Tag Archives: kentucky

When Community Matters Most

It is an unfortunate reality that, when it comes to our affiliated projects around the world, including in urban and rural areas in the United States, we often hear from our volunteer coordinators that there just aren’t enough funds provided to them to help every child in need. Sometimes the reason is that a school’s budget has been cut, or the number of children in attendance is growing faster than the administration can keep up with; or maybe a significant donor is no longer able to fund certain programs, and no new donor has replaced them. Whatever the reason, a lack of funding means that children living in poverty suffer without basic resources, and they are at risk of falling behind in school.

Because funding isn’t always secure for the schools, community centers, and orphanages with which we partner, our volunteer coordinators are endlessly grateful for our sponsors and donors, who help the kids in their care that are enrolled in our program.

Because funding isn’t always secure for the schools, community centers, and orphanages with which we partner, our volunteer coordinators are endlessly grateful for our sponsors and donors, who help the kids in their care that are enrolled in our program. Donations from Children Incorporated don’t always cover the needs of every child at a project, however; and in many cases, our coordinators seek help from the surrounding community in order to ensure that kids living in poverty are getting what they need. One such volunteer coordinator who did just that is Deloris at Mullins Elementary School in Pike County, Kentucky.

Rebuilding her center

Sponsor a child in Kentucky.

Deloris shows Renée and Shelley her supply closet, which is full, thanks to a local church.

Mullins Elementary School is a spacious and well-equipped newer school located just outside the Pikeville city limits. Deloris originally worked in the school’s front office; then she was transferred to the family resource center when our last volunteer coordinator there, Tammy, retired a few years ago. On a trip to visit the school, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, and our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, met with Deloris, who explained that when she took over in her new position, she felt like she was starting from square one.

The center had been completely cleaned out after Tammy’s departure, and Deloris found that she had almost no budget to work with and no supplies to distribute to kids who were going to school without proper clothes or any school supplies at all. She told Shelley and Renée that it has been a big task for her to rebuild the center from the ground up. She has had to work hard to figure out how to provide for the students at the school, as well as for their families, who she knows all too well are struggling to make a living in this impoverished region of the United States.

Getting the supplies she needs

In order to obtain the food and school supplies she needed, she reached out to a church in the community to make food baskets during Thanksgiving and Christmas for families who would otherwise go without holiday meals. The church also held a school supplies drive that enabled Deloris to stock a closet in her center. Thankfully, when it comes to the donations that sponsored children are receiving from their sponsors, Deloris has had the funds in place to shop for children enrolled in our program so that they receive new clothes, shoes, and school supplies, as well as hygiene items on a monthly basis.

Before their visit ended, Shelley and Renée discussed how Deloris could identify more children to enroll in our sponsorship program so that we could hopefully link them with sponsors, too. Deloris was excited to work towards getting more children sponsored, with the hope that with additional sponsorships paired with continued help from the community, she could ensure that all the kids at Mullins Elementary School are receiving the consistent support they so desperately need.

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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.

Changing the Life of a Child in Need

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting Danny

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

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

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

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

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

Siblings Raising Siblings

Oftentimes, children living in poverty have to grow up quickly. Their parents might work long hours away from home – or even out of town – which means kids must cook their own meals and put themselves to bed without mom or dad tucking them in. Sometimes, unfortunately, even if a parent is not working out of the house, they are not emotionally, psychologically, or physically capable of caring for their children.

Instead of focusing on school and getting to play with their friends and siblings, older brothers and sisters end up helping raise kids themselves – which can add a lot of stress to their lives.

In instances like these, kids find themselves taking on all household responsibilities, including watching over their younger siblings. Instead of focusing on school and getting to play with their friends and siblings, older brothers and sisters end up helping raise kids themselves – which can add a lot of stress to their lives.

Just a step ahead of her siblings

On a recent trip to visit Feds Creek Elementary School in Pike County, Kentucky, our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, met with our Volunteer Coordinator Jan, who introduced Shelley to a special student named Laura*.  As a fifth-grader, Laura is helping to raise her younger sisters, Rebecca* and Lori*, even though she herself is only slightly older than the two of them. Although her parents are unemployed and at home during the day, Laura is the one responsible for getting her sisters up and ready in the morning before school, which is a difficult task for a ten-year-old.

Our Volunteer Coordinator Jan with a couple of our sponsored children at Feds Creek Elementary School

Sometimes the girls go to school wearing each other’s clothes; Rebecca has shown up in Lori’s pants and shoes, because that’s what Laura told her to put on. Although it is a lot for her to do, Laura does her best to raise her siblings and make sure they get to school and don’t fall behind.

Thankfully, even though Laura has a great deal of responsibility on her plate at home, when she gets to school, she has Jan and the resource center – as well as support from her sponsor – to give her some much-needed relief. Instead of taking care of others, she can be taken care of by loving and supportive adults, which gives her a chance to concentrate in class and just be the kid she deserves to be.

*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.

Long Days and Nights for Parents in Kentucky

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

So little time left for family

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

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

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

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

The effects of working long hours

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

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

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

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

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

Proud to Have a Sponsor

Last year, we wrote a story about how our Hope In Action Fund was able to help a boy named Robert* at East Ridge High School in Pike County, Kentucky. At the time, our volunteer coordinator at the school, Rhonda, was just starting her position as the head of the Family Resource Center when she met Robert as an incoming freshman. Shortly after getting to know Robert, Rhonda emailed our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, to tell her about Robert’s special situation.

“Thank you for the help you always give me and all the kindness you show me. I know you must have a heart of gold and full of love to help someone you don’t even know and have never met.”

– Robert

A special place in her heart

Here is Robert’s story:

The Children Incorporated volunteer coordinator at Robert’s elementary school is especially close to him. When she spoke with Rhonda at the beginning of the school year, she expressed that she has a special place in her heart for him. She shared some information about his home life – and most importantly, about the degree of need that he experiences.

Robert lives with his single father, who was renting a trailer; but there came a time when he could no longer afford it. So they had no choice but to move into a very small apartment. Robert’s father is disabled, and his limited disability benefits barely pay rent. The father has no transportation, and he sometimes struggles to provide food for his son. It wasn’t just the details of Robert’s home life that the elementary school coordinator wanted to share with Rhonda; she also felt it was important to mention that Robert was extremely self-conscious about his appearance.

The elementary school coordinator explained that, as a kid, Robert’s four front teeth had been knocked out, and he was desperately in need of a dental partial plate. At the time of the injury, a dentist helped him to recover from losing his teeth. Later, the dentist made an impression for a bridge, which is covered by Robert’s medical insurance – but the insurance does not cover partials or dentures.

When Robert’s father was told the cost of the partial plate, he told the dentist he couldn’t afford it. A few years later, when Robert reached high school, he was still missing those teeth – and he was unwilling to smile or talk to teachers or other students directly, because he was so embarrassed about it.

Robert smiles for the camera!

Realizing that Robert was in great need of some additional help outside of what he receives from his sponsor, Rhonda reached out to Renée to ask if Robert could be considered for assistance from our Hope In Action Fund to replace his missing teeth. Renée didn’t waste any time working on the request. Within a month, Rhonda received the funds needed to purchase Robert’s dental plate, and she ordered it for him immediately. Thanks to our Hope In Action Fund, Robert finally has something to smile about.

Catching Up with Rhonda

When our U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, returned to Pike County in spring of 2018 to meet with Rhonda, she was shown a letter written by Robert thanking his sponsor and Children Incorporated. Rhonda explained that at first, she kept it a secret as to where Robert had obtained the money to get his teeth fixed, because she didn’t want to embarrass him; but then she realized that Robert was telling all of his classmates about his sponsor, because he was so proud to be in our program!

Robert’s not the only one who’s proud to have a sponsor. Rhonda says there are many other children at her high school that absolutely love having sponsors, especially when they have the opportunity to show off new school clothes, and receive Christmas gifts during the holiday season – things that these kids would otherwise go without entirely.

A letter of gratitude from Robert

“Thank you for the help you always give me and all the kindness you show me. I know you must have a heart of gold and full of love to help someone you don’t even know and have never met. Because of the money you send to the Children Incorporated program, my family resource center was able to pay the dentist for my new front partial. We are sending you a picture of the ‘new me’! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

– Robert

*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.

Retiring After Many Years of Service

At Children Incorporated, we know very well that we couldn’t help kids who are living in poverty to obtain an education without our amazing volunteer coordinators. Because of their hard work and dedication, we are able to provide basic needs to some of the most vulnerable children in the world.

This past June, one of our special volunteer coordinators, Leeann, at our affiliated project Millard Elementary School in Pike County, Kentucky, retired after 25 years of working at the school’s Family Resource Center. In a community where many children are in the foster care system because they have been removed from their homes due to their parents’ drug abuse problems, having a special person like Leeann who can offer consistent support for kids is incredibly important to their well-being and development.

CATCHING UP WITH LEEANN

We caught up with Leeann to ask her some questions about her more than two decades of work with Children Incorporated, and how our program has impacted the lives of children at her school.

CI: How long have you been working as a volunteer coordinator with Children Incorporated?

L: 25 years

CI: What special challenges do children at your school face?

Leeann with one of our sponsored children at Millard Elementary School in Pike County, Kentucky

L: The greatest need at the school is for school supplies and clothing for the students. I would say that more than forty percent of our students are in foster care, living with other family members, and/or are adopted at some time in their lives. Many of these students have low self-esteem and sometimes make bad decisions because they don’t have any guidance in their lives.

CI: How would you describe the community in which you live?

L: There are no jobs in this community. With the decline of coal mines, there are no jobs for the men.

CI: In what ways does the Children Incorporated program help the children enrolled?

L: It helps with the purchase of school supplies throughout the school year. Also, it helps to purchase new shoes and clothing when they are needed. Students visit the Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) when they have a need.

CI: For you, what is the most important aspect of the Children Incorporated program?

L: The children enrolled in the Children Incorporated program are set up to succeed in school through the basic needs they are receiving. The sponsorship program also helps build their self-esteem and gives them the feeling that they are being treated with respect.

“The sponsorship program also helps build their self-esteem and gives them the feeling that they are being treated with respect.”

– Leeann

CI: Can you tell us a special story about a sponsored child and how sponsorship helped them in their life?

L: I have a girl that has been in the Children Incorporated program for five years. I will call the girl Alica. Alica has one brother and one sister. Her father worked in coal mines for twenty years – but now, he works at McDonald’s. They barely make it every month after paying rent and utilities. They do receive a small amount of Food Stamps. Alica had been wearing the same pair of sneakers for three years when I first met her; of course, her feet had sores on them, and she said it was hard to walk in the shoes. I asked her why she hadn’t told her parents about her feet, and she said that they were still pretty good shoes. She didn’t want to hurt her parents’ feelings or make them feel bad. The first thing I did after that conversation was go and get her two new pairs of shoes.

CI: What is most challenging for you as a volunteer coordinator for Children Incorporated?

L: Christmas shopping is the hardest because I wish there were enough money to provide for entire families.

CI: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

L: I love to read, make wreaths, and watch TV movies from start to finish.

Leeann, thank you for your years of dedicated service to children in need in Eastern Kentucky. We hope you enjoy your much-deserved retirement!

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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.