The best communities have a lot of people who get involved, according to Rick Hulefeld, founder and executive director of Children, Inc.
Children, Inc., a Northern Kentucky based nonprofit, aims to ensure that young people are successful both in school and in life. And a primary way in which the organization succeeds in doing that is by developing partnerships with schools and other community-based nonprofits in order to maximize resources to help as many as possible.
Its most recent partnership is with Cincinnati’s VISIONS Community Services
, which sought out Children, Inc., as a partner for a merge. With the merger comes a new division of Children, Inc., which will now operate in both Kentucky and Ohio.
As a result of the merger, Children Inc. will continue its programs, which include everything from before- and after-school care
to service learning
initiatives in schools, while building its programming by incorporating VISIONS’ multi-generational approach.
“They had something unique,” Hulefeld says. “They had a certified family counselor on staff who would meet on a regular basis to help—that’s a model that needs to be carefully expanded and taken to the next level. But we want to do something VISIONS has already been doing, and then bring a lot more resources to it.”
One way of doing that, Hulefeld says, is to partner with other organizations that have similar goals.
“There are organizations who really want to help families to become self-sufficient,” Hulefeld says. “Sometimes, little things get in the way of big dreams.”
If organizations could partner to provide families with funds for bus fare to get to job training, and if they could also enroll their children in the center, Hulefeld says the children would ultimately do better in school “because they won’t always be at the mercy of the next financial crisis.”
“We can’t live in communities where just a few people do everything,” he says. And it’s this motto that makes its way into the service learning initiatives that Children Inc. sets up in local schools so that students can learn by doing, while also giving back and making a difference during the process.
Recently, the organization set up a project for a group of first grade students who were learning about the effects of the sun.
“If you get too much of it, it’s bad,” Hulefeld says, so Children’s Inc. provided the school with funds to purchase bracelets that would change color based on how much sunlight the wearer was getting. The students then sold the bracelets and made $843, which they gave to Shriners Hospital for Children
to help provide funds for burn victims.
“What you really want to teach kids is that you can make a difference—and not some day—you can make it now,” Hulefeld says. “We all know that we cannot by ourselves do what the community needs us to do. None of us can do this by ourselves, but we can get together with other people and figure out, ‘How do we do what we’re doing better?’”
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By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.