Tag Archives: poverty

Only four days into our trip to Mexico, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, and myself are already in our third city, Guadalajara. 

After visiting our affiliated sites in both Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende, I am excited to also return to the La Luz Home in Guadalajara after six years. I have fond memories of meeting the children and getting to hear about this truly incredible site and the abundance of programs that it has for children in the community, including our sponsorship program. 

I have fond memories of meeting the children and getting to hear about this truly incredible site.

Difficulty Through the Pandemic

Our volunteer coordinator, Sister Elizabeth, picks us up early in the morning along with La Luz’s driver, who spends most of his day taking the children back and forth between the Home and the local public schools that they attend. When Luis and I get in the van, there is a young boy sitting next to Sister Elizabeth that at first, I don’t recognize with his mask on.

As we drive to La Luz through the early morning traffic of Guadalajara, Luis and I catch up with Sister Elizabeth about how things have been for her during the pandemic. She admits that, like many other of our affiliated sites, it was difficult for them not knowing when the children would be able to go back to school and knowing that all the families that they support were in need of more resources than ever before.

Remember Fernando

About 20 minutes later, the driver pulls over in a residential neighborhood, and we all exit the car — including the young boy, who removes his mask and takes off running down the sidewalk to a big metal door about 30 feet away. I suddenly realize — I have been here before! We are at the home of Fernando whose family we met on our last trip to Mexico. I hadn’t recognized him, but without his mask, I can see clearly that it is the same Fernando, only taller.

We enter his home, which is occupied only by his older sister at the time — his mother is at work and his other siblings are at school. Fernando is the only child in the family young enough to still be attending La Luz — he is still too small at 10 years old to not have more supervision since his mother works long hours at a local school.

Because of his mother’s demanding work schedule, I know it’s best that Fernando is still at the La Luz Home — as long as he is there, he will be under the loving care of the Sisters and his sponsor — and it’s obvious that it has helped him a lot. He looks healthy and happy, and excitedly gives us a short tour of his small house, even though not much has changed since our last visit.

Big Help From Sponsors

Fernando is pictured in his school uniform standing on the patio of the home he shares with his mother, siblings, grandfather and aunt.

Once we have finished seeing Fernando’s home again, we say goodbye to his sister and head to the La Luz Home, only a short five-minute drive away. The children are still in school, so Sister Elizabeth gives us a tour, and we have a meeting in her office with the Home’s full-time social worker. They tell us that all twenty children at the Home are currently sponsored through the Children Incorporated program, and it’s a big help for them to have the support.

Every child at the La Luz Home, including Fernando, is there because one or both of their parents are incarcerated, so having a sponsor doesn’t just mean they are getting resources they need each month, like food and school supplies, but it means they have someone that they know cares about their well-being.

Like Fernando, some of these children have the same sponsor that they did six years ago when I first came to La Luz, and that can be life-changing for these children, who might not always feel special growing up in poverty with parents who struggle in really desperate situations.

Around the time that we wrap up our meeting, La Luz’s driver is bringing the second group of children to the Home in the van, and both the girls and boys excitedly run from the entrance through the courtyard and into their separate dorms to change out of their school uniforms and get ready for lunch. Sister Elizabeth invites us to chat with the children while they eat, and I have the chance to take some photos of them enjoying their soup and tuna salad, giddy knowing that the guests for the day came specially to visit with them.

I love knowing that, like Fernando, these other children who I am only just meeting for the first time are getting the chance to live long-term at La Luz as well.

Saying Goodbye for Now

I love knowing that, like Fernando, these other children who I am only just meeting for the first time are getting the chance to live long-term at La Luz as well. It’s a great relief to know that they have some consistency here that doesn’t always exist in their home lives.

As we depart for the day and say our goodbyes, I give one last wave to Fernando and the other children, myself just as giddy as the children knowing how much our sponsors are doing to help ensure that they all get to grow up at La Luz.

***

How do I sponsor a child in Mexico?

You can sponsor a child in Mexico 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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Mexico that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

After our visit to Casa Hogar Santa Inés in Mexico City, Children Incorporated Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet and I were off to San Miguel de Allende to meet with Sister Isabel, our volunteer coordinator at Hogar Santa Julia.

Remembering Santa Julia

I had fond memories of Santa Julia from my visit six years prior – the beautiful grounds of the home, with its well-maintained gardens and bright colorful murals, stood out to me as such as a wonderful place for destitute young girls to grow up in, away from the harsh conditions that they lived in before.

Even through all the challenges of the pandemic, the staff at Santa Julia always maintained and focused on their goals for the children there.

At Santa Julia, each girl is at the home because social services in Mexico has deemed their home life to be unfit — and in fact, once the children are enrolled at the home, they are there until they are 18 years old and can determine for themselves as adults if they want to have contact with their families again. When they are removed from their homes, the situation is often so horrific that the parents don’t know where their children are being taken for their children’s protection.

Getting to know the home again

When we arrive at Santa Julia, we are greeted by Lily, who is the Director of Development at the home, and Sister Isabel. It was great to meet Lily for the first time; she is energetic and enthusiastic about the Children Incorporated program. It was equally wonderful to see Sister Isabel again who had grown into her role as the head of the home since the last time we saw her, busily running around with many daily tasks to take care of.

We start the morning with a tour of the facilities, and Lily tells us about how the last few years have been for them. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the children stayed at Santa Julia and were out of school and learning virtually for nearly two years. During that time, the staff worked hard to creatively engage the girls in activities including art and online English classes. The girls took swimming lessons over the summer of 2021 and showed off artwork that they created at a local restaurant. They also participated in a Christmas Bizarre where they sold small crafts that they made by hand.

Including family in the present and future

The dorms at the Santa Julia Home are spacious and well-kept so the girls living there truly do feel at home.

Lily continued to explain that even through all the challenges of the pandemic, the staff at Santa Julia always stayed focused on their goals for the children — to learn good habits and values, especially respect for one another, to achieve consistency with their education, and to achieve comprehensive development through physical activity and proper nutrition.

Beyond all this, the girls also receive medical services, dental services, psychological services and ophthalmological services throughout the year. Additionally, Santa Julia managed to expand its programs in 2021 and began including brothers of the young girls during their intake process. Lily expressed that over the years, the staff of Santa Julia noticed that they had several cases in which girls who were separated from their home were not only having a difficult time adjusting, but were distressed over no longer being with their siblings and feeling alone and abandoned.

To mitigate this issue, Santa Julia started offering temporary housing for siblings during the adjustment period, during which the brothers and sisters can stay together until the boys can be relocated and can continue to have regular contact with one another.

A truly incredible place

Before leaving the home for the day, we had a chance to meet with some of the girls, some of whom I remember from six years ago. They all looked so healthy and happy, sitting closely together on the couches in Sister Isabel’s office, obviously bonded together from their time at the home. I showed them old photos of themselves on my phone but refrained from taking any new pictures at Lily’s request. Because of the sensitivity of their situations, she preferred that we help to keep the girls’ anonymous, and I understood completely after hearing more about how hard Santa Julia is working to give these girls, and their brothers, a safe place to grow up in.

For now, I have the memories of the children in my mind from our visit and a comfort in my heart knowing that they are safe and sound among truly incredible people in a truly incredible home.

***

How do I sponsor a child in Mexico?

You can sponsor a child in Mexico 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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Mexico that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

It has been roughly two and half years since we have been able to visit our affiliated sites, and I personally couldn’t wait to have the opportunity to travel to Mexico again. It finally happened in mid-May, and the trip exceeded all of my expectations.

When the pandemic hit, kids not only couldn’t go to school but in some cases could no longer stay in the group home and had to instead return to unstable and impoverished environments.

Without a doubt, our volunteer coordinators have had a tough time through the pandemic. Whether in the United States or abroad, school closures made accessing the children in our sponsorship program so much more of a challenge, but it was more important than ever as families tried to cope with so much uncertainty.

The devastation of the pandemic

Our affiliated sites in Mexico were no exception and in some ways, had it worse than other sites we work with. Each of our sites in Mexico — one in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and San Miguel de Allende — functions as a group home as well as a resource center. Therefore, when the pandemic hit, kids not only couldn’t go to school but in some cases could no longer stay in the group home and had to instead return to unstable and impoverished environments.

This was exactly the case at our affiliated site in Mexico City, Casa Hogar Santa Inés. When Luis and I arrived there a few weeks ago, we were greeted by our volunteer coordinator, Sister Flor, who gave us a tour of the facility while the girls were still in school. Sister Flor informed us that the girls had returned to Santa Inés three weeks prior. During that time, their mothers, or family members that acted as their guardians, would come to the Home once a month to pick up hygiene items and food, thanks to the girls’ sponsors. Beyond that, Sister Flor would call around and check on the girls during the week, making sure the girls’ basic needs were met the best she could.

The same but different

In total, twenty-seven girls came back to Santa Inés Home once the government allowed it and are back to school. The younger girls, those in pre-school and kindergarten, attend a local public school. The older girls, who attend primary school, go to a private school where each of them has received a scholarship to cover their school fees and books. The girls sleep at the Home from Sunday until Friday, and then are picked up by a parent or guardian, some of which travel upwards of two hours across Mexico City to Santa Inés.

For the most part, Santa Inés looked very much the same as I remember from when Luis and I visited back in 2016 — the grounds are incredibly well-kept, the dormitories are brightly painted and cozy, and the playground area offers ample space for the girls to play and just be kids in a safe and loving location. Sister Flor explained to us that outside of the support that each girl receives from her Children Incorporated sponsors, she relies on social services through the government and donations from local pharmacies and groceries stores to make sure the Home has everything it needs to provide for the children.

A big difference I did notice from our visit was just how many more services the Home is now providing to the children than before.

A big difference I did notice from our visit was just how many more services the Home is now providing to the children than before. A dentist volunteers time once a week to check on the girls’ teeth, and a computer lab and library are available for afterschool tutoring. A small infirmary is fully stocked with medications, and a clothes and supply room are abundant with items. Sister Flor even told us that she works to help the girls with their English. It seemed that over the years Sister Flor and the other administrators had really gone above and beyond to make the Home the best that it could be.

A place to call Home

After we finished the tour, we had a chance to meet the girls as they arrived from school. Sister Flor told us that she hopes that now that the Home is fully operating again, she can continue to add more girls to their program, which I think is a fantastic plan.

Even with all the challenges that the Home faced over the last two years, it was obvious that they still managed to grow and expand what they are able to offer, and any child would be fortunate to be able to call this place Home.

***

How do I sponsor a child in Mexico?

You can sponsor a child in Mexico 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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Mexico that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

As a part of our work with our affiliated sites in the United States, our volunteer coordinators write letters to talk about their resource center programs and how our sponsors are changing the lives of children at their schools.

Today, we hear from Jenny at Catlettsburg Elementary School in Kentucky, who is incredibly grateful to have partners just like Children Incorporated and knows first-hand how our work helps change the lives of children in need.

Today, we hear from Jenny at Catlettsburg Elementary School in Kentucky, who is incredibly grateful to have partners just like Children Incorporated and knows first-hand how our work helps change the lives of children in need.

Jenny’s Letter

“It’s almost time for some summer fun as the staff and students in Boyd County, Kentucky finalize plans for the end of the 2021-2022 school year. While it is hard to see our current 5th graders leave us and venture on to the middle school, we know we have done our absolute best to prepare them for the next step in their educational journey.

To help them prepare for their big transition into middle school, all 5th grade students attended the Family Resource Center-sponsored ‘Transition Program’ recently.

This program was held on Monday, April 25, 2022. The 5th grade students traveled to Boyd County Middle School to the event. While at the school, the students were broken into eight groups and paired with a student tour guide and one adult staff member. These groups then got to take a tour of their new school and sat in on all 6th grade core content classes as well as all 6th grade extra-curricular classes. They also met their new principal, their new assistant principals, and their new guidance counselors while on this visit. The students had an opportunity to ask any questions and voice concerns before the beginning of their new school year in the fall.”

Special memories and friendships

Catlettsburg Elementary School

A view of the entrance to Catlettsburg Elementary School

“Along with a visit to the middle school, the Family Resource Center provides all 5th grade students with an autograph/memory book and a graduation pen at their 5th Grade Breakfast Graduation Ceremonies. These books can be used by the kids to record special memories and friendships made during their elementary years. The Resource Center also provides all 5th grade students a pamphlet for their parents to have to prepare the adults for the next step in their child’s education and make the transition a smooth one for every child.

As with every end of the school year, we have been busy conducting programs and activities that are happening now, as well as making plans for summer and fall programs coming soon.  The annual WOW Summer Camp is in June and July at Catlettsburg Elementary. This year’s theme is a “Career Carnival” and the students will be focusing on career/job readiness, reading and math content areas, STEAM activities, and enrichment/educational crafts. Over the years, Children Incorporated enrolled students are some of those in attendance at this camp and have always left with sharpened academic and social skills.

During spring break this year, we met all of the currently enrolled Children Incorporated families at Walmart for a “Family Shop Day”. It has been nearly two years since we have been able to allow the families to go to Walmart with us to shop due to COVID, and we had a wonderful time! Students got the chance to pick out spring and summer clothing, and the parents loved having the opportunity to try the items on their child for proper fit.

You have put thousands of books in our students’ hands, clothes on their backs, and food in their bellies.

A great deal of gratitude for Children Incorporated

As we wrap up what remains of the year, we look back and smile while counting our blessings to have wonderful community partners such as Children Incorporated. From funding our “Books 4 Home” program, to meeting students’ basic and educational needs, your organization is very much appreciated by ourselves, our students, and their families. You have put thousands of books in our students’ hands, clothes on their backs, and food in their bellies.

In closing, not only are the children enrolled in Children Incorporated having their basic needs met, but through continued correspondence with their sponsors throughout the years, they are making lifelong mentors and creating special friendships. The Family Resource Center wishes each and every one the sponsors a relaxing summer with lots of fun times with your family and friends. We look forward to working with you again for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.”

Warmest Regards,
Jenny

***

How do I sponsor a child in Kentucky?

You can sponsor a child in Kentucky 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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Kentucky that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Twice a year, our volunteer coordinators in the United States send us reports about how our sponsorship program is working at their schools, which often times comes as poignant and emotional thank you letters directed to our sponsors for all they do.

Today, we want to share with you a note from Anne Marie at Alleghany High School about how important our program is for her kids in the rural part of North Carolina.

Today, we want to share with you a note from Anne Marie at Alleghany High School about how important our program is for her kids in the rural part of North Carolina where she lives and just how far donations go towards making a difference in their lives, in this edition of Stories of Hope.

Anne’s Letter

“Alleghany County is in the northwest corner of North Carolina and is known for its abundance of Christmas trees, which are shipped all over the world. It is also home to Alleghany High School, where 18% of the student body has a Children Incorporated sponsor. I became the Children Incorporated coordinator for Alleghany High School in November 2021 and assisted the previous coordinators whenever help was needed. During my time as a coordinator, I have always been amazed at how much the Children Incorporated sponsors help and support our students.”

Anne and other volunteers load bags of food that are ready to be delivered to our sponsored children’s homes

“Thanks to their sponsors, all our Children Incorporated students have their instructional fees paid, and school pictures and yearbooks are purchased for each student. All our seniors also have their cap and gown paid for with Children Incorporated funds. This year, a few weeks after school started, each student was allowed to pick out and purchase school gear (such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, jogging pants, hats, boots, etc.). In early December, each of our students received a fresh box of fruit containing apples, pears, and oranges that was then delivered to their houses by myself and my assistant, Rhonda.”

Helping students during the holidays

“Several years ago, our school noticed a need for food for the holidays for our families. To meet the need, on the last day of school before Christmas break, each staff member signs up to personally deliver the meals to our Children Incorporated families. The school partners with Lowe’s Hardware, which donates the cooler bags, and Food Lion, which prepares the bags for us to pick up and deliver. The meal consist of a turkey, ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, salad, rolls, and an apple pie.”

Over the years, we have received countless thank-yous and even tears from our families for the meal. Some families have told us that they did not know what they would have eaten over the holidays.

“This year, an anonymous donor in the county bought Food Lion Feeds boxes for each of our families which were delivered along with their meals. The box contained rice, spaghetti noodles, macaroni and cheese, tomato sauce, and a can of green beans and corn. Over the years, we have received countless thank-yous and even tears from our families for the meal. Some families have told us that they did not know what they would have eaten over the holidays.”

Our Children Incorporated students know to ask us for anything they may need. Funds have been used to purchase hygiene supplies, clothes, shoes, coats, blankets, school supplies, and more. Many of our students would not have the things that they need if it were not for Children Incorporated sponsors. We cannot not say enough thank-yous for all you do for our students.”

Sincerely,

Anne Marie Erhardt

***

How do I sponsor a child in north carolina?

You can sponsor a child in North Carolina 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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Kentucky that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Prior to the pandemic, we have always visited our affiliated sites every two or three years to not only check in with our volunteer coordinators in person, but to see for ourselves the impact that our programs are having on children in need. Relaying messages of hope and inspiration to our sponsors and donors is an important part of our work, and one that we couldn’t wait to get back to doing.

“One the really crucial parts of site visits involve gathering information and stories about communities, families, and the children we are supporting so we can highlight the impact our supporters are having on all three.”

“After a few long years of only having contact with our volunteer coordinators over phone, email or video chat, we are thrilled to be ready to travel again to conduct meetings and site visits — starting with a trip to Mexico,” explains Children Incorporated’s Director of Development, Shelley Callahan.

A Reach Bigger Than Imagined

“One the really crucial parts of site visits involve gathering information and stories about communities, families, and the children we are supporting so we can highlight the impact our supporters are having on all three.”

“It’s never just individuals that are being helped through our sponsorship program and our special funds and special projects — it’s a much bigger and broader range than many people can imagine, and visiting our sites lets us show that off,” Callahan stated.

“I have been looking forward to returning to Mexico since first visiting in 2016. With this upcoming visit, we will not only be reporting from the ground about our current work, but we will be looking at ways in which we can expand our programs in Mexico to reach even more children and their families.”

Starting next week, we will be sharing with you Stories of Hope from Mexico from our four affiliated sites in Mexico City, Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende, and Monterrey — in the meantime, please follow our social media to see photos and videos from our trip!

***

How do I sponsor a child in Mexico?

You can sponsor a child in Mexico 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 sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Mexico that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD