Our partner in Beattyville, Kentucky, Cumberland Mountain Outreach (CMO) each summer (with the exception of this one) hosts a summer camp for elementary and middle school-age children.

After spending many years at the camp, CMO executive director Cindy Evanoff selects the most promising youth to join its Teens In Leadership Program (TILP) where they serve as counselors and mentors to the young campers and provide community service projects in the local area.

CMO, says Cindy, “assists in feeding the hungry, clothing the less fortunate, offering part-time jobs, assisting with home repairs for those who cannot afford it, and hosting the kids’ camps.”

Now she is on a new mission, one she could have never imagined at the beginning of the year.

“Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we are opening an online classroom setting for four or five families, no more than eight children, who cannot, or will not send their children to public school, but do not have the financial resources or educational skills to teach them at home,” she told us.

So Cindy turned to Americans Helping Americans® with a request for $5,000 to provide students with a safe, clean learning station with broadband internet (something many in the community lack at home) for each child, hire a part-time retired school teacher and a room monitor, purchase a ultraviolet air purification system, as well as provide the children with breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day.

Cindy said the goal of the learning pod is to address the individual needs of children with emotional or physical issues who will not or cannot attend public school because of COVID-19.

Cindy knows the need for such a facility is real as when schools there closed in the spring and online classes were offered it was a struggle for some to participate in their own education at their homes.

She explained that the program will be designed for low-income families and children of special needs or low-immune systems who will arrive there at 9 a.m. where they will have their temperature taken and recorded.

“If the program were not funded, some of the youth would try at-home schooling and fail this school year as they did last year,” says Cindy. Some would try to go to school with high anxiety and fear of getting sick because of their low immune system response.”

And the overarching goal “is to prevent eight at-risk children from coming down with the coronavirus as they learn and interact until this pandemic is over.”