Back to School
Here’s a milestone no one is celebrating. According to the U.S. Department of Education there are now over 1.1 million homeless children enrolled in public schools in this country, and that number is on the rise.
Inner City Mission is among those working to turn this around. We provide a safe and stable environment for children and their families, allowing the kids to focus on schooling and their parents to focus on finding stability. We make education a priority at ICM, believing it essential to the rewarding life God wants us all to enjoy.
Here at our Springfield shelter, school enrollment is underway for our 16 kids, and donations of school supplies are coming in, praise God. While we prepare for that big first day, we want to tell you about one successful student on her way to college, and discuss some of the ways you, working through Inner City Mission, brighten the educational experiences of homeless children in Sangamon County.
It was a joy for Kourtney’s mother to be able to arrange a week long Christian camp experience for her daughter last October. Kourtney was a senior, and doing great in school. For Kourtney the camp was a wonderful experience; a chance to share faith and dreams and anxieties alike with 40 young ladies like herself.
Kourtney had more anxiety than many of the girls. Not only was she preparing for college, she was doing so without a real home. Since their house was foreclosed on, she and her mother had bounced from place to place without any certainty.
It was a relief for Kourtney to come home and find her mother had taken a room at Inner City Mission. “The day I was picked up from camp, I learned we were going to ICM,” Kourtney says. “I was relieved because we had been staying with friends, and I never knew where I was supposed to go after school.
“ICM seemed crazy at first; different from a normal household, but once I got the feel of the house, it became like home.
“Just having a safe place to stay has done a lot to reduce my stress levels while I’m getting ready for college. ICM helped with finan
cial advice. They set me up with school supplies so I didn’t have to worry about that.”
Kourtney leave’s soon for Murray State University in Kentucky. She is enrolled in pre-veterinary studies. “I like science and medicine and animals, so I thought animal doctor would be a good choice for me.
“I’m pretty excited to be out on my own, meeting new people. I’ll come home on big breaks, but that’s it.”
Kourtney’s mother is ready to let go of her girl. “It’s bittersweet,” she says. “I’m going to miss her and miss our daily talks, but this is a great opportunity for her.
“Being at Inner City Mission has helped us both keep focused on what she needed. I was afraid her grades would slip while we were struggling, but they didn’t.”
Director of Children’s Programming Tara Southard plays a strong role in allowing resident children to have a positive experience at school. She assists parents in getting children registered for school, makes sure transportation is in order (often three or more school busses have stops at ICM). She sees to it students have what they need for that first day of school, and after getting the parents’ written permission, she tracks performance and behavior in school to be alert to potential problems.
“I work with (District #186 Homeless Children and Youth Liaison) Darla Haley. I contact her when we get a new family, make sure busses are coming, find out what uniforms and supplies are needed. I also work with the home office on getting data. As long as have parent releases, I can get grade reports.
“If a student has trouble I’ll talk to the parents. I don’t help with homework—there’s no time for that! But I make sure parents are informed, look into whether they can get extra help at school. I’ll talk to the kids, find out what they need to get caught up.
“One of my goals is to get all our kids into mentoring situations. Shelter Supervisor Jacob Payne and a friend of his have volunteered to do that with a couple boys this year. I’m excited to see what comes out of that.
“Usually, our kids do well in structured activities but there is a real benefit to one-on-one attention. Some are coming out of difficult situations. They are under a lot of pressure, and an adult outside the family they can talk to is helpful.”
ICM doesn’t provide daycare services. Our residents maintain responsibility for their children throughout their stay. While we provide every resource available, we will never match the impact their parents have in their lives. One way we indirectly help children succeed in school is to work with their parents.
It is common for residents to come to ICM lacking in parenting skills. Director of Adult Education Brenda Hamilton gets involved. “We offer parenting-specific classes to our residents,” Brenda says. “If we see someone struggling in that area, they will meet with me one-on-one, following what we call the parenting track. Some of the resources we use are a study called ‘Single Parenting That Works’ by Dr. Kevin Leman, and a parenting class put together by Focus on the Family.”
- All of us here want to praise God for the time we had to know Grace Skeif, who accompanied her parents here on many mission trips over the years. Grace went home to the Lord recently after a battle with cancer. Her parents have shown awesome courage and trust in the Lord through this trying time. Please join us in prayer for this grieving family.
- Please pray for Kourtney as she leaves us for college, and all children headed off to school. Some of them may not have addresses, but God is with them all.
- Resident Kristi and her family are moving out. Kristy was baptized during her stay here, and they have become part of the ICM family. We pray the best off success to them, moving forward.
- We want to lift up in prayer a young resident couple facing a difficult family decision. Lord, fill them with your wisdom, bless the road they follow, and give them peace.
- ReNew Consignment & Thrift Store in Lincoln, Illinois, will be open, God willing, in time for September’s E-News. We praise God for this and ask you to be in prayer that this new ministry center flourishes and transforms lives in Logan County.
Here are some donations we know will come in handy:
- Coffee, Creamer, Sugar
- Canned meats (tuna, chicken, etc.)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Dish soap and Liquid hand soap
- Diapers sizes 3-6
ICM gratefully accepts donated items any time at our North 7th Street shelter.