Tag Archives: sponsors

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck hard in March 2020, all U.S. schools went fully virtual. They had no time to prepare — everything was done, as the old saying goes, “on a wing and prayer.” However, for most districts, the school year was over by mid-May, and at first everyone thought things would be back to normal soon. Then, the realization sank in across the country that the pandemic would get worse before it got better, so the summer of 2020 was used to plan for a very different 2020-2021 school year.

Our volunteer coordinators at schools around the country coped during the 2020-2021 school year with a mixture of hybrid and virtual instruction and outreach. They rose admirably to the challenge.

Our volunteer coordinators at schools around the country coped during the 2020-2021 school year with a mixture of hybrid and virtual instruction and outreach. They rose admirably to the challenge. Again, in May 2021, there was a sense of optimism, only to be faced with the late summer Delta variant and the late autumn Omicron variant. Many school districts opened their doors in August 2021 for in-person instruction while others chose hybrid. Due to rising infection rates, many had to go back and forth between in-person and virtual learning. Some have continued with virtual instruction only.

Though we haven’t been able to visit our affiliated sites in-person, Children Incorporated staff has stayed in close contact through lots of emails and phone calls, as well as virtual visits via FaceTime, Zoom, and Google Meet. Over the next weeks, we will share with you stories from our “virtual trip report” about our organization’s affiliations in beautiful Floyd County, Kentucky and how our sponsors’ support has been especially important during the past two years.

We hope you enjoy taking this “virtual trip” with us and thank you for all your support of children in our program in Floyd County, Kentucky and around the world!

About Floyd County

Coal was first discovered in the American colonies in 1750. It was found in what would become Kentucky, when explorer Thomas Walker used some coal to heat his campfire. However, it would be another 150 years before coal was mined in the Eastern Coalfields region on a large commercial scale. In 1820, the first commercial coal mine opened in Muhlenberg County, in western Kentucky.

The decline of the coal industry has in so many ways effected families and communities in Eastern Kentucky.

Floyd County was a former major coal mining area with a long and noted history of which its residents are extremely proud. In 1900, the first commercial coal mine in the Eastern Coalfields region was opened in the Betsy Layne community in Floyd County. Coal mining experienced periods of boom and bust during the 20th century. The two world wars were boom periods. The first was followed by a deep bust, brought on by the end of war production and the start of the Great Depression. After World War II, the Korean War kept the second boom going longer. However, railroads and households began shifting from coal to oil and gas for their energy needs, and the industry experienced another downturn.

The decline of coal

Two developments have resulted in the major reduction of  coal mines — increased mechanization which has reduced the need for labor, and the regulation of factory emissions by the 1990 Clean Air Act. Kentucky coal, has a high sulfur content, making it less desirable than coal in other parts of the country, and factory emissions with high sulfur content contribute to high rates of acid rain, which leads to deforestation and makes water sources acidic. Coal companies can remove the sulfur through scrubbers, switch to mining low-sulfur coal, which is found in western states like Wyoming, or pay fines for their sulfur production.

The result of factory emissions regulation has been a steadily decreasing number of coal mines and of well-paying mining jobs in eastern Kentucky. But the issue goes beyond that, as the coal economy once supported communities across the entire Eastern Coalfields region. Other sectors, which have fewer customers with purchasing power, such as the banking, engineering, construction, transportation, and related manufacturing sectors, have been impacted as well. Over time, the results are fewer jobs, and those left are mostly service jobs (fast food restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, etc.) that pay low wages. With the decline of the coal industry came a rise in poverty.

Poverty is linked to poor health and food insecurity, and Floyd County residents have long been plagued by all three. In Floyd County, rates of premature death and infant mortality are twice as high than the rest of the nation. Three in ten adults are obese. Four in ten adults exercise less than once a month. More than one-third of adults describe their health as fair or poor. More than one-third smoke, which is twice the national average. There is also a serious problem with opioid addiction. Some Floyd County families have trouble getting to the doctor, contacting the doctor, or just don’t believe in going to the doctor.

For the children, the schools have been a place not only of education, but the lifeline of the federal free breakfast and lunch program.

Extreme poverty in Kentucky

In 2019, USA Today reported a finding by 24/7 Wall Street, which had conducted an index study of three measures: poverty, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and average life expectancy at birth. They used these to identify the “25 Worst Counties In Which To Live In America.” Floyd County was #25. The report stated Floyd County, in the center of Appalachian Kentucky, epitomizes the social and economic problems of the region. More than 30% of residents live below the poverty line, and a similar percentage rely on SNAP benefits (food stamps) to afford minimum basic essentials. Floyd is losing residents rapidly. In the last five years, the population has dropped 5.1% even as the U.S. population grew by 3.8%.

For 10 years, the organization Feeding America has been conducting a “Map the Meal Gap” study to improve our understanding of food insecurity. The term refers to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of both lack of access to enough food for an active healthy lifestyle and limited availability of nutritious food. Food insecure children are those living in food insecure households. The most recent mapping was based on data from 2018. However, due to Covid-19, the organization also released a companion study and interactive map to show the impact of the pandemic on food insecurity. For Floyd County, the overall food insecurity rate is 22.1%. The child food insecurity rate is 31.7%.

According to the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) website, the all-age poverty rate in Floyd County has declined since 2000. However, the U.S. Census Bureau shows the all-age poverty rate is still high at 27.4%, and using the last available data from 2018, the “Well Being in The Nation Network” shows the Floyd County child poverty rate is 31.7%. Both rates are higher than the national averages.

The importance of our partnerships

For the children, the schools have been a place not only of education, but the lifeline of the federal free breakfast and lunch program. The schools are also a place of community and care, of secure and stable routines, and exposure to the enrichment of activities, clubs, and athletics. The Covid-19 pandemic has kept vulnerable children at home for much of the past two years. Some children adapted well to remote learning, but others not so much.

Our valued partnership with the Family Resource Youth Services Centers is so important to providing basic necessities to children in our program. Our missions are complementary, and our sponsors and donors provide the resources that help them remove barriers to the children’s full potential.

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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

Children Incorporated is thrilled to announce our partnership with the Spirit Airlines Charitable Foundation. To mark fifteen years of flights to San Jose, Costa Rica, Spirit Airlines wanted to give back to children, families, and communities in the area.

“Lanie Morgenstern, the Senior Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility & Strategic Partnerships with Spirit Airlines contacted us and was very enthusiastic about our work in Costa Rica,” explained Children Incorporated Director of Development, Shelley Callahan.

Spirit Airlines is committed to having a positive impact on the world in many different ways through their partnerships with organizations just like ours.

“Lanie felt that our work directly lined up with the mission and vision of the Spirit Airlines Charitable Foundation and wanted to provide immediate educational and basic needs support to children who attend our affiliated sites in San Jose.”

“I also felt that this partnership was ideal for both the children in our programs and for the sites we support. The donation from Spirit Airlines Charitable Foundation will allow our volunteer coordinators to purchase much-needed food items, hygiene items, mattresses, clothes, shoes and school supplies for the children we support,” explained Callahan.

“These items are essential to their health, well-being, and education and we are so grateful for Lanie and the whole Spirit Airlines Team.”

Spirit Airlines is committed to having a positive impact on the world in many different ways through their partnerships with organizations just like ours.

Its website states: “The Spirit Charitable Foundation believes change starts by giving back. We are committed to inspiring positive change in the communities where we live and work. We invest in organizations that have a meaningful social impact on the lives of Children and Families, Service Members and the Environment, through Team Member volunteerism, monetary, and in-kind donations. Every child should have a bright future, which is why we support and volunteer with organizations that focus on developing our next generation. Our efforts improve children’s lives and their future opportunities to learn and grow and become successful members of their communities.”

Thank you, Spirit Airlines Charitable Foundation, for all your support!

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Today, Mexico is the world’s tenth most populous nation — and largest Spanish-speaking country by population — with a growing, diversified economy and a relatively stable democratic government. However, despite the country’s wealth of culture, history, natural resources and beauty, many natives and immigrants are plagued by impoverished living conditions. Crime and murder rates in the country are high, and corruption and drug cartel activity are constant sources of concern despite efforts to eliminate them.

In Mexico, children’s very lives and futures are at risk, as they struggle with poverty and lack of educational resources. Right now, children in Mexico need your help.

Mexico has long suffered from high poverty and lack of social programs. The COVID-19 pandemic has likely made these issues worse, and according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a joint study conducted with the Mexican government, more than 20 million Mexican children and adolescents are estimated to live in poverty, and five million of them in extreme poverty.

Additionally, the study found that nearly 14% of Mexican children under five years of age are stunted, meaning they are slowed in their development often as a result of malnutrition. The rate is higher in rural areas, reaching nearly 33%. 

Challenges for Children in Mexico

In Mexico, children’s very lives and futures are at risk, as they struggle with poverty and lack of educational resources. Right now, children in Mexico need your help.

  • Over half of Mexican children 18 years old and younger (52.6 percent) live in poverty
  • 4 million Mexican children live in extreme poverty
  • 30% of children between the ages of 3 and 5 do not receive an education
  • In Mexico, only 62% of the children start high school, and only 45% of them finish
  • In 6 out of every 10 households a child is forced to work to contribute to his or her family


Our Work in Mexico

Thanks to caring people like you, Children Incorporated has helped thousands of impoverished children in Mexico since 1964.

We work with our volunteer coordinators in local communities to provide health and nutrition, education, hygiene items, clothes, shoes, and other essentials that help children and families rise above the poverty in which they live. Our strategy is to focus on individual children through our sponsorship program, ensuring they are receiving exactly what they need on a regular basis.

Your support makes all our work possible for children in Mexico who are living in crisis.

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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


SOURCES:

https://news.un.org/en/story/2013/04/436072-majority-poor-mexico-are-children-un-report

https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2022/01/24/cf-fostering-inclusion-in-mexico

https://www.esperanzacontigo.org/en/publication/74/help-fight-poverty-in-mexico

After a little more than a week in Mexico, the time has come for Luis and I to visit our last affiliated site before returning home to the United States.

Hogar Santa Maria is located just across the river from the city center of Guadalajara where you will find high rise hotels and a bustling main street. The contrast is stark as we drive from our hotel to the neighborhood where Santa Maria is located — it is completely different from one side of the city to the other. Wealth and commerce are contrasted with poverty and old, small buildings. One side is modern and striving, growing towards the future, while the other seems to not be a part of the same world.

It is so apparent that these children feel loved and safe at Santa Maria.

The same but different

These were all the same feelings I had the first time I visited Santa Maria in 2016, but I doubted that everything had stayed exactly the same due to the pandemic. If Santa Maria was anything like all our other affiliated sites in Mexico, our coordinators also had to go through big changes to continue to provide for the children in our program.

When we arrived at the Home, we were greeted by one of the four sisters who takes care of the children, and Santa Maria’s full-time social worker. Unfortunately, our coordinator was away in Mexico City having surgery and couldn’t be with us for our visit, but we were made to feel welcome all the same, given a tour of the facility, and heard about how our sponsorship program has been going over the past few years.

The social worker explained that they were able to continue to provide support for the children during quarantine when the children were sent home, largely thanks to our sponsors. The children only returned just a few short months ago when public schools finally opened again, and now 18 children are living at Santa Maria again during the weekdays. Since before the pandemic, attendance has gone down, and although the home isn’t at full capacity again, almost all of the children who attend have sponsors through Children Incorporated.

As we wandered through the dormitories and the small classrooms, we talked also about the ways in which Santa Maria is a blessing for families in the community. With many parents working long hours or overnight shifts, it is crucial for young children to have a place to live, learn and play with their friends during the week.

With many parents working long hours or overnight shifts, it is crucial for young children to have a place to live, learn and play with their friends during the week.

The parents pay a very small fee for the children to stay at the Home, which as it was explained to us, was mostly just to ensure they felt invested in their child’s care, and less about what the money really provided. Fortunately for these children, their sponsors help make sure they have healthy meals every day, new clothes and shoes, and school supplies throughout the year.

As we finish up our tour, the children arrive excited and, unknowingly to us, expecting our visit. As we gather in the dining room, the children have a surprise for Luis and me — they have learned a song to sing to us to say thanks to our organization and all of our sponsors.

It is so apparent that these children feel loved and safe at Santa Maria, which is important to giving their parents peace of mind while they work. For these children, Santa Maria ensures they and their parents have nothing to worry about while they are there so they can focus on enjoying just being kids.

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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.

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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