Tag Archives: kentucky

Attending, Learning and Graduating

Students in attendance at Boyd County High School in the small rural town of Cannonsburg, Kentucky are fortunate to have their resource center volunteer, Vickie, in their lives.

Thanks in large part to Vickie’s efforts, the school has a high success rate — much higher than many other schools in Eastern Kentucky. As of last year, 93% of students at the school graduate within four years, and 65% enroll in some type of higher education.

A committed coordinator

Renee with one of our sponsored children at Boyd County High School.

Renée with one of our sponsored children at Boyd County High School

While meeting with Vickie in the Resource Center at Boyd County High School, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube noted that Vickie had a deep commitment to her students.

“Vickie is always working on new initiatives to keep high school kids attending school and learning with a focus on graduating and going on to college or trade school,” said Renée.

Renée recognized that Vickie has an extremely tough job — she explained to Renée that the economy of the region had declined over the past ten years, and it has hit families hard.

A loss of jobs

Vickie cited the steel mill as an example, which, due to imports, cut its workers from 5000 to 2500 over the last decade. Because of these job losses the overall poverty rate in Boyd County is an astounding 20%.

“Vicki is always working on new initiatives to keep high school kids attending school and learning with a focus on graduating and going on to college or trade school,” said Renée.

In addition, 34% of households are headed by a single parent — in large part due to issues with drug abuse in the county. Because of these problems, Boyd County High School administrators have a lot to handle when it comes to supporting students. Many children lack adult supervision and the support they need at home to do well and focus on their futures after high school.

Overcoming every obstacle

Yet all of these obstacles don’t get in the way of Vickie helping kids and making sure they get the encouragement they need to succeed and to go on to higher education.

Vickie (right) is an incredibly dedicated volunteer coordinator.

According to Renée, Vickie is an incredibly dedicated Children Incorporated volunteer coordinator. She makes sure to check in with sponsored students weekly to find out precisely what they need. She also encourages them to write letters to their sponsors so they can feel connected to a caring adult in their lives.

That communication is so essential for kids because outside of the school environment, sponsors are often the only ones showing the kids they are worthwhile and capable of succeeding in life.

Excelling academically

With quite a few students raising themselves and their younger siblings because their parents are absent or unable to care for them, it isn’t surprising that they struggle to do well in school.

With so many distractions, they don’t have the time and energy to focus on their future. But thanks to Vickie and these students’ sponsors, kids at Boyd County High School not only are getting the attention they need every day, but they are excelling academically.

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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.

Pride in Her Students

For years, Catlettsburg, where our affiliated projects Catlettsburg Elementary and Ponderosa Elementary Schools are located, was known as “The Gate City” because it was here that barges were loaded with coal to be shipped down the Ohio River to other ports.

Although the children may come from strikingly different economic backgrounds, that doesn’t change how they interact with one other.

The decline of the coal industry in Kentucky and West Virginia has severely diminished the city’s economic importance, and commerce is now minimal. Today, this area of Boyd County, Kentucky suffers from high rates of both poverty and illiteracy, since a significant number of adults have never completed high school.

These social and economic problems negatively affect even the youngest members of Catlettsburg, which is why both Ponderosa and Catlettsburg Elementary serve as bright and welcoming places for children to learn and escape some of the harsh realities they face at home.

The Haves and Have Nots

While visiting the two schools, our Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube, met with our volunteer coordinator Jenny. Jenny oversees the resource centers at both schools, ensuring that children — including sponsored and unsponsored children in our program — are receiving basic needs throughout the school year.

During their meeting, Jenny explained to Renée that because Boyd County is located in a very rural and beautiful part of the country, Catlettsburg has become a popular place for middle and upper-class families to build homes. Jenny feels that because of this migration, the student population is divided more conspicuously into the “haves and have nots.”

Although the children may come from strikingly different economic backgrounds, that doesn’t change how they interact with one other.

While the administration, faculty and staff of the schools may know which families struggle and which do not, Jenny says the students are very close and treat each other with kindness and respect.

Additionally, as a tight-knit group, the children are more than willing to come together to help other students in need — even those that are far away.

Additionally, as a tight-knit group, the children are more than willing to come together to help other students in need — even those that are far away.

Rising to a challenge

Before their meeting ended, Jenny told Renée a story expressing how much pride she had in her students.

In 2018, the deadly Camp Fire burned down much of the town of Paradise, California — including a school also named Ponderosa Elementary School. Not long after the fire, the principal of Ponderosa Elementary School in Catlettsburg was informed about a nationwide fundraiser through another Ponderosa Elementary School in Oregon.

The fundraiser, deemed “Pennies for Ponderosa Initiative” requested that the eleven schools named Ponderosa Elementary School in the United States collect donations for the rebuilding of the California school.

The children at Jenny’s school stepped up to the challenge. They not only raised money to help students on the other side of the country, but also sent video messages of hope and encouragement as they and their families worked to rebuild their lives.

Whether coming from an impoverished background or not, children at Ponderosa Elementary School showed that they were willing to do anything they could to help others in need — and that is something to be proud of.

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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.

Two Schools, One Volunteer Coordinator

Fairview Independent School comprises two campuses, Fairview Elementary and Fairview High Schools, located just a few blocks apart from each other in the small community of Westwood, Kentucky.

Like many communities in Eastern Kentucky, Westwood has suffered significantly from the decline of the coal and steel mining industries that used to dominate this area.

At one point, Armco Steel employed the majority of the Westwood workforce and made it a prosperous town. Today, only 1300 employees remain at Armco, and poverty, high dropout rates and unemployment are now serious problems.

A beacon of hope for kids

Fairview Elementary School

Fairview Independent School serves as a welcome escape from poverty for this rural community. Many children from Westwood’s impoverished families look forward to school, where they receive a well-rounded education, two nutritious meals and the attention of a dedicated and caring staff including our volunteer coordinator Ashley and her assistant Katrina.

Ashley and Katrina equally share the responsibilities of making sure that sponsored and unsponsored kids in our program are receiving the support they need from their sponsors.

“Ashley and Katrina work at both schools to support a lot of children. With a total enrollment of almost 800 students, they have a large caseload and are great at handling their jobs,” stated Renée.

According to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, who recently visited the schools, Ashley and Katrina are different in appearance and manner, but work exceptionally well together and have a mutually agreeable and cooperative relationship.

“Ashley and Katrina work at both schools to support a lot of children. With a total enrollment of almost 800 students, they have a large caseload and are great at handling their jobs,” stated Renée.

“They are constantly seeking resources to assist the children and their families, and both told me that Children Incorporated is vital in what they do.”

Finding resources in the community

During their meeting, Ashley explained to Renée about how she and Katrina operate a Weekend Snack Bag Program during the school year and offer food boxes in June and July for families in need during summer break.

Thanks to donations to the Family Resource Center, Ashley and Katrina can provide clothes to children all year long.

They also receive assistance from two community churches and a local hospital.

Ashley and Katrina expressed that they usually do well with food provisions throughout the year thanks to help from the community, but if they run low, they won’t hesitate to reach out to Children Incorporated for emergency aid through our Hope In Action Program.

Meeting Cassandra

Renée had a chance to visit both the Fairview High and the Fairview Elementary Schools during her trip. It was apparent to her that the children were significantly affected by Ashley and Katrina’s dedication to the students. Additionally, the support children in our program were receiving from their sponsors was making a huge difference in the lives of these vulnerable kids.

Before leaving the elementary school, Ashley and Katrina introduced Renée to Cassandra*. Cassandra is one of three children in her family. Their single mother who works for low-wages at a restaurant is raising them. She often struggles to pay the bills. Ashley told Renée that Cassandra’s sponsor keeps clothes on her back and shoes on her feet.

*Name changed to protect the child.

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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.

Backpacks Full of Food to the Rescue

Boyd County Middle School is located in the isolated and rural town of Cannonsburg, Kentucky.

When children don’t eat enough, it can shorten their attention span, lower their IQ and keep them from performing well in school.

Like many of Kentucky’s Eastern Coal Field communities, Cannonsburg has suffered significantly from the decline of the coal mining industry. At the height of the coal operations, Boyd County was an essential and active port city for the transport of coal along the Ohio River.

Today, many of its residents live in dismal poverty. Illiteracy and high dropout rates are significant problems in the area.

Thankfully, students at Boyd County Middle School have caring teachers and staff that work hard to motivate and educate them so that they can graduate and become successful members of their community.

A newly renovated school

Not only do students at the school have a supportive group of administrators to help them, but according to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, they also have newly renovated school buildings to enjoy.

Unfortunately, for many children living in poverty, their only meals of the day can often be those they receive at school.

On a recent visit to Boyd County Middle School, Renée marveled at the new entrance façade, energy efficient windows, improved access to the gym and a new bus loading/unloading area designed to help with traffic congestion during peak times — all updates from the last time she visited the school a few years ago.

A lack of adequate food at home

While at the school, Renée also got a chance to meet with our volunteer coordinator, Vicki. Vicki told Renée that Boyd County Middle School serves 729 students in sixth through eighth grades. Fifty-seven percent of those children come from low-income families. These children often come to school without proper clothes, shoes and school supplies. Many of them don’t have adequate food at home either.

“Vicki expressed to me that her biggest need is for more help with her Weekend Backpack Food Program, which is currently assisting over 100 children,” said Renée.

Why is backpack feeding necessary?

Sending children home on Friday afternoons with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food ensures that they get enough food on weekends and holidays when they can’t rely on a getting a nutritious meal at school.

Unfortunately, lack of food in the home for families living in poverty is an issue that many children in the United States face. According to Feeding America’s website, “Twenty-two million children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program. For many of these children, school meals may be the only meals they eat.”

Roughly 13 million kids in America today don’t have enough food to eat on the weekends. One in five kids in our country goes without access to affordable, nutritious food on Saturdays and Sundays. Lack of adequate food leads to health problems in addition to hunger. When children don’t eat enough, it can shorten their attention span, lower their IQ and keep them from performing well in school.

Because of these harsh realities, backpack feeding programs like Vicki’s at Boyd County Middle School are crucial for children. Sending children home on Friday afternoons with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food ensures that they get enough food on weekends and holidays when they can’t rely on a getting a nutritious meal at school.

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HOW DO I SUPPORT BACKPACK FEEDING PROGRAMS IN THE U.S.?

Our U.S. Feeding Program provides support for Backpack Feeding Programs at our affiliated projects. To donate, call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org or visit https://childrenincorporated.org/u-s-feeding-programs/ to make an online donation.

Support for the Long-Term

When our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, was contacted by Deb from Carr Creek Elementary School in Knott County, Kentucky twelve years ago, Renée had no idea how much of an affect that one phone call would have on children in need.

During a recent visit to Carr Creek Elementary School, Renée got a chance to see first-hand just how proud Deb is of the partnership she has created with Children Incorporated.

Deb had heard about the Children Incorporated sponsorship program during a regional Family Resource and Youth Services Center meeting among administrators and staff. After hearing about what sponsors were doing for children living in poverty, Deb knew she needed to get in touch with Renée about the urgent needs of impoverished kids at Carr Creek.

After talking with Deb, Renée agreed to partner with her and Carr Creek Elementary School — making them our first affiliated project in Knott County.

More schools in need

Before Renée knew it, the word about our organization’s support at Carr Creek had reached other Resource Center coordinators in Knott County. They each followed in Deb’s footsteps, calling to request partnering with Children Incorporated. Today, thanks to Deb’s initiative, we support thousands of children in dozens of affiliated schools in Kentucky.

Deb with one of our sponsored children

Not only was Deb the first coordinator to get in touch about our sponsorship program Knott County, but according to Renée, she is also the first coordinator in the state to submit a Hope in Action Fund request that was for more than just one-time aid for a particular emergency.

“Deb submitted a proposal on efforts to enrich the students’ knowledge in social studies because the results of their standardized test scores were very low,” explained Renée.

“She then designed a summer camp program with instructors that taught concepts in a fun and engaging manner. Before the program began, Deb created pre-tests for the students to take. After the program ended, the children took post-tests, and the results were good. The entire faculty of the school then built additional programs on those gains that Deb initiated.”

“Deb was very excited to present me with a quilt that sponsored students had made in her after-school program. She said it’s a small appreciation of how much our programs mean to her and the families we serve,” expressed Renée.

“We were delighted to see the success of Deb’s program. Since then we have supported many similar programs in the United States through our Hope in Action Fund. These programs are geared towards long-term projects that support children over time as opposed to just for the short-term,” said Renée.

A gift to say thank you

During a recent visit to Carr Creek Elementary School, Renée got a chance to see first-hand just how proud Deb is of the partnership she has created with Children Incorporated.

“Deb was very excited to present me with a quilt that sponsored students had made in her after-school program. She said it’s a small appreciation of how much our programs mean to her and the families we serve,” expressed Renée.

After receiving the quilt, Deb introduced Renée to a few of our sponsored kids as well as their parents.

Meeting special sponsored kids

Deb works hard to make sure sponsored and unsponsored children have school supplies all year long.

Deb invited Benjamin* to the Resource Center first. Benjamin lives with his unemployed parents and two older brothers. He loves football and roots for the local high school team. Deb told Renée that Benjamin is very appreciative of his sponsor’s help to make sure he has proper clothing and shoes.

Next, Renée met Olivia and her mother, Amanda. Olivia is a sweet little girl who lives with her mom, dad and little brother. Her father works as a heating technician, but his pay is meager. Olivia’s mom helps when she can by cleaning houses and catering for weddings. Her parents’ combined earnings are still so low that Olivia qualifies for free meals at school. Olivia told Renée that she loves writing letters to her sponsor. Amanda said that Children Incorporated is a blessing for her child, and that she’s so grateful for the program.

After Amanda and Olivia left, Deb explained to Renée that Olivia’s parents are responsible and very loving, and that Amanda regularly volunteers at the Family Resource Center so she can give back in thanks for everything that Olivia receives from her sponsor.

Grandparents stepping up to help

Lastly, Deb introduced Renée to a family of children — Rebecca, Natalie, Laura and Joanna — who are being raised by their retired grandparents. Deb explained to Renée that starting over and raising young children is not what most grandparents envisioned. Many are overwhelmed financially and emotionally.

Despite their situation, Deb is proud that these girls’ grandparents have stepped up and feels they are doing a good job. Sponsorship is really helping their family, and the girls all love having special friends in their sponsors that provide for them when their grandparents can’t.

*Names changed to protect the children.

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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 Above and Beyond for Kids in Need

As the largest elementary school in Knott County, Kentucky, Hindman Elementary School serves 609 students in grades kindergarten through eight.

Not only does the school have high enrollment, but it also prides itself on having test scores that are above the state average. According to our volunteer coordinator at the school, Shana, Hindman Elementary has a higher ratio of children who come from middle-class households compared to the rest of Knott County. Shana believes that these two factors are in direct correlation with one another.

Shana doesn’t let any obstacle stand in her way when it comes to making sure that vulnerable, underprivileged students at her school — including those enrolled in the Children Incorporated program — get the help they need.

Parents who are raising their children in middle-class households have completed high school or college and now work as teachers, nurses, county administrators or medical professionals in higher-paying jobs than their peers who weren’t able to get their high school diplomas or higher education degrees. And thanks to higher pay than minimum wage jobs offer, they can provide their children with the adequate resources they need to succeed in school — as Shana has seen firsthand at Hindman.

A school with kids in need

Unfortunately, even with higher percentages of students coming from middle-class backgrounds than other schools in Knott County, Shana says that many kids at Hindman are living in poverty. Nearly 75% of children attending Hindman receive free or reduced lunch through the National School Lunch Program.

Yet despite the challenges of serving underprivileged students with limited resources, Shana doesn’t let any obstacle stand in her way when it comes to making sure that vulnerable students at her school — including those enrolled in the Children Incorporated program — get the help they need.

Meeting Jean

Thanks to Shana, children enrolled in our program at Hindman Elementary School are well cared for all year long.

On a recent visit to Knott County, Kentucky, our Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube had the chance to see just how much Shana was willing to do for our sponsored and unsponsored kids.

“Shana is a dynamic coordinator who always goes above and beyond for her kids. Before our meeting at the school, she had arranged a visit to the home of a nice woman named Jean and her husband, John,” said Renée.

“Jean and John are the legal guardians of John’s six grandchildren, who are all currently sponsored through our program. When we arrived, Jean gave me a warm welcome into their trailer. She said they are retired, and starting all over again with his grandchildren was a big adjustment.”

Renée continued, “But the kids are so sweet. Jean is a tiny little woman with a ton of energy. She spoke of the grandchildren lovingly, telling funny stories about them — their pictures are displayed in places of pride on the television stand and the living room wall.”

“It was amazing to see firsthand how Shana’s efforts to make sure the children all had sponsors were making a huge difference for this family,” said Renée.

Visting Hindman

After their trip to Jean’s house, Shana and Renée had a chance to talk more about how Children Incorporated and the Family Resource Center at Hindman are helping children and families in Knott County.

It made Renée happy to know that children at this large elementary school have a caring person like Shana who is willing to go the extra mile every day to make sure they each have their individual needs met.

Shana told Renée that the things she struggles with most are providing basic needs assistance to children and accessing adequate healthcare for them. Thankfully, because of our donors and sponsors, many children at Hindman are getting shoes, clothes and school supplies regularly.

When it comes to healthcare, Shana brings the University of Kentucky Dental Van to the school and works with the Lions Club to obtain eyeglasses.

A wonderful time with Shana

Overall, Renée was very pleased with her visit to Hindman and the time she got to spend with Shana.

It pleased Renée — and comforted her — to know that children at this large elementary school have a caring person like Shana who is willing to go the extra mile every day to make sure they each have their individual needs met.

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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.