they’d learned about the subject. The video would be entered into a much-anticipated annual community event – the CEDAR, Inc. Coal Fair.

With help from local high school students, the third-graders sang to the tune of Taylor Swift’s recent hit “Shake It Off”. After three days of filming, they finished the video, called “Mine the Coal”. When the fair was over, their teacher posted the video on her personal Facebook page, where it was widely shared, and where it has now accumulated more than 215,000 views. Along with Valley Elementary being a big school, its students are also a big hit on the internet!

*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.

25 Years in Pike County

Recently, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, and our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, visited one of our longest-standing and most stable partnerships – the Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) of Pike County in Kentucky. Children Incorporated began our outreach in Kentucky not long after the founding of our organization in 1964. At that time, our program was in only one county in the state: Menifee. Unfortunately, when our volunteer coordinator in Menifee County retired a few years later, no one was able to step in and take her place; so that project site was reluctantly closed.

In order to continue helping children in need in the Appalachian Region of the United States, one of our staff members at the time, Dorothy Carver, went to our founder, Mrs. Jeanne Clarke Wood, with an interesting proposal: her husband was relocating for work from Richmond, Virginia, where our headquarters was located at the time, to North Carolina. Mrs. Carver offered to reinstate our Appalachian Division with a focus in western North Carolina, where extreme poverty was rampant. Mrs. Wood agreed; once Mrs. Carver relocated to North Carolina, she began traveling regularly, steadily expanding our sponsorship program in the state.

Today, Children Incorporated is affiliated with all seventeen public schools in Pike County, which is the easternmost and largest county in North Carolina.

A Breakfast for Champions

In 1990, when Mrs. Carver retired, our Appalachian Division consisted of 32 projects in western North Carolina. Her assistant, Irene LeCroy, took her place as the new Appalachian Division Director. Mrs. LeCroy worked hard to continue to expand our work with impoverished children and their families. She wanted Children Incorporated to acquire affiliations in Kentucky, as well as move into West Virginia. It was she who first learned of Kentucky’s newly-developed Family Resource and Youth Services Center. Thanks to Mrs. LeCroy, our first re-affiliations since the early 1970s were in Pike County, Kentucky. The first was Kimper Elementary School in March of 1993 – and more and more were added over the years.

Today, Children Incorporated is affiliated with all seventeen public schools in Pike County, which is the easternmost and largest county in Kentucky, encompassing 788 square miles. It has a rugged mountainous terrain, with narrow river valleys and great scenic beauty. However, the continuing decline of the coal industry has yielded high rates of unemployment; underemployment; and rural out-migration, in which families are forced to leave their homes in search of steady work elsewhere. The county’s child poverty rate is 29 percent – and twelve percent of those kids live in deep poverty, in which their families’ incomes are less than half the poverty threshold.

We are incredibly grateful for our coordinators in Pike County, who work hard every day to ensure children’s needs are met.

Since this year marks Children Incorporated’s 25th anniversary of our work in Pike County, Renée and Shelley decided to start their week-long trip of visits to our affiliated schools in the area with a breakfast meeting to acknowledge the FRYSC coordinators, who also serve as our volunteer coordinators. Renée and Shelley invited all seventeen coordinators, as well as Mr. Robert Osborne, who is the Director of Federal Programs for the Pike County Board of Education, and who supervises our coordinators there.

Renée and Shelley hosted a fun breakfast, getting all the coordinators together to reminisce about how Children Incorporated sponsors and donors have facilitated their work helping kids in Eastern Kentucky over the years. Renée and Shelley also made it a point to express their gratitude to the coordinators for dedicating so much time and effort to ensuring that their students benefit fully from their sponsors’ crucial support.

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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 Quality Education for Children in Bolivia

The small landlocked nation of Bolivia comprises the rugged Andes Mountains and vast high-altitude plateaus to the west, including a portion of Lake Titicaca – the largest high-altitude lake in the world. To the east are the lush lowland plains of the Amazon Jungle. Despite its wealth of natural beauty and resources, Bolivia bears the scars of centuries of conflict, beginning with the Spanish conquistadors, and followed by almost 200 years of wars and internal military coups. Political and economic instability have brought about considerable poverty there, resulting in widespread malnutrition, crime, and disease.

Yotala, an agricultural suburb of Sucre, is no exception to these hardships. The area is prone to drought, which not only diminishes crop yield, but it also forces families to purchase water for drinking and bathing. Many people in this community are very poor; they rarely manage to grow enough food to feed their families, much less to sell at the market. The Santa Rosa School was founded to assist the children of Yotala’s subsistence farming families. The school teaches core academic subjects, and it has received recognition in Bolivia with high honors for its biology and geography classes.

Children need to attend school to succeed; but more critically, they must attend schools where they are being taught by trained professionals – which is just the case at the Santa Rosa School.

A great institution

Children need to attend school to succeed; but more critically, they must attend schools where they are being taught by trained professionals – which is just the case at the Santa Rosa School. There are sixteen professors at the school – a large number compared to many schools – which means that the children there are attending a great institution where they learn daily and are prepared for moving on to receive a higher education.

Not only is the Santa Rosa School acclaimed for its academics, but it also offers skills training in such areas as weaving, agronomy, dressmaking, carpentry, computer literacy, and hairdressing. The school encourages parental involvement. Since many parents of students there are illiterate or only speak Quechua, the school offers them educational courses, along with general courses on parenting skills and nutrition – all of which afford them the opportunity to obtain better jobs and earn a greater income, which is helpful for their entire families.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BOLIVIA?

 

You can sponsor a child in Bolivia one of three ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; e-mail us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Bolivia that is available for sponsorship.

The Perception of Giving

When Danielle* was a sponsored child with Children Incorporated, she dreamed of going to college – but her family couldn’t afford it. So before she graduated from high school, with the help of our volunteer coordinator at her school in Kentucky, Danielle applied for assistance from our Higher Education Fund.

Thankfully, because of our wonderful donors and supporters, we had the funds available to grant Danielle’s request for support; and she went on to pursue a degree in education at Morehead State University. At that time, Danielle said, “The Children Incorporated sponsorship program has really changed my life and my perception of giving. I want to share that with absolutely everyone that I can. Thank you all so much for everything that you do. I am grateful that the Children Incorporated program is giving me the opportunity to reach my dreams.”

“I am so grateful that someone saw the ability in me to spend day in and day out with ‘those kids’ – because I love them as my own.”
– Danielle

Helping troubled youth

After graduating from college in 2011, Danielle accepted a position teaching middle school students in Western Kentucky. Then, in 2016, ready for a new challenge, Danielle accepted a position teaching troubled youth in Tennessee. She wrote to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, about her experience working with these special kids after her first year on the job.

Danielle stated, “Around this time a year ago, I interviewed for a position as a teacher at an alternative school in Knoxville. I never imagined what a wonderful fit the position would be for me – perhaps not until today, as my first school year comes to an end. Educators often look at the troubled children in school and want someone else to ‘deal with them’. Until working with these kids daily, I had also felt that way.”

A caring educator

Danielle continued, “But now, only two days into summer break, my mind is racing with questions: Are the kids hungry? Are they staying off the streets? Are they emotionally okay today? Has someone told them good morning and made them realize their value today? My strongest and weakest personality trait as an educator is that I care so very deeply. I tell my kids I love them daily, even when they seem unlovable. Creating a classroom that allows students to open up and share their stories is part of who I am as an educator – and do they ever share their stories!

Help children in need

Danielle is an advocate for her students.

“If I am not going to be there one day, I see the importance of letting them know that I will be absent, because for some of them, their teachers are their only stability. This time last year, I had no idea that I would be the teacher I am now. I am the one who cries for weeks after a student is arrested, because they possess so much value. I am the one who believes in the kids that no one ever believes in; the one who will stop class to help a student who is all out of sorts; and the one who makes it a priority to know every bit of a child’s life, and to help them work through difficulties. My students and co-workers have been my source of learning and growing this year. I am so grateful that someone saw the ability in me to spend day in and day out with ‘those kids’ – because I love them as my own.”

It is obvious that Danielle is a caring and outstanding educator, and that she is an advocate for her students. A lot of the questions that she asks about her troubled students are the exact same questions that our volunteer coordinators ask about the children enrolled in our sponsorship program. Here at Children Incorporated, we are so proud of Danielle. She is an amazing, self-supporting person who beautifully showcases the importance of both our sponsorship program and our Higher Education Fund.

*Name changed for individual’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.