Education and Enrichment Programs
When Caring for Children grew to become a year-round charity (10+ years ago), Caring for Children developed a new channel for supporting the children...through education and enrichment programs. These year-round Caring for Children sponsored programs seek to promote a healthy balance of living and learning experiences through enrichment or educational activities (i.e., after school programs, summer camps, tutoring, developmental programming, etc.). For instance, Caring for Children has sponsored children to take part in Outward Bound, supported tutoring, dance, and music lessons. Caring for Children has also helped children rebuild their lives after unexpected tragedies like fire, theft, organ transplants, and sudden death of a parent.
The following are excerpts from applications to our enrichment program.
Story 1 – 4 Year Old Boy with Rare Fatal Disease
Background: Carter Brischler is a curious, sweet, and very funny Pre-kindergarten student. He and his family (Mom, Dad, and older brother) live in Upstate, NY. In December 2015, Carter was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystropohy (ALD). ALD is a rare, genetic, and degenerative disease that is characterized by normal development in early childhood, followed by rapid degeneration as the disease destroys the brain and the nervous system. There is no cure.
Additional Information: Carter’s symptoms will grow worse, leading to complete vision impairment and hearing impairment. He will then develop seizures and will ultimately need a wheelchair due to loss of muscle control. Unfortunately, this disease eventually leads to death, usually 2 to 5 years from diagnosis. As an added stressor, a few weeks after the diagnosis, George was laid off from his job and the family is struggling financially.
Caring for Children Takes Action: Based on the circumstances of this child and family, the Frank and Rosemary Iovieno Caring for Children Foundation purchased $500 worth of gift cards ($250 Target and $250 in Stop and Shop cards) for this family to assist them in this challenging time.
Story 2 – High School Senior – Wants to be Part of Senior Week
Background: Valenney is a High School Senior living with a life-threatening chronic illness. In order to partake in Graduation, the Prom and Senior Week activities Valenney needed $200 which her family couldn’t afford. Therefore, Valenney was going to forgo attending her own graduation and other Senior week activities because she couldn’t afford it.
Additional Information: Valenney’s mother, who is also suffering from the life-threatening chronic illness, has only recently started working and still struggles to make ends meet. Often times the family does not have enough food in the house. Helping Valenney to be able to attend these events will help her feel like the other kids in her class and not isolated like she often feels.
Caring for Children Takes Action: There was no question that Caring for Children was going to help Valenney out, as we sent the $200 to her school so that she could participate with her fellow students in all the Senior Week activities.
Story 3 – Single Mom with HIV/AIDS Moving to New Apartment with Children
Background: Single young mother, Saida, challenged with HIV/AIDS has two young children 8 and 6 who are being monitored for the same illness as their Mom, are moving into a new apartment and are struggling financially. Additional Information: Saida, because of her illness and child responsibilities can only work a job that provides her with a low income that only meets regular monthly expenses. Therefore, there are a lot of basic needs in moving (i.e., a bed with bedding, cleaning supplies, food, etc.) that she is struggling to finance.
Caring for Children Takes Action: Caring for Children quickly reacted to this application by sending $250 in Target gift cards so that Saida could have the flexibility to use the gift card to help her family in the best way possible (i.e., household items or food, etc.).
Story 4 – 9 Year Old Berkshire Girl Struggles with Alopecia Areata
Background: A 9 year old living in Berkshire County has a condition called alopecia areta which causes her hair follicles to become weakened and contend with significant hair loss. Therefore, this brave young lady has decided to shave her head and be bald and beautiful. However, as anyone can imagine, being 9 years old is tough enough, without standing out because of a condition that has led her to decide on being bald and wearing a wig most of the time.
Additional Information: This young lady’s parents have done a lot of research to find out how they can help their daughter get past this condition quickly. A lot of research points to a very strict diet of natural and organic foods that have created a major additional expense for the family.
Caring for Children Takes Action: Caring for Children was so impressed by this girls positive attitude and bravery dealing with her condition, so we provided this family with $200 in gift cards to a local specialty grocery store (Guido’s) to help in purchasing the foods in her special diet. And, of course a $30 gift card to a local movie theater so that she could enjoy a movie with her parents.
What are your favorite activities?
Ever since I stepped foot on the property of my first foster home, I knew exactly where my heart belonged. That was the moment I knew that I would have a gentle giant by my side for the rest of my life. I had been through a lot as a little girl going on 6 years old, and it felt so nice to have a creature that would just look at you through those big and kind eyes that would never judge you by your past or take away your future. It was that moment that my heart was taken by the most stunning of all animals, the horse.
And ever since that day, that's all I do. I talk, breathe, eat, and sleep horses. Every day, all day, I am always looking forward to going to the barn and just feeling so "at home." I love to bond with them and feel so connected to something. I have always been one to latch on to something or someone and never let go. Riding has really helped me take control of my life by being able to hold on to it and still be able to balance it with school, family, and friends.
I am mostly a normal 16 year old girl. I love to hang out with my friends and talk about boys and bad teachers. I get good grades in school and I'm an extremely hard worker. I love to hang out with my mom (who adopted me when I was 11 years old) and just talk to her about things that are going on with my life. I mostly just love being a kid. But what I look forward to each day is the smell of hay and leather and the power of the 1,000 pound animal underneath me. That is what I really enjoy. That is where I am me.
What do you hope to learn or gain if your application is accepted?
I am a dreamer. I love to think of the endless possibilities waiting for me. I want to ride in the Eventing Olympics at some time in my life. That's my biggest goal. But that won't happen if I can't pay for my dream. I ride a lot and I am so honored to have a mom who stands by my passion even when we are struggling a little. She is willing to make sacrifices so that I can get the most out of my riding. I would really hope to take a lesson or two with an Olympic Equestrian such as David O'Connor or Phillip Dutton. Getting taught by a rider of such a high caliber would be amazing for me because I respect their hard work and know that if I want to get to the top, I'm going to have to work my little hands off to get there. If my application is accepted, it would confirm my belief that anything is possible when I work hard. To receive a gift such as this tells me that people recognize that hard work. It would take a little bit of a burden off my mother's back because she knows that the girls that I compete against at shows are getting top of the line equipment and lessons with Olympians multiple times, but she also knows that I appreciate everything she does for me and would never ask anything more of her. It would not only make a difference for me, it would make a difference for my mom.
What made you choose to make this particular request?
I chose this particular request because it is exactly what I need right now. I'm a 16 year old horse crazy girl with big dreams. I don't need a big TV or a car or anything else. I just NEED to ride. This is what makes sense right now: to ask for a little bit of help in trying to further my riding career. This is a passion that will never fade. I grew up trusting horses and I don't think I will ever be able to tear myself away from something that I love this much. I will never give this up. And if I were going to ask for anything in the world, it would be to have a little more money to do something extremely special, and in my case it's riding with a top notch rider and having the best time of my life. Riding IS my life.
Briefly describe the nature of the request:
The Center would like to take the eight teens in our teen program to New York City. While in NYC we plan to see the musical RENT, tour Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. The program would like to offer this opportunity to the children to commend then on the hard work they have done this past school year. The trip is also to celebrate the teens continued adherence to their HIV/AIDS medicine regime.
Financial Amount of request:
The estimated cost of the trip is $1800 for the weekend. We are asking for a donation of $500 to help cover the cost of the activities.
This page is to be filled out by the applicant (an adult may assist them if necessary.)
1. What are your favorite activities?
I sat down with the group to get the answers for questions 1 to 3. All of the children expressed that they enjoy traveling to new places and meeting new people. Very few have done so but they all voiced that they would like to travel more often. When asked why, one young man said "Its nice to see how other people live".
One of the services the program provides is music therapy. Five of the teens have formed a group they call "The Band". The children write their own lyrics, sing and play all of the instruments. The Band members state that the really enjoy working on producing their music. One young man commented, "It's great to finally listen to music that I've actually made".
Some other favorite activities of the children are, swimming, playing football, roller-skating, playing basketball and spending time with friends.
2. What do you hope to learn or gain if your application is accepted?
Boy age 16: "I hope to gain a better understanding of what it was like for immigrants to land on Ellis Island. Being a Haitian American I am very interested in learning about how American society began".
Boy age 15 - "I've seen the movie RENT about a million times. I know all the songs and I would love to see the musical especially on Broadway".
Boy age 16 -"I want to experience a new place".
Girl age 16 - "I hope to learn more about the Statue of Liberty"
3. What made you choose to make this particular request?
Boy from Dorchester age 16 - "I want to go to New York because it's some place that's not here".
Boy age 13 - "We chose this request because New York is the closest Metropolitan city to Boston."
Boy age 16 - "We chose New York for it rich cultural history and because I've always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty".