CHAPTER 1: NEW PATHWAYS FOR CHILDREN
MADE POSSIBLE BY INDEPENDENCE BANK
On a sunny summer day, there is much hustle and bustle in the house. The kids are preparing for a fun day out—a trip to see a movie and then to the park to play. The adults are helping the little ones pick out appropriate outfits to wear, combing hair, brushing teeth, and tying shoelaces.
When they return, tired and excited from the day’s activities, there is washing up for supper together, music lessons afterward for some and practicing sports for others.
It functions as much like a traditional family unit as possible: adults working tirelessly to show love to children, to mold and shape a next generation, to let kids be kids.
The home is New Pathways for Children, a faith-based residential group home in Melber, Ky. that serves children who need care, for however long that may be, essentially filling voids in children’s lives that can last as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years.
Placed in the care voluntarily by parents or guardians, children at New Pathways are often escaping some sort of trauma in their lives, either experienced directly or indirectly, and it’s why the administrators, caregivers and counselors have a tough first job to tackle with each child admitted into their care.
“Research shows that any child who has experienced trauma needs to feel safe within their home before they can heal and grow,” says Kristin Henson, Marketing Assistant for New Pathways for Children.
“Our first goal is felt-safety. We want them to know that they are safe and they are going to be taken care of.”
“Once they have felt-safety, we put them on a structured schedule.”
“Most children operate better with a schedule, but it’s imperative for children who have faced trauma to stick to a consistent routine. For example, our children know to expect dinner at 5:00 every night,” Henson says.
With full-time caregivers, tutors and counselors, the New Pathways program is designed to fill every need for their children.
“The most important thing that we want to do for children is to meet all their needs, make sure that there’s not anything they need that’s not taken care of,” Executive Director Ricky Burse begins.
“We want to make sure they have food, clothing, a bed to sleep in in their own room.”
“Beyond that, we try to meet their emotional needs so they know they are valued and they are important, that they are loved.”
“We want to help them develop socially, so we are constantly working with them to understand the right way to do things and help them learn manners and gratitude.”
“And most importantly want to give them an opportunity for a spiritual component in their lives.”
“I think doing all of those things gives them a sense of security, they know they are safe. It also gives them a sense of worth. They understand that they are valuable and they begin to learn that not only do we love them, but more importantly they are loved by God and valued by Him—that they are special and He has a plan and a purpose for their life and that we want to help them come to understand and know what that is.”
“They begin to have a different kind of hope because of these things.”
For two houses with a combined 18 children, simply meeting the basic needs of each child is a full-time job, but that is not all that the children at New Pathways get. Instead, they receive the attention they need to succeed, whether that is in the form of a tutor to bring their education in line with that of their peers, a chance to be part of a team sport, an opportunity to learn to play an instrument, or all of those at once.
“We want the kids to know their preciousness and to know that they are celebrated. We want them to have opportunities to be involved in all of the different activities that kids from safe homes are involved in,” Kristin says.
“Our kids are involved in sports, they get birthday parties and music lessons and horse-therapy lessons.”
For the 25 caregivers and administrators at New Pathways for Children, the wins stack up daily. Recently, a child expressed an interest in learning to play the ukulele. A simple request on Facebook yielded the funds needed for those lessons. A win.
A request for a donor to sponsor a baseball team landed one child a part in his first ever team-sport. A win.
During the 2017-2018 school year–four wins.
“This last year, we had four different children at Lowes Elementary awarded Students of the Month,” Kristin boasts.
“To have four children chosen as Student of the Month this past school year was a huge success for us and for our children.”
“It is very encouraging to see that our kids are healing and growing.”
“We can look back and see where these kids were even just a couple of months ago and see how the tutoring has paid off and the counseling has paid off and the kids are just getting to be kids.”
A true win, indeed.
New Pathways for Children Needs You
Existing with no government funding, New Pathways for Children is able to provide a safe and loving home for these 18 children, and more like them every year, only because of generous donations from churches, local businesses, charitable organizations and individuals.
“We do have some significant donations, but a whole lot of them are $25, $50, or $100 a month, and all of those added together provide the resources that we need,” says Ricky Burse, Executive Director.
“Our ability to serve children is directly proportional to the amount of resources we get, so the more resources-the more children we can serve.”
In addition to donations of funds, New Pathways for Children benefits greatly from donations of time, either volunteers who work directly with children or through donations to keep their homes running smoothly.
Those who are interested in donating either time or money to New Pathways for Children can learn more about the organization at www.npfc.net or on Facebook or Instagram.
For additional information, email Kristin Henson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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