After being kicked out of high school because of his behavior and anger issues, Gary is now back in school and his grades are even improving.
And his mom says he is helping around the house with the chores without even having to be asked – something difficult, if not practically impossible, to get a teenager to do.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we are able to provide grant funding to our partner in Gainesville, Georgia, L.A.M.P. Ministries. Now, Gary’s life trajectory has taken a major turn for the better.
L.A.M.P. works with troubled youth before they find themselves in serious trouble at school or with the law.
To help him take out some of his anger issues in a positive way, L.A.M.P. enrolled him in a gym where he has taken up boxing.
“He loves to box,” said L.A.M.P. executive director Mary Mauricio. “He says it has really helped him to stay out of trouble.
“His mom is so grateful to L.A.M.P. for our interest in her son,” she added. “All thanks to Americans Helping Americans® for making it possible.”
Donna came to the Samaritan House pregnant after going from place to place after she and her boyfriend were evicted from their apartment for financial difficulties. At the same time, her ex-husband was trying to get sole custody of their 4-year-old child.
“Clearly, Donna had made several very poor decisions,” reported Jean-Ann Washam, executive director of Appalachian Outreach, Americans Helping Americans® partner in Jefferson City, Tennessee, which operates the Samaritan House for homeless women and children.
But thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® and the dedicated staff at Samaritan House, Donna was able to put together a set of goals to help her get on a better path.
In addition to making and keeping appointments with her doctor , she had to look for work, which, with her doctor’s approval, she was able to do. She found a job at a nearby gas station that had had a “help wanted” sign in the window.
With funding from Americans Helping Americans® for Appalachian Outreach’s job readiness program, Donna was able to purchase a few shirts with collars and a pair of skid-proof shoes which were conditions of her employment.
A short time later, an even better job offer came through at a local factory which paid much more. Donna and her boyfriend, who had been living with his parents, found a mobile home they would be able to rent shortly before the birth of their baby girl.
“Our hope is that Donna will resolve the many issues she has had and will make changes as needed,” said Jean-Ann. “Thank you Americans Helping Americans® for allowing us to have the funding to help women like Donna get back on their feet and have a fresh start.”
Tanya, who has learning disabilities, grew up being regarded as “stupid and useless.” However, that did not deter this determined young woman from becoming self-sufficient.
Today, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, our partner in Cleveland, Georgia, Caring Hands Ministries, was able to start its Farm and Home Program. The program matches farmers with affordable helpers. In return, the farmers not only pay their wages; they provide them with a place to live on the farm.
“Tanya is now part of our Farm and Home Program and for the first time sees herself as valuable,” says Caring Hands executive director Ann Fleming.
“The farm owner is pleased with her work and says she will have a job and a home as long as the farm continues.
“She has a lot to learn, but she is learning – and also learning to let her family know that she is not ‘useless.’”
Caring Hands’ Farm and Home Program is a win-win, not only for people like Tanya, but also for struggling farmers.
“One farm owner says the program is helping save her family farm,” Ann told us.
We know there are hundreds of thousands of kids in Appalachia who are bright and eager to learn. But too often they become discouraged by parents, many who are high school dropouts themselves and never earned a GED, who don’t encourage them to work hard and succeed in the classroom.They don’t take the time to read to their children at a young age, and never help them with their homework even if they could. And they don’t commend their children for bringing home good grades…and don’t admonish them to try harder when they bring home D’s and F’s on their report card.In the classroom, with as many as 30 or more other classmates, no matter how dedicated their teacher is, it’s impossible for students who are struggling to get the individualized attention they need to understand what’s in their textbooks and on the chalkboard.That’s where we come in.
Working with our partners who offer afterschool programs, such as Big Creek People in Action in McDowell County, West Virginia, the lives of many children are transformed where they receive the one-on-one tutoring they need to help them keep up with their classmates.On elementary school girl, Brittany, told us how she was doing well in all her classes, except math – and how to divide fractions (something that likely challenges many adults as well).However, when she informed her tutor at BCPIA it was a concept she just couldn’t comprehend, she received the individualized attention she needed and within a couple of hours she had mastered it and was solving problems with ease.
“Now I fly right through it,” Brittany told us.
Who knows what would’ve happened if she had fallen behind in school, and then in class after class, grade after grade, year after year she continued to fall further and further behind until she simply gave up, becoming a teenage high school dropout with no hope for anything better than a minimum wage job at best in her future.But thanks to our supporters, Brittany, who is now in high school, and many others just like her received the encouragement they need to not give up and drop out and are told “Good job!” when they proudly show off their report cards with all A’s.We had the opportunity to meet Brittany a few years ago during a visit to BCPIA who told us about her 11-hour days – leaving home at 8 a.m. to catch the school bus, in class until around 4 p.m. when she would go to the BCPIA afterschool program and not getting home until about 7 p.m., making for a very long day for her and many others just like her.“Yeah, but it’s amazing,” she commented.
She also told us how much she enjoys the afterschool program at BCPIA where she and her classmates not only receive tutoring, snacks and a hot meal and even have fun doing their homework together.
This past fall we were thrilled to hear from BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson how well Brittany and her younger brother David are doing. Marsha was hosting a baby shower for Mary, one of the women who works in the afterschool program, “when I overheard a comment that went straight to my heart.” Mary had invited Brittany to come to the baby shower, and as she was handing the presents to her a lady made a comment to Brittany about how helpful she was.“Brittany thanked them and went on to say how much she loved Mary AND Big Creek People in Action,” Marsha said. “She said both her and her brother loved it here and all of the people here.“The lady asked her why she loved it so much and Brittany became very quiet for a moment (very unusual occurrence – ha!) and finally answered and said, ‘I would have to say because we were always made to feel very welcome here.’”
Marsha said she thought about Brittany’s answer that night and it made her heart warm.“How wonderful that we do that and how wonderful that those children feel that way,” she said. “I cannot think of a better thing we could do for those children.
“Feeding them is fantastic, listening to them is fantastic, helping them with their homework is fantastic – but making them feel welcome while doing those things is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!!!!“The feeling of WELCOME encompasses so many things: you feel safe, you feel comfortable, you feel liked and most of all – you feel wanted,” Marsha added. “I hope we make every single one of those young’uns feel that way because they are super special to us.”
These children are also “super special” to us as well and thanks to our supporters we are proud to be a partner instilling a love of education to all the young children who are fortunate enough to be able to attend BCPIA’s afterschool program yearning to learn and succeed in school, and in life.