With each affiliated site I am fortunate enough to visit, I am perpetually reminded of just how invaluable it is to meet with our impassioned volunteer coordinators face-to-face on a regular basis. Through meeting with them, I am humbled and emboldened by their contagious passion, gratitude for Children Incorporated support, and desire to always do more — even if that means longer hours that bleed into their personal time.

As the day came to a close, I found myself so inspired by each and every one of these four women.

In mid-October of last year, I had the pleasure of meeting with an incredibly lively Geraldine in Page, Arizona, who is one-half of the Parent Liaison of Student Support Services dream team for the Page Unified School District. In that district, we are affiliated with four schools: Desert View Elementary School, Lake View Elementary School, Page Middle School, and Page High School. Upon picking me up, she immediately and proudly jumped into narrating the route that we were taking to get from my hotel to her office and talked about what I could expect to see and experience in the full day ahead of me.

Once we arrived at our meeting location at the Student Support Services office, I sat at a round table to meet with the elegant Lorraine, our current coordinator from the Indian Education Office; Geraldine; a smiling Virgie, the other half of Geraldine’s team; and an excited Sharon, Coordinator of Student Support Services. This was to be our new coordinator team, each member of which would exercise their distinctive talents and strengths in carrying out our program with Lorraine’s oversight: Geraldine would handle the finances, Geraldine and Virgie would do the shopping, and Sharon would manage our sponsorship program overall. All three women maintain regular contact with their community’s families.

A group photo of Kris (center) with our amazing coordinators from the Page United School District.

We immediately got down to business: the nuts and bolts of a smooth partnership for optimum assistance for the community they serve —  which led to a brainstorming session about how we could all do more to reach an even greater number of students through our affiliation. Their wonderfully-maintained and secure campus includes Page Preschool, some of whose 76 high-need students they will begin enrolling under the Lake View/Desert View Elementary School affiliation umbrella. The preschool and Desert View Elementary School are next door to one another, and the preschool uses the elementary school cafeteria and gymnasium. The grounds also house Manson Mesa High School, a school created out of necessity for students who qualify per alternative standards, because they are considered at risk of dropping out of school due to challenges to their obtaining an education.

Our Hope In Action Fund recently provided Manson Mesa with a foosball table and an air hockey table; when I was taken into the recreation room to see them, there was a young lady sleeping on a cushioned bench in there. As we walked out of the rec room, with knowing eyes, Geraldine punctuated the encounter with a comment that the students who attend Manson Mesa live especially difficult lives; the school adopts the approach of meeting these troubled teens wherever possible with the end goal of doing its very best to keep the kids in school, and have them eventually graduate.

We passed a music room where many students were engrossed in tinkering away at a variety of instruments alongside a mentor who was doing the same. I was introduced to enthusiastic staff member after enthusiastic staff member, all of whom sparkled when they were informed that I was from the organization whose donors had provided those tables to their rec room: “They are an invaluable recreational and distracting tool for our students,” they each told me gratefully, and in their own way.

We went off campus to visit Lake View Elementary School, which more than lives up to its name. Directly across from the school playground is Lake Powell, with water as deep blue as the sky at dusk, and which meanders through tall sun-dried canyons; the ladies explained that for Page residents, the lake serves as a great source of pride, as well as a meaningful source of income, as tourists visit the site for a boating experience unmatched anywhere else.

The reason Lake View Elementary School serves grades kindergarten through second, and Desert View Elementary School, third through fifth, is because when both schools served all primary grade levels, the district found that children’s parents were transferring students from one school to the other all too often, and for all sorts of reasons. In order to avoid the continuation of this issue of instability, the district opted to modify the grades that each respective school serves so that all Page Unified School District primary school students will now attend both elementary schools.

Through meeting with them, I am humbled and emboldened by their contagious passion, gratitude for Children Incorporated support, and desire to always do more.

Over the course of our day together the Page team informed me of a number of partnerships and programs that they maintain to supply the students they serve with the resources they need to obtain a quality education at their schools, which are cherished by so many Arizonians; some students come from even two hours away to attend the schools in Page — particularly because of the high school’s robust sports programs, which are followed and enjoyed statewide.

In addition to the support the Page team receives from Children Incorporated sponsors, McKinney-Vento Homeless Services provides funds, food, clothing, and an array of other basic necessities to the schools’ resource centers. In addition to offering a Friday Food Program, School Supply Assistance, Community Resource Connections, Advocacy, Attendance Monitoring, a Clothing Closet, and other significant programs, the women offer support in countless other ways.

Geraldine, a beautifully creative soul, for example, offers students craft projects with a purpose, such as card making for special occasions for students who are unable to afford cards; and journal making and journal keeping for those who may wish to learn a common practice for expressing their thoughts and feelings.

As the day came to a close, I found myself so inspired by each and every one of these four women; their commitment and productivity are an inspiration that will inform my work with Children Incorporated, as well as the everlasting value I attribute to our volunteers who manifest our work in the successes of the multitude of students they serve.


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.


Education, Stories of Hope, Arizona

written by Kristen Walthall

Kristen is our Assistant Director of U.S. Programs who oversees Children Incorporated’s work in the United States – from the rural southeast and southwest to our urban areas in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. She works closely with an outstanding network of more than 100 volunteer coordinators at each affiliated site to ensure the children in our program are receiving the support they need.

» more of Kristen's stories