*Note: This blog was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much has changed regarding our sponsored children’s learning experience in the past months, our On the Road stories remain relevant in regards to our volunteer coordinator’s work and the impact of sponsorship on children in our program thanks to our sponsors. We are pleased to continue to share stories with you about our work.
The remote town of Dennehotso, where the Dennehotso Boarding School is located, is about 98 miles northeast of Tuba City, Arizona.
A Children Incorporated affiliated project since 1984, the Dennehotso Boarding School is a community grant school that operates with a grant from the Bureau of Indian Education.
By 2013, the school’s original structure was old and dilapidated beyond repair, and a new school was constructed on available grounds in front of the older buildings, which were then demolished. Today, the boarding school complex is over 46,000 square feet, serving as a day school for those who live in the community and a boarding school for those who live in distant areas. There are roughly 185 students in the day school and 33 boarding school students in kindergarten to eighth grades.
Parents may work in service jobs, but these jobs are often seasonal and disappear when the tourist season is over.
Getting to know our long-term coordinator at Dennehotso
Our volunteer coordinator at Dennehotso Boarding School is Lucy, who is a long-term employee of the school and long-time Children Incorporated coordinator.
Lucy works as the school’s Parent Liaison and Student Data Technician and also serves as the school bus driver for those students who live far away so they can get home on Friday afternoons to spend the weekends with their families.
“Lucy works hard to help her students. When it comes to supporting children in our sponsorship program, she has to go more than two hours away to get to the closest place for her to shop for kid’s clothes and school supplies,” explained our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube.
During a meeting at Dennehotso between Renée and Lucy, Lucy explained that the community struggles with employment problems. Parents may work in service jobs, but these jobs are often seasonal and disappear when the tourist season is over. Then parents must go on welfare.
“Lucy told me about how there are a lot of single parents in the community, as well as relatives raising kids while children’s parents may be working elsewhere out of state. The staff of the school struggles with parent engagement. There is no PTA or PTO due to lack of participation,” said Renée.
“Lucy also said that the school struggles with funding. She said that dorm funding gets so low every year, that students run out of hygiene supplies and laundry detergent.”
A family in desperate need
While they continued to talk, Lucy told Renée about a group of siblings that she planned on enrolling in our program. The children are in and out of school with poor attendance, to the point where school administrators investigated their living situation.
During the home visit, they learned that there were no beds for the children — they were sleeping on the sofa and in chairs. The parents were also having difficulty keeping the children’s clothing clean. Lucy asked Renée for Hope In Action Program Funds for three foldable cots, sheets, and blankets to hold them over until they get sponsors to help with clothing and school supplies. Renée was happy to grant the request and assured Lucy she would get the Hope In Action Funds sent there as quickly as possible.
The dorm staff works hard to motivate them to do their homework, but they often get restless and find it hard to concentrate.
Rewarding children in the cold winter months
Before their meeting ended, Lucy mentioned to Renée that the children living in the dorms have very little to do for evening recreation in winter. Once it gets dark and cold in the evenings, they don’t get to play outside.
The dorm staff works hard to motivate them to do their homework, but they often get restless and find it hard to concentrate. The school administration has been thinking about putting a reward system in place. Lucy explained to Renée that she would also like to apply for Hope In Action funding to purchase an Amazon Firestick. Her idea is that once the children finish their homework, if they have been on good behavior, they can then watch movies under the supervision of dorm staff.
Knowing that Lucy is a dedicated and long-term coordinator who rarely asks for anything extra, Renée was happy to provide the Amazon Firestick for her, which was an inexpensive item. Renée loved the reward system idea, knowing that it would help the children focus on completing their homework and give them something to look forward to.
Due to the generosity of our sponsors, all of our enrolled Native American children are currently matched. However, we have many other U.S. children who are in need of a sponsor’s encouragement and support. You may also wish to consider a donation to our Covid-19 Response Fund or one of our other special funds at this time. Please feel free to contact us for further information.
How do I sponsor a child?
You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.