Tag Archives: Virginia

A Meaningful Gift for Ms. Wilson

This story was originally written before the COVID-19 outbreak and has been updated for publication. 

In late February, I had the pleasure of not only attending the concert of one of our sponsors, Mary Wilson (of the legendary Supremes), but she also let me set up a table at the venue to let her fans know about Children Incorporated’s work. As concertgoers entered the building, they passed right by me, and many stopped to pick up literature about our sponsorship and special gifts programs.

Lynetta’s gift to Ms. Wilson was a testament to the value of our sponsorship program and the importance of what we, through our kind and generous sponsors, offer to children around the world.

Once the concert started, I took my seat for Ms. Wilson’s performance. Ms. Wilson, who turned 76 years old just a few days later, was at the top of her game that evening. She sang not only her classic Motown hits, but also a variety of other styles of music. She kept the crowd engaged from the first to the last note she sang, not only with her music, but also with her warmth and humor.

After the show, I returned to the table I set up prior to the show, and again, many people stopped to chat with me as they waited for Ms. Wilson to come out and sign autographs. When she did arrive, she was seated right beside me, and as people came to her for an autograph or to get a book or photo signed, she pointed to me and said repeatedly, “This is my friend, Ron. You need to talk to him. I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated, and you can too.”

I was so pleased with the way she encouraged people to talk to me, and many did. Interest in  Children Incorporated’s work was high.

Ms. Wilson pictured with Mr. Carter.

After Ms. Wilson greeted her fans, she moved across the room to take photographs with many more of them. Once the photo-taking was over, I presented her with a lovely card and handmade bracelet that her sponsored child, Lynetta*, had created just for her. When she saw the bracelet, she immediately took off her silver one and replaced it with Lynetta’s heartfelt gift. As she did, I was able to tell the guests who were still assembled about Children Incorporated and our life-changing work in the United States and in 20 additional countries.

The whole evening was perfect. Lynetta’s gift to Ms. Wilson was a testament to the value of our sponsorship program and the importance of what we, through our kind and generous sponsors, offer to children around the world. It was magical to be able to share that experience with Ms. Wilson and her fans.

*Name changed to protect the child. 

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Ms. Wilson recently created a video to share, asking that others join her in supporting children through our sponsorship program. We are incredibly grateful for her dedication to Children Incorporated.

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How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child 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 that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Children Incorporated Fall 2019 Newsletter

In 1964, the average cost of a new home in the United States was $13,050. Postage stamps were 5 cents each, and a gallon of gasoline cost just 25 cents more than that. In the same year, a young woman named Jeanne Clarke Wood started Children Incorporated out of her home in Richmond, Virginia to improve the lives of children who often went hungry and without having their most basic needs met.

Fifty-five years later, the work of Children Incorporated is still changing lives.

Reports from those early days indicate that funds provided by Children Incorporated were life-changing. Hungry children were fed. Children who had been wearing threadbare clothes and shoes with holes in the soles were outfitted with sturdy clothing. Young people, who had gone without paper, pencils and necessary schoolbooks were provided with them.

Fifty-five years later, the work of Children Incorporated is still changing lives.

Thanks to our donors and sponsors, we have changed the lives of approximately 300,000 children and their families in the last six decades. Today, our dedication to improving lives and providing education, hope and opportunity is as strong — if not stronger — than ever.

Thanks to You, Children in Puerto Rico Have New Playground Equipment

Thanks to the generosity of our wonderful donors, Children Incorporated recently purchased and installed brand new playground equipment at the Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This playground offers a safe place for children in the surrounding community to play under the supervision of caring adults — something they have not had in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Brand New Textbooks for Students in Kenya

In Kenya, children are often required to purchase their own textbooks — an expense that is a significant burden for their families. Thanks to donations  from our donors, we were able to send additional support to the Dandora Center in Nairobi — our affiliated project — for the purchase of schoolbooks. With this help, students at the school recently received books at no cost!

In Guatemala, a New Skills Training Program Teaches Dressmaking

We recently received photos from our volunteer coordinator at the Juan Apostol School in Guatemala City, Guatemala, of students learning how to sew thanks to the newly implemented Dressmaking Program. Students learn sewing skills that they can apply to their personal lives or use in the future to generate income.

This is the fifth training program implemented at the Juan Apostol School, thanks to our donors and sponsors. Other programs include Cosmetology, Food Preparation, Computer Repair and Maintenance, Graphic Design and Music.

Back to School season is one of the toughest times for children in need. Not having new outfits or school supplies to start the school year off right can diminish their confidence and make it difficult for them to focus.

Thankfully, children in our program — like those in Letcher County, Kentucky — receive bookbags and other school supplies, so they have the tools they need to feel good about themselves and to start the school year ready to learn!

Letter from our Volunteer Coordinators 

“I truly believe Children Incorporated has made an impact on my students’ lives. I have seen their smiles, felt their hugs and their appreciation for gifts and letters of encouragement from their sponsors.”

– Deborah, Kentucky

“As I’ve said for years, the sponsors are the true heroes of the Children Incorporated program. It is amazing to think that strangers care enough about a child — a child they have never, and most likely will never, meet — to send help. I hope sponsors realize that the friendships and bonds they create with these children are just as valuable as their monetary donations. Children Incorporated and its sponsors are changing the world one child at a time.”

– Stacy, West Virginia

“We would like to thank the sponsors for their support. All children want to know they’re cared about, and I can tell you that you have provided these children with lots of smiles. The Children Incorporated program has given our students a huge sense of pride as well as the knowledge that someone cares. Parents come in and say, ‘I appreciate the sponsorship so much.’ I’m surprised at how much people are willing to give, especially to children they’ve never seen in person. My words of thanks fall way short of conveying how important sponsors are in these kids’ lives.”

– Wally, North Carolina

Four-Star Rating with Charity Navigator for the Fourth Year in a Row

We are proud to announce Children Incorporated has earned our fourth consecutive 4-star rating with Charity Navigator!

Charity Navigator is an independent American charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States. The four-star rating is the highest possible rating that an organization can receive from Charity Navigator, and it shows that Children Incorporated adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way.

Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Children Incorporated exceeds industry standards and demonstrates our trustworthiness to the public. We believe in full transparency of our financial management and are grateful to be recognized for our dedication as stewards of your generosity.

Sincerely yours,

Ronald H. Carter President and CEO

Congratulations to our Higher Education Fund Recipient, Sarah!

We want to give huge congratulations to Sarah, one of our amazing sponsored children and Higher Education Program participants. Sarah recently graduated from college with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.

Sarah writes:

“Children Incorporated has been a part of my life since I was in kindergarten. They have helped my family and me through difficult times. I have received many packages and letters that have supplied me with new clothes and great memories. Also, I received help to get me through college when I did not know if I would be able to go or not. If it were not for Children Incorporated or the sponsors that fund this great organization, I would not have had the same childhood or college experience. I want to express my gratitude and say thank you to everyone who has helped me.”

We are very proud of you, Sarah!

*Name changed to protect the child.

The History of Our U.S. Programs

We are very proud of our U.S. Programs, which support children not only in rural areas of the United States, but in urban areas as well. Just as all organizations do, we started out small, with only a few affiliated projects; and we gradually added more over time.

Our U.S. Division has grown quickly over the years thanks to our great partnerships.

When Children Incorporated began in 1964, our focus was on one country in particular: Guatemala. Soon, we started to offer assistance in the United States, too. By the late 1960s, our U.S. Programs Division consisted of one site in Menifee, Kentucky, one site in Rutledge, Tennessee, and a few sites near Farmington, New Mexico. Just twenty years later, we encompassed two divisions in four states: an Appalachian Division in North Carolina; and a Native American Division in Arizona, New Mexico, and North Dakota. The organization lost its connections with sites in Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Dakota after a while. By the late 1980s, we had expanded to 32 projects total in North Carolina, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Growing fast

During the mid to late 1990s, our U.S. Programs Division experienced its greatest growth period. Appalachian affiliations were initiated in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. The organization began to focus on the state of Kentucky again, and we developed a partnership with Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC). By partnering with these centers, Children Incorporated was able to expand our program throughout many counties in Eastern Kentucky. Our Native American Division simultaneously began making affiliations in South Dakota and Utah.

Today, we affiliate with 147 projects in New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. to help thousands of children in the United States every day.

Addressing urban and rural poverty

By the early 2000s, the need for our program in urban areas became apparent; so Children Incorporated decided to tackle the issue head-on. After focusing on rural poverty during much of our history, we felt the need to address and respond to urban poverty. By partnering with Communities In Schools (CIS), a school dropout prevention program that works in public school systems in the United States, we were able to expand our outreach even further, and assist children in Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Richmond, Virginia; and New Orleans.

Today, we affiliate with 147 projects in New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. to help thousands of children in the United States every day, by providing them with basic needs so they can attend school, obtain an education, and have the opportunities they deserve and need to succeed in life.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN THE UNITED STATES?

You can sponsor a child in the United States 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 the United States who is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

Making Memories with Back to School Shopping

According to the National Retail Federation, last year’s back to school shopping reached $27 million. It is the second largest shopping season for retailers, after the winter holidays. In fact, the beginning of a new school year is a little like Christmas; the children are excited, and everything is shiny and new. But just like during the holiday season, many families wince at the economic pinch they feel as fall approaches, having to stock up on school supplies for their children at the close of summer break.

Our Back to School Fund helps kids, especially those still waiting hopefully for sponsors of their own, to experience the happiness of getting the things they need to have a great start to the school year.

Most of us have fond memories of back to school shopping – the happiness of opening a new box of crayons, with their bright colors, waxy smell, and perfect pointy tips; the fun of choosing spiral-bound notebooks with your favorite movie or television characters; the pride of having new shoes. However, for impoverished parents and guardians, these are memories they can’t afford to make with their children.

The pride of new supplies

Over the years, as I have traveled to our affiliated schools in the United States and talked with our dedicated volunteer coordinators, I have often heard that back to school time is difficult, and often very stressful for the families in the communities we serve.

Our Back to School Fund helps our coordinators stock cabinets full of supplies for children for when they return to school from summer break.

When a summer electric bill is due or food stamps have run out, or the old car needs a repair so you can get to your part-time job at the mini-mart on time, getting your child new clothing and supplies for school is something that gets moved to the back of the line. And if there is a big brother or sister who needs new clothes and supplies as well, then the cost has doubled. These items may be essential for kids, but they can also be impossible for parents to afford.

We know that receiving a new outfit and school supplies provides concrete benefits above and beyond confidence and self-esteem – these items help kids stay on track to attend school regularly and to keep up with their classmates. Giving them the tools to learn sets them up for success for the entire school year.

Wanting to Fit In

In addition to poverty, many of the children we serve are also dealing with some kind of trauma. The family situation may be chaotic and unhappy. Yet, while coping with poverty and instability, the children in our program want to look and feel just like any other kid. They want to fit in. Imagine the joy on a little girl’s face when she receives a new backpack emblazoned with Disney princesses, when she has never had a new book bag to start school; for once, she feels “normal”.

In the midst of their struggles, Children Incorporated and our caring sponsors and donors serve as a safety net. Our Back to School Fund helps kids, especially those still waiting hopefully for sponsors of their own, to experience the happiness of getting the things they need to have a great start to the school year. Your contributions will bring happiness, hope, and success to many children in need.

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE BACK TO SCHOOL FUND?

You can donate to the Back to School Fund in one of two ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to the Back to School Fund.

A New Playground and New Supplies for Students in Richmond

Last November, Children Incorporated staff members Renée Kube, Shelley Oxenham, and Chuck Smith helped rebuild a playground at G.H. Reid Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, where we partner with Communities in Schools of Richmond (CIS) to support sponsored children in the Richmond area, near our headquarters.

Just a few months prior, over summer break, the old playground was set on fire, and it spread around the equipment, melting and disfiguring most of it, and leaving the 750 Richmond public school children with few options for outdoor play.

Partners in Rebuilding

Fun supplies makes for a good time for kids

A few of the donated supplies for kids at G.H. Reid Elementary

Renée, our Director of U.S. Programs, explained that the playground rebuild project was able to happen thanks to KaBOOM, a national nonprofit that builds playgrounds, especially in low-income areas.

The CarMax Foundation also stepped up to contribute funds and materials for the build, and Renée attended the volunteer workday, along with her Children Incorporated coworkers Shelley, U.S. Programs Specialist, and Chuck, U.S. Sponsorship Manager.

About 250 volunteers built the playground from the ground up in just one day. One of the jobs Renée, Shelley, and Chuck were assigned was painting maps and game boards onto the playground surface.

A Big Initiative

By the end of May, we had $1,000 to donate to G.H. Reid, and we couldn’t wait to present the check to them, as well as contribute some supplies to get them started.

In early 2017, Children Incorporated promoted Renée, Shelley, and Chuck’s story about helping to rebuild the playground. We took that opportunity to mention another initiative as well: we wanted to provide additional funding to the school for the playground’s upkeep, such as laying new mulch and repainting, which it would be in need of at the end of the school year. But by early spring, that initiative grew beyond just helping with maintenance, thanks to a special sponsor, Micah Greer – it turned into a campaign to raise funds to purchase playground supplies as well.

Micah is the founder of Operation Optimist, a web-based clothing company in Austin, Texas, and he is a personal trainer. Micah has been a sponsor through Children Incorporated for more than a year, and he decided to take his involvement to new heights by making the generous offer to donate ten percent of all of his merchandise sales to our organization. When Micah sent Children Incorporated a check for $500 in April, we decided we would use the funds to purchase supplies for children to use in support of healthy living, since that’s one of Micah’s primary focuses. And we asked donors to match it – which they happily did! By the end of May, we had $1,000 to donate to G.H. Reid, and we couldn’t wait to present the check to them, as well as contribute some supplies to get them started.

Presenting the check to our volunteer coordinator to purchase even more playground supplies for the fall

The Dream List

With the funding in place, Renée asked for a “dream list” of playground supplies from G.H. Reid, which was provided by Mr. Vickers, the physical education teacher there. Mr. Vickers told our volunteer coordinator, Sydney Capito, that the children could use detachable hurdles, a handled parachute, dumbbells, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, kick balls, and hula-hoops. Renée purchased some of the items, including a flag football set and wiffle ball bats. We were so excited to take fun supplies to the school last week, and to present a check to Sydney, who knows the children will be thrilled to have all this new gear to play with in the upcoming school year.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN RICHMOND, VIRGINIA?

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

Volunteers Restore School Playground Destroyed by Arson

Someone set fire to the playground matting at G.H. Reid Elementary School last summer. The fire spread around the equipment, melting and disfiguring most of it, and leaving the 750 Richmond, Virginia public school children with few options for outdoor play.

But when bad things happen, good people often start showing up to help. Hundreds of volunteers from various Richmond organizations, including Children Incorporated, stepped up to help out last November.

But when bad things happen, good people often start showing up to help.

Together, they rebuilt the playground in just one day.

Community support

Renée Kube, director of U.S. Programs for Children Incorporated, explained that the project was led by KaBoom, a national nonprofit that builds playgrounds, especially in low-income areas.

“We had been told by our volunteer coordinator at the school that funding had been secured from KaBoom,” she said. “But KaBoom requires community buy-in — additional community funding and also hands-on help — so what they really needed from us was warm bodies to come and work all day.”

They also needed maintenance funding, and Children Incorporated pledged to provide that as well.

A one-of-a-kind design

But it was the children who designed the playground, which was based on ideas and drawings submitted by students at the school. Because the children created their own ideas and voted on what they wanted, the Reid Elementary School playground is one-of-a-kind.

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The playground under construction

The CarMax Foundation and KaBoom put in most of the upfront money and materials, and on November 3rd, Kube turned up to work, along with her Children Incorporated co-workers, Shelley Oxenham, U.S. Programs Specialist, and Chuck Smith, U.S. Sponsorship Manager.

They were among about 250 volunteers who built the playground from the ground up in just one day. One of the jobs Kube, Oxenham, and Smith were tasked with was painting maps and game boards onto the playground surface.

A global concern

They painted maps of the United States and of the world, a hopscotch board, and other game lines on the blacktop. Fortunately, Kube said, they didn’t have to be experts on global geography in order to get the maps down.

“KaBoom sent people out the day before to plan out where things would go,” she said. “They decided where to put the monkey bars and swings, and they drew out the outline of the maps for us.”

When the work team arrived on November 3rd, they painted the maps, after some redesign.

“One of the volunteers looked at the map of the world and said, ‘That’s not right,’” Kube recounted. “He was Dutch, and he said that part was wrong – so we said, ‘Okay, you’re in charge of Scandinavia.’”

They also needed maintenance funding, and Children Incorporated pledged to provide that as well.

An enthusiastic audience

In addition to the playground, the team built a swing set, a giant Connect 4 board, and a trellis with a bench and cubbies. They also painted the maps and blacktop games, and repainted the lines on the basketball court. They cleared out a garden area, and removed trash and debris from the site.

While the volunteers worked, the children tried – mostly without success – to concentrate in their classes.

“It was tremendously exciting,” Kube said. “The kids were peeking out the windows to watch it going up, and at the end of the day, they were leaning out of the school buses, looking at this new equipment so longingly.”

“They had to wait several days for the concrete to set before they could use their new playground, but since then, it’s been well-used and appreciated,” Kube said.

Ongoing maintenance

Our staff members Renée, Shelley and Chuck

The heavy use the playground will get is one of the things Children Incorporated has pledged to keep up with. With 750 children running across its surfaces every day, the paint won’t hold up forever – and neither will the mulch spread around it.

Children Incorporated will provide funding to repaint and re-mulch the playground as needed – and they may even provide the manpower, too, Kube said.

“We just built it in November, so maintenance is not an issue yet,” she said. “They’ll look at it at the end of the school year and see what needs to be done. We will definitely be providing funding for mulch and maintenance – and, if needed, we’ll be doing the work ourselves.”

Other community groups may put in the physical labor too, Kube said. One church in the area said they couldn’t raise maintenance funds but could provide volunteers to help spread mulch once Children Incorporated purchases it. The paint job may go the same way.

“We want to keep it attractive, and we want to keep it safe,” Kube said.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN Richmond?

You can sponsor a child in Richmond, Virginia by calling our office and speaking with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381 or by emailing us at sponsorship@childrenincorporated.org.