Tag Archives: opportunity

Going Above and Beyond 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.

From Sponsored Child to Doctor

Our Higher Education Fund has helped hundreds of children over the years to receive an education beyond high school. Without the support of this special fund, many sponsored children who graduate from high school in the United States or abroad would not have the opportunity to pursue a higher education, whether through vocational training, college or certification courses, or in some cases, master’s or doctoral programs.

Avi is receiving support, thanks to our Higher Education Fund.

Avi* is a young man from India who had a wonderful sponsor from elementary to high school through Children Incorporated. After he graduated, Avi was no longer supported by our sponsorship program; but he expressed to our volunteer coordinator that he wanted to continue on to higher education studies, and pursue a degree in pharmacy. His coordinator then asked Children Incorporated to continue supporting Avi, because he was a good student with great potential; and we agreed that his enthusiasm and interest in furthering his education were valuable.

A chance at a brighter future

Children Incorporated provided support to Avi through our Higher Education Fund, and he enrolled in a college in Guntur, in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, near the village where he grew up. He is now in his fifth year of university, and will finish his practicum this year. Avi has not yet finished his classes, but he has already been offered a position at a local hospital, thanks to his high academic marks.

As you can imagine, we are very proud of Avi and all his accomplishments. Without the support of his sponsor or donations from our dedicated contributors to our Higher Education Fund, Avi might never have had the chance to establish a career path through higher education, nor would he have had this chance at an even brighter future.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA?

You can sponsor a child in India 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 India that is available for sponsorship.

Beyond Sponsorship

We meet a wide array of needs for children and their families through our Hope In Action Fund, which provides support outside of sponsorship. From providing aid in the wake of emergencies to supporting weekend and summer feeding programs, individual, one-­time donations to this special fund really go a long way. They support income-generating projects, and they go towards the construction of homes and schools – and even medical clinics at our affiliated projects. As a way to show our appreciation for your support, we want to share just some of the many amazing accomplishments we were able to make in 2017, thanks to your contributions to our Hope In Action Fund.

Helping kids in the united states

Last year, our Hope In Action Fund provided continued assistance for a combined College/Career Awareness and Parent Resource Program at our affiliated project Carr Creek Elementary School in Kentucky. The fund also aided our volunteer coordinator at Lucy Ellen Moten Elementary School in Washington, D.C. in the development of a mentoring program. Thanks to your contributions, we were able to provide additional resources in New Orleans, Louisiana, which included aid for an after-school program, uniforms for children whose families could not afford them, and 500 books distributed at three literacy events during the year to increase a love of reading and to help build the home libraries of 500 children.

Kids in Kentucky have benefited greatly from our Hope In Action Fund.

Our Hope In Action Fund also provided backpacks and school supplies for “Readifests” at several of our Kentucky schools to support kids at the start of the school year. Funds enabled the entire student body of Bevins Elementary School in Kentucky, including children enrolled in our program, to benefit from an educational drug awareness and personal resiliency program. Additionally, our Hope In Action Fund provided opportunities for our sponsored and unsponsored children at Sparta Elementary School in North Carolina to attend cultural and educational performances outside of their community – experiences that they otherwise would not have had.

Donations also offered disaster relief for children impacted by serious flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Thanks to you, we were able to provide canned hams, canned vegetables, and boxed food for Thanksgiving for children at our newest project in Richmond, Virginia, E.S.H. Greene Elementary School. We were also able to pay for a young girl in Kentucky to have a much-needed eye exam, and to replace her broken glasses, improving her vision so that she’d have less difficulty keeping up in class.

Thanks to you, we were able to establish a weekend feeding program at Shonto Preparatory School in Arizona on the Navajo Reservation, as well as provide assistance for a partial denture for a high school student in Kentucky who suffered an accident that caused him to lose his four front teeth. We were also able to address food insecurity by supporting weekend feeding programs and monthly markets of fresh fruits and vegetables at our four affiliated projects in Washington, D.C. We assisted three children enrolled in our program at Piney Creek Elementary School in North Carolina to attend and participate in the Junior Beta Club State Convention in Greensboro.

We couldn’t help with such simple but powerful things without our sponsors’ and donors’ contributions to our Hope In Action Fund.

Our Hope In Action Fund also provided a complete professional outfit for a high-achieving student at Greyhills Academy High School in Arizona so that she could advance and compete in the Navajo Nation Science Fair in Window Rock. Donations gave us the ability to help a little boy at Johns Creek Elementary School in Kentucky to be transported to and from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, by providing funds for gas and food, so that he could undergo additional procedures following his open-heart surgery.

Donations enabled 25 children at Johnson County Middle School in Paintsville, Kentucky, including children enrolled in our program, to attend and learn at the Summer Scrubs Camp at the Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg. Additionally, we were able to purchase playground equipment for the kids at G.H. Reid Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia.

Supporting kids internationally

Outside of the United States, last year, our Hope In Action Fund provided over a thousand pairs of new shoes to children in need in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We also made a contribution to the Materi Girls’ School in Meru, Kenya for the purchase of food for the families of the children who attend, who were suffering due to a terrible drought. We provided support to Guarderia El Angel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia to pay a few teachers’ salaries when the center lost funding from its local municipality. We also completed eight housing units near our affiliated project Villa Emilia in Bolivia to help the mothers of children enrolled in our program, who were formerly living on the streets.

We couldn’t help with such simple but powerful things without our sponsors’ and donors’ contributions to our Hope In Action Fund. Every contribution impacts a specific child or family – and oftentimes, it is life-changing for them. We are incredibly grateful that we have the ability to provide for children and their families beyond sponsorship, especially in circumstances that are dire, and in which they have nowhere else to turn for help. Thanks to you, thousands of children and their families are getting the support they need every year.

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HOW DO I CONTRIBUTE TO THE HOPE IN ACTION FUND?

You can contribute 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 to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Hope In Action Fund.

Combating Feelings of Desperation

Menifee County High School is located in rural Menifee County, in the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield. With the continuing decline of the coal mining industry in recent years, and due to a lack of other industries in the area, Menifee County residents struggle in the wake of diminishing job opportunities. The problems that affect many areas of the Appalachian region of the United States, including unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse, have begun to take their toll on Menifee County as well. As a result, not only do parents living in poverty feel depressed and hopeless, but sometimes their children do, too.

Homework plays a key role in education

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Melanie, with a few students who are wearing their school color proudly

Many Menifee County High School parents didn’t finish high school themselves, and their lack of education keeps them from obtaining any of the few well-paying jobs that do exist in the area – which causes them to feel more desperate. Oftentimes, they can’t even begin to imagine a way out of their situation. It’s not surprising, because many of them are uneducated, undereducated, or are battling depression or substance abuse; in these instances, they are usually either absent from their children’s lives, or they’re unable to help them with their homework.

Thankfully, however, Menifee County High School provides a well-rounded education for students, including those who come from impoverished families in which education and literacy are not always top priorities.

Menifee Matters

Menifee County High School serves grades nine through twelve. The high school has an old section that is slightly run-down, but it is attached to a large, new, modern addition. Our volunteer coordinator at the school is Melanie, and she is very attuned to both our sponsored and unsponsored kids’ personal issues. She knows the students well, and is familiar with their home lives, as she makes frequent home visits to check on families that she feels might need additional emotional or psychological support.

This may not seem like much, but just as our sponsorship program does, showing kids that they matter enriches their lives profoundly.

Melanie is aware that, because of difficult home lives in which kids are forced to deal with drug- or alcohol-addicted parents, many of the children in her care feel isolated and hopeless as they struggle with traumatic circumstances daily. To combat feelings of desperation, Melanie, along with other school administrators, started an initiative called Menifee Matters, so that students feel seen, noticed, and cared for. It started simply by providing students with magnetized name labels with which they could decorate their lockers. Then, each student received a Menifee Matters T-shirt. At the beginning of the school year, teachers wrote notes to their students to welcome each one back to school personally. They are small gestures, but Melanie says they make a difference for the kids.

This may not seem like much, but just as our sponsorship program does, showing kids that they matter enriches their lives profoundly. When a child knows that someone cares about them – when they might not always think that about people at home – they may be less likely to feel so alone or desperate. Encouraging children to feel good about themselves goes a very long way in helping them with their self-esteem, and it makes them feel like they are important, which can give them the confidence they need to succeed in school.

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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.

Schools Working Together to Help Kids

Lewis County has the unfortunate distinction of having consistently ranked as number one in unemployment among Kentucky’s counties since 1999. That year, the county’s top employer, a shoe factory, closed its doors and left many residents without a means to provide for their families. Other companies, including a cabinet business and a fiberglass company, closed as well. With these additional closures, Lewis County became even more economically depressed. Dismal poverty and drug abuse have since plagued the area.

Thankfully, children have the Lewis County Middle and High Schools’ teachers and administration, as well as the Family Resource and Youth Services Center and Children Incorporated Volunteer Coordinator, Scott, to rely on.

Scott, who oversees both schools, works closely with his colleagues and with parents to help encourage kids to overcome the obstacles they face living in an impoverished environment. Being able to work with kids starting in middle school, and maintaining contact with them through high school, means that Scott can help kids focus on their education for many years, and he can help them set goals that he’ll be able to support all the way up to graduation – and sometimes even beyond.

Being able to work with kids starting in middle school, and maintaining contact with them through high school, means that Scott can help kids focus on their education for many years.

Kids need more as they grow

The Lewis County Middle and High Schools share one Family Resource and Youth Services Center, where Scott met with our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, recently. The total number of students enrolled in the schools is about 750. Scott has one assistant, Sue, and because they have a very heavy workload, they stay incredibly busy ensuring that the students have the resources they need. Despite his hectic schedule, during Renée’s visit, Scott took the time to set up a tour of both schools, and meetings with sponsored students, as well as with some parents.

First, Renée and Scott met with Lydia, a loving and responsible mother who has a wonderfully positive outlook on life. Lydia and her husband have seven children. The eldest, Dianna*, is in the seventh grade, and has a sponsor through our program. Her daughter Brittany* is currently waiting to be sponsored. Lydia told Renée that as the children get older and are starting to enter middle school, they are growing fast, and are in need of more clothes and food than before, which is expensive for the family. Lydia’s husband is a self-employed construction laborer. His employment is erratic, so he doesn’t make enough to provide everything the family needs. Lydia said that she and her husband decided she needed to get a job, which made her nervous at first, because it meant that she would have to be away from her youngest child, Erin*, who is only a baby.

When Lydia was hired as a custodian at a nearby hospital in Morehead, Kentucky, she began paying a neighbor to babysit Erin while she was at work. Having to pay for childcare means Lydia doesn’t have a lot left over from her paychecks – but her job does help. Lydia is grateful for Dianna’s sponsor, and for the opportunity for Brittany to also get sponsored, because every little bit helps the family make ends meet, and helps keep her and her husband from worrying so much.

A dream of going to college

Renée (right) met with sponsored kids’ parents, such as Victoria, on her visit, thanks to Scott.

Renée also got the chance to meet Victoria. Victoria and her husband are raising a son and two daughters. One of their daughters, Sandra*, attended Lewis County Middle School, and is now at the high school. Victoria’s husband is a welder at construction jobs when work is available – but it is not steady. Victoria told Renée that Sandra is very bright and gets excellent grades. She said that Sandra dreams of going to college, and Victoria is pushing her to apply; but the family will need some additional financial support for tuition costs. Scott has known Sandra for a long time, and he feels that she would be an excellent candidate for the Children Incorporated Higher Education Program, which helps high school graduates to continue with their education.

Finally, Scott called in a bright and high-achieving student that he wanted Renée to meet. Leslie* is in the eleventh grade. She is the second of four children in her family. Scott said Leslie’s older sister used to be enrolled in our sponsorship program. She is now attending Morehead State University on scholarships and student loans. The two youngest kids are twins who are in the seventh grade, and who are also enrolled in our sponsorship program. Their mother is a nurse who receives little child support, but is doing an excellent job of raising her children. Scott said that the girls are polite, active in school, and that they try hard academically. He wants to recommend Leslie for our Higher Education Program as well so that she may receive some additional help when she graduates.

It is important for Children Incorporated to have affiliated partners like the Lewis County Middle and High Schools, as well as volunteer coordinators like Scott, who can help children strive and overcome adversity year after year, until they graduate – and sometimes even beyond. When schools work closely together as children make the transition from middle to high, and then on to higher education, these close-knit relationships and people like Scott ensure that children grow up with opportunities for the long-term.

*Children’s names changed for their 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.

Moved Beyond Measure

When International Student Exchange (ISE) contacted me in the fall of 2016 and said that they had chosen Children Incorporated to be their domestic philanthropic partner for the coming year, I was pleasantly surprised. ISE is a high school exchange program that brings together people from around the world, fostering cross-cultural learning. Under the leadership of their Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Brewer, they have been positively impacting the lives of children worldwide for in excess of 35 years.

Mr. Carter with ISE representatives in Madrid, Spain

Mr. Brewer, along with Tal Stanecky, who serves as Senior Program Advisor at ISE, selected Children Incorporated from among many other organizations due to the transparency we exhibit, and the fact that such a high percentage of our funding is used to benefit children and families. “Children Incorporated was so appealing,” said Mr. Stanecky, “because of its ability to adapt and tailor its services to children all around the world. The donations being given to the charity were really going to the people who needed it the most.”

This past November, I traveled to Madrid, Spain as a guest of ISE, and while there, I met many of the wonderful people who make up that special organization. I met and interacted not only with directors and board members, but also with representatives and field workers – those who toil within small towns and large cities across America to find host families for exchange students who wish to come to the United States and learn more about our social, economic, and political systems.

Over a five-day period, I shared many warm conversations and lots of laughter with these incredible people, and I returned to the United States with a true sense of awe and appreciation not only for the people of ISE, but also for the organization as whole.

Donations already at work

“The donations being given to the charity were really going to the people who needed it the most.”

While in Spain, International Student Exchange presented me with a very generous monetary contribution for Children Incorporated, with the very specific purpose of assisting us as we improve the lives of U.S. children over the coming months. Renée Kube, Director of our U.S. Programs Division, has been hard at work overseeing the first distributions of the ISE funds. Thus far, Children Incorporated has purchased laptop computers for a residential school in Huerfano, New Mexico; provided building supplies for an outdoor reading center in Pinon, Arizona; and obtained the necessary materials to lay an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk for wheelchair-bound students at a special education school in St. Michaels, Arizona.

Additionally, backpack feeding programs and monthly fresh foods markets have been funded in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. In the small community of Glade Creek, North Carolina, an after-school program based on cultural enrichment and music lessons for students is now a reality, in part thanks to funds received from ISE – and much more will be accomplished as the direct result of their kindness and generosity.

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to ISE for recognizing the life-changing work that Children Incorporated regularly accomplishes. Furthermore, I want to thank them for entrusting us with funds that will provide education, hope, and opportunity to many children and young people this year and in years to come, as our partnership continues. Children Incorporated is honored to be associated with a fine organization like ISE – and I, personally, am moved beyond measure.

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer
Children Incorporated