In the northern part of Pike County, Kentucky lies the Belfry community, which pertains to the Thacker Coalfield. Years ago, there were active mines there; but today, the mines are no longer worked, and many parents of our sponsored and unsponsored kids have found themselves scrambling to find jobs – none of which pay as well as working in the mines did. Most available employment is in the service industry, such as at convenience marts and fast food restaurants for minimum wage – which means that many families have less money than they used to, and that they have to make hard decisions about which basic necessities to buy for their children. In considering their needs, important hygiene products are often overlooked.
A very devoted coordinator
On a recent trip to Pike County, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, was warmly greeted by our long-term Volunteer Coordinator at Belfry High School, Pat. Formerly our coordinator at Runyon Elementary School, Pat has seen the value of our sponsorship program over many years. She explained to Renée that when she moved from the elementary school to the high school, working with older kids was a big adjustment for her, because they have a lot more issues and insecurities than younger students. She is now thriving as our coordinator, and she finds herself very devoted to and protective of the teenagers she supports through the school’s Family Resource Center.
Belfry High School is the largest in the county, with an enrollment of 648 students in grades nine through twelve. The building was constructed in 2005 between the communities of Belfry and Goody; the former high school building became another affiliated project of ours, Belfry Middle School. While they met in the resource center, Pat shared with Renée that her budget has been cut drastically over the past few school years. Pat has tirelessly sought community partnerships to provide for her students; one that she acquired is with a small local realty company that donated a few new coats for the holiday season. Pat says she doesn’t know what she would do without the Children Incorporated program, which she feels is vital in helping the most impoverished students at the school, who would otherwise not receive any assistance at all.
For both boys and girls, hygiene is about more than just health and well-being – when kids feel clean, they also feel confident, and their self-esteem is raised.
Keeping kids confident
Beyond clothing and school supplies, Pat’s greatest need is for hygiene items, which families are not legally able to purchase with food stamps. Additionally, when parents and guardians need to pay bills and buy food, deodorant and soap can be low on their priority lists; kids, therefore, might go without them. These items are essential for students as they grow – especially for high school students – because without them, children feel like they don’t fit in with other kids. As a result, they may skip school out of embarrassment. Pat told Renée that it is especially important that she be able to provide sanitary supplies for her female students on a regular basis, because it makes a huge difference in the girls’ attendance.
For both boys and girls, hygiene is about more than just health and well-being – when kids feel clean, they also feel confident, and their self-esteem is raised. It is important for kids to feel good about themselves, because only then can they concentrate on obtaining an education and doing well in school, rather than be concerned about whether their hygiene is up to par with that of their classmates. Thankfully, adolescents enrolled in our program at Belfry High School have their sponsors’ monthly support to help them receive the hygiene items they so greatly need.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.