“Denny,” says Big Creek People in Action Extra Cool Afterschool program teacher Maria Frazier, is a fourth-grader who is “a joy to teach and always has a smile on his face.”

But he has had his ups and downs when it came to the quality of his school work. Denny is one of four children from “a decent but poor family” and it’s hard for his parents to give each of them the individual encouragement they need, Maria told us.

Denny in particular had trouble with spelling when he first entered the afterschool program, but with that one-on-one attention he went from failing tests to making perfect scores.

“We made a big deal over it and took his picture with his test and put it on the wall,” she said. “He was so proud.”

However, after that success, he began to show up saying he didn’t have any homework (which Maria knew was not true). So Maria had an idea – she began offering him a small prize or piece of candy when he would bring in his homework.

“Believe it or not, this worked!” Maria said. “Now Denny’s grades have improved and he usually has his homework out and ready before I even ask. Small things like this make my job rewarding.”

At Americans Helping Americans®, we believe it’s the small things such as finding an innovative way to provide youngsters with that tiny bit of encouragement to help them succeed that makes for much bigger and better things – and that makes our job so rewarding as well.

Thanks to your support, we are able to provide assistance to BCPIA’s Extra Cool Afterschool program and help to being there for “Denny” and so many others just like him.