In Jefferson City, Tennessee, Appalachian Outreach partners with the Jefferson City Housing Authority which provides a fully-equipped community room for an eight-week period, with Appalachia Outreach providing a four-day weekly program for children living in the city’s low-income housing units, as well as those homeless children living its Samaritan House family shelter.
The program is critical for the children living in these units and at the shelter, notes Appalachian Outreach Executive Director Jean-Ann Washam.
“The children attending this program would not be enrolled in a structured program this summer without our presence,” she told us. “As a result, some of these children would be left unattended.”
Appalachian Outreach is the only on-going program that serves the needs of these families at no cost. While are summer camps available, they charge a fee which would be unaffordable for these children’s parents.
In addition, transportation is an issue for these families so through its partnership with the housing authority, the summer camp site is within easy walking distance for the children and their parents.
In Beattyville, Kentucky life is hard for parents and children alike, as documented by an article in The New York Times describing it as one of the “hardest” places to live in the United States.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® in the fall and winter, school children receive school supplies, winter coats and new shoes, and through our effort to bridge the digital divide in the distressed community, 30 deserving children are selected to receive all-in-one desktop computers to use at home to do their homework and communicate with their teacher when school is closed due to inclement weather.
Many actually dread the summer break, knowing it can mean long days alone at home alone with nothing to do.
But through our partnership with Cumberland Mountain Outreach in Lee County a projected 250 children and youth will attend its Kids’ Day Camp and Teen Leadership program.
The camp provides day care and proper nutrition for the children whose parents cannot afford to send their child to the only other camp operated in the county, which costs about $100 per week.
“While our families are struggling to eat, paying for camp is out of the question,” says Cumberland Mountain Outreach Executive Director Cindy Evanoff, who noted that without their camp during the summer, many of these children would simply sit at home while eating unhealthy food and get very little or even no exercise.
At Cumberland Mountain Outreach’s day camp, which runs for five weeks, three days per week, the children will get breakfast, lunch and healthy snacks throughout the day, participate in singing and other enjoyable activities and get at least two hours of physical activity.
In a county where nearly 90 percent of elementary school children qualify for the free lunch program and the median household income is less than $20,000 and about half the population below the federal poverty level, Cumberland Mountain Outreach’s day camp creates an opportunity of a lifetime for these children.
“With this type of poverty in our county it is impossible for families to meet their basic needs and summer camp and other summer activities are seen as a luxury only for those who have money,” said Cindy.
She cites several reasons why the day camp is so important to low-income children in the community: To make sure they are not home alone or in an environment of neglect, or even abuse; providing an opportunity for healthy outdoor physical activities; and the camp’s most important function – making sure children are fed and healthy during the summer.
“We want all of our children to know they are loved and that we will be here for them with food, clothing, counseling and another other services they may need,” says Cindy.
To be continued ….
This summer, as it has every year since 2010, Big Creek People in Action will once again be offering its Super Why Reading Camps and Odd Squad Math Camp in collaboration with West Virginia Public Broadcasting expected to serve about 60 children with educational fun for six weeks.
The Super Why camps are designed for children ages 3-7 providing five days of interactive learning adventures that show children the power of reading and motivate them to play with letters, sounds and words through a comprehensive curriculum.
We had heard from Big Creek People in Action co-executive directors Dyanne Spriggs and Marsha Timpson that there are been preschool children coming to camp on the first day not knowing their ABCs who by the end of the week know the entire alphabet and the sounds the letters make, and even spell their very own name before entering their first day of first grade.
The Odd Squad “Be the Agent” math camps are for slightly older children ages 5 – 10 where they use math, science and critical thinking in their quest to become agents following the format of the Emmy-winning PBS show.
The camps are made possible through a partnership with West Virginia Public Broadcasting which provides and program materials, resources and training, while Big Creek People in Action provides the staff to organize, advertise, recruit and run the camps, as well as ensuring the children receive a healthy lunch every day at each of the camps.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we are able to provide funding which pays for the food, drinks and snacks served to the children, books and literacy packets for them to take home, transportation costs, for the additional staffing required to run the program.
Without the funding from Americans Helping Americans®, Dyanne told us that they would not be able to serve as many children as they do each summer.
“If we didn’t have the funding to support this program, we wouldn’t be able to watch the young campers laugh and learn as they build literacy skills through classic fairytales with empowering superhero characters and their math skills through solving cases as ‘special agents,’” she said.
To be continued ….
In many respects Juan was a typical middle school boy, but he also suffered from isolation. He had no friends and was shy because he could not speak clearly with his classmates.
“He often felt alone and afraid, so he mostly kept to himself,” we were told by Mary Mauricio, founder and director of our longtime partner in Gainesville, Georgia, L.A.M.P. Ministries, which operates an afterschool program designed exactly for children and youth like Juan.
But all it took for Juan to come out of his shell and not feel so self-conscious was a few days of attending LAMP’s program and reassurances from Mary.
“Being a part of the afterschool program has helped him overcome his fears,” she reported. “He is thriving in school and by the end of the school year, he made several friends and is now very outgoing.”
In fact, Juan now acts as a mentor and role model for his peers and looks forward to coming to the LAMP program after school every day.
And Mary tells us his biggest “concern” today with the school year coming to a close is if LAMP is going to have a summer program he can attend.
“Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® for making a big difference in the life of this bright, confident young man, and the lives of so many other young men and women.”
In the summer of 2017, hundreds of hungry children in rural Appalachian Tennessee waiting anxiously each weekday to hear their favorite sound. And no, it wasn’t the ring of the bell of an ice cream truck loaded with sweet treats for sale on a hot summer’s day.
In fact, the sound they were listening for was the sound of the big diesel engine of a school bus, not coming to take them to school, but instead bringing them a filling, nutritious meal, which sadly for many would be their only substantial meal of the day.
Our partner Of One Accord, serves lunch to hundreds of children living in impoverished Hawkins County, among the poorest in the state, and through its “Lunch Box” bus summer feeding program, a total of 12,464 meals were served in 2017.
The Lunch Box bus program is unique! A former “retired” school bus is converted into a mobile cafeteria where children get on the bus and eat their lunch with their siblings and friends, just as they do on a school day. The seats are turned facing each other with a cafeteria table in between allowing seating for 15 or more children to all eat at one time.
In 2006, Of One Accord was the first ministry in the U.S. to put the concept of bringing lunch to children in rural areas where offering a summer meals program at a centralized location is not practical or feasible, according to Executive Director Rev. Sheldon Livesay.
The four Lunch Box buses will serve an average of 320 children daily, with each bus making a total of 32 regular stops each day. This summer it is projected to serve 14,500 meals, from June 4 to July 27.
“The key for success is having to be consistent and to be at each location at exactly the same time each day for children to be able to depend on the bus coming,” he explained.
The need was great for such a program in the area. Hawkins County was among the last counties in the state that did not have a summer feeding program in place for school-age children, according to Rev. Livesay.
He told us that when the school system attempted to offer a summer lunch program, it didn’t work because the vast majority of children did not live within walking distance of the school; in the rural communities it was too far and too costly for parents to drive them to get a free lunch.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program funds the cost of the food, and we help to cover the cost of program expenses needed to run the operation. “Through the amazing help of Americans Helping Americans®, we were not only able to place two more buses on the road, but they are being sustained as a program through the support of Americans Helping Americans® raising the number of children served from 8,500 to 14,500,” Rev. Livesay said.
However, he added, “The sad note is we have children who board the bus who attest this is the first meal they have had since the day before, and we have even heard on a Monday, this was a child’s first meal since the Friday before.”
Leslie joined the L.A.M.P program because she was failing school.
“Nobody cared, so why should I” she questioned.
But at L.A.M.P she did find people who cared- plenty of them.
With that realization, her life would change forever.
I have a mentor who helps me and expects to do good,” she says.
“She explains stuff – school stuff, but life stuff too.”
“I never knew I was worth anything before,” she adds.
Without strong positive intervention, a girl like Leslie has more than a 70 percent chance of dropping out of school and being a homeless unwed mother who spends time in jail or prison.
Your help is changing Leslie’s life and through her friends and siblings.
And Leslie can attest to that.