Disturbing Hunger Trends Haunt County

I was recently saddened to learn that the number of Henderson county students who qualify for the schools’ free and reduced meals program grew from 55% in the 2013-2014 school year to 59% in the current, 2014-2015, school year! This equates to 7,965 children! Good nutrition is essential to a child’s proper physical growth, health and development. Children who experience chronic, unsatisfied hunger will not get the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to reach developmental milestones. The result is, children who are malnourished and vulnerable to childhood diseases and often have low immunity and poor overall health. Lack of proper nutrition and adequate food can also lead to the development of mental health problems, academic achievement and future economic productivity for a child. One in four children in Henderson County is living in poverty. Poverty guidelines vary by household size, but in 2013, families with three people lived in poverty if their income was $19,530 or below. Families in poverty struggle to cover basic needs including food. Perhaps, in recent years, you’ve heard terms like “food insecurity.” When a family or person is “food insecure,” the availability and quality of food to which they have access is not adequate for an active, healthy life. National data shows that in 2012, more than one in seven US households (18 million) experienced food insecurity at some time during the year. All these households experienced limited or uncertain access to adequate food, including reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. About 7 million of these households had members who went hungry or skipped meals, an indication of very low food security. In...

Contradictions for Kids

I learned the definition of the word contradictory when I was the wise age of “9 going on 10.”  At that time, my family lived in Beaufort, NC.   I was in the fourth grade and once a week I would go to work with my dad after school before we would walk down the street to my piano lesson.  Do you remember when you got to go to work with your parents?  How all those “older” people would make a big fuss over you.  One day, I was at his office and one of the ladies that worked with him had a niece who was in my class.  I was working on a project she heard about and she said something about the assignment that wasn’t true.  I can’t remember what she said, maybe it was the due date or some part of the work she had heard her niece talk about, but I corrected her.  She responded back in disagreement and in my full pre-adolescent mouthy little know-it-all fashion, I argued back.  I must have been indignant (I mean seriously, how would my friend’s aunt possibly know more about our project than I did?) and rude. It came time to walk to my piano class and my father didn’t waste the opportunity to correct me.  I remember him saying that when I spoke to adults, he wanted me to do so without being contradictory.  He had to define the word for me.  I was surprised to know that’s how I sounded.  In my mind, I was stating facts and was unaware of my ‘delivery.’ Life is full of...

Dreams for Her Children

At age 16, Pam became pregnant and during her senior year of high school joined the Children & Family Resource Center’s Adolescent Parenting Program.  The guidance she received from her program coordinator and the support from the other young mother’s in the program helped her look beyond her obstacles and begin to dream about her future with her little girl, Iyana. In 2004, Pam Peak graduated from Hendersonville High School with a 3.7 GPA and received recognition as a NC Academic Scholar. That same year, Pam was also awarded the NC APP Graduation Conference Valedictorian Award for having the highest GPA out of 108 teens enrolled in Adolescent Parenting Programs throughout the state of NC. She had big dreams for her future. After graduation, Pam pursued and received a certificate in Accounting from Blue Ridge Community College.  Today, she owns her own home and has a career that she loves.  Over the years, Pam has continued her education and will be graduating this May with her Associates Degree in Business Administration!  Iyana has thrived in school and is now in the 6th grade!  She is also big sister to Lilyana- a role she takes very seriously. “Having a baby when I was fifteen didn’t mean I had to give up my dreams,” says Pam.  “It meant I had to work harder to achieve them.” Pam’s drive and dreams for her future combined with the support she received in the Adolescent Parenting Program have given her the skills to be successful and provide a loving and nurturing environment for her...

Child Care Costs Surpass College

By Elisha Freeman, Executive Director The average cost of child care here in North Carolina is $9,135 per year for infant care and $7,774 for a 4-year-old. This is more than the tuition at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, where tuition alone equals $6,392 per year, or Western Carolina University, where tuition alone equals $8,135 per year. It’s shocking, isn’t it? Yes, there are other fees related to college that drive the price higher, but we don’t often stop and think that, at a base level, child care is more expensive. Child care is a major expense in family budgets. Parents are rarely prepared for the cost, which hits at a time in life when they are likely at their lowest earning potential. Research shows that the cost of child care is, on average, at least 10 percent of a dual-income family’s budget and 34 percent of a single parent’s budget. I took a little poll around my office to see what two real-life scenarios looked like. One employee is married and both she and her husband work. They are young professionals with master’s degrees. Child care for their child takes 12 percent of their annual budget. They feel the pinch, but they have things under control. Another employee is a single mother, also a young professional with her master’s degree. Child care for her son takes 40 percent of her annual budget! This leaves very little to manage for housing, food, medical expenses, clothing, automobile or other basic living expenses. Like many parents in our community, she receives a child care social service subsidy to help her pay...
Impact a  Young Life This Year

Impact a Young Life This Year

  My daughter turned 16 this week, and I’m thinking about what I might say to you while sitting here covered in glitter.  I’m spray painting wooden letters and numbers that spell out “Sweet 16” to use as decorations.  While I am thinking about my daughter, I can’t quit reflecting on the life of another little girl I am reading about who grew up in Waynesville during the 1940’s and 1950’s.   Her life is what I described to my friend as ‘wretched.’ She survived a life of extreme poverty and abuse, and throughout the book she mentions the constant hunger her family felt.  She and her siblings were poorly clothed, and went to school with no shoes even in snow and ice.  They lived in one shack after another and on a daily basis; she battled famine, filth, bullying, addiction and abuse of every kind.  I read her story and can only try to imagine what it is to be that poor and live this type of life. I’ve heard adults say, “we were poor, but we didn’t know it,” usually in admiration for parents who sheltered them from those realities and worked hard to provide the basics.  This child knew she was poor, and though her father was an incredibly hard worker, his money was used to fuel his moonshine business and his addiction, rather than feed and clothe his children.  Neither of her parents was nurturing.  There were no hugs or expressions of love among family members.  We know that lack of nurturing is detrimental to a child’s growing brain. I know there are children in our...

Children and Family Resource Center surpasses goal with Harvest Dinner with the Stars

Holding her husband’s hand in hers, Jamie Dodson, 33, addressed a room of more than 200 people at the Children and Family Resource Center’s annual Harvest Dinner with the Stars Saturday night at Kenmure Country Club. The mother of two said she was thankful for the opportunity to give back to the center by sharing her story of how it changed her life and her family through the Incredible Years Programs. Executive Director Elisha Freeman was wondering Saturday morning if Dodson would be able to share her story with community supporters at the center’s biggest fundraising event of the year. As Freeman looked out at the Nov. 1 snowfall, she feared the center would have to cancel or postpone the event. Read more at...