Only a few weeks into his first year of school, and already Tommy had a reputation. His unruly behavior had cleared the classroom, more than once. His teacher was at a loss. His mom was worried. School leaders had already given up on the Kindergartener.
But then hope... a gift named Rhonda.
When Rhonda, Tommy's KIDS HOPE mentor, went to meet him for the first time, school staff hesitated: "Are you sure you're ready for this?" Rhonda was. She met Tommy's wide eyes with a smile, and began pouring herself into the little boy's life. Together they played, learned and listened. They created an incentive chart, helping Tommy and his teacher begin to recognize the good in the five year old.
Soon, the angry outbursts stopped. Tommy's behavior changed so drastically, it changed the minds of those around him. Where they once saw only a disciplinary problem, they now saw a delightful boy with a brilliant mind, a soft heart and a bright future.
Tommy, once on a fast track to an alternative school is now thriving in his traditional classroom. Once labeled as "trouble" is now valued as a child... all because he found hope in someone who believed in him.
Zeke didn't say much. His feelings were a bit of a mystery. For a year, Fred met with him week after week, one hour at a time. It didn't take the KHUSA mentor long to see the promise that was within Zeke; however, Zeke kept up his guard, not letting Fred get too close.
When he moved up to second grade, Fred continued to show up every week. And gradually, Zeke began to talk a little more. His smile came a little more easily. It seemed the walls around his heart were starting to come down...slowly.
Then one winter day, when they were scheduled to meet, a big snowstorm hit. Fred was snowed in, his car hopelessly stuck in his driveway. He couldn't even get to work. But school wasn't cancelled, and he knew Zeke would be waiting for him. So that afternoon, he started to walk the distance. Entering the building, he could hear a child sobbing loudly. As he rounded the corner, he saw that it was Zeke. Convinced the snow had kept Fred away, Zeke was openly devastated.
But Fred was there. And at that moment, all the walls around Zeke's little heart came tumbling down.
In his 7 years, Zeke had many people come and go from his life. But on that one chilly afternoon, Zeke discovered he now had someone who wouldn't let him down. He found the gift of trust in someone he could count on, snow or shine. He found the gift of hope in someone who was faithful.
She was eight. And she was invisible. At lest that's how Sam felt most days. She would stand alone on the playground. She would sit unnoticed in the classroom. At home, things were hard. Grandpa had died. A new baby was on the way. She felt like she was being left behind. Like no one could see her...and worse, that no one really tried.
But then Kim, Sam's KIDS HOPE USA mentor, came into her life. Kim called her by name. She looked in her eyes. She listened, uninterrupted, to Sam's voice. And Kim saw her in a way she thought no one had ever seen her before.
In Sam, Kim saw a unique heart and creative spirit. A fun kid, undiscovered by her peers. A bright mind, overlooked in the everyday hubbub. A timid child, unaware of her importance. And through Kim's eyes, Sam began to see herself too. Kim's encouragement gave Sam confidence to step out and take a chance. Her reassurance freed Sam to be herself. Her time and her presence and her caring shined light into Sam's soul...and the sense of invisibility began to disappear.
At home and at school, the second grader had been getting into trouble when Brandon came into his life. And things started to change.
Once a week, every week, Brandon would show up for Seth. For an hour, he would listen, encourage and focus solely on him. He was never in a hurry. Never distracted by a task to do or another person to tend. It was just the two of them. Seth basked in Brandon's attentiveness. And his behavior began to calm.
But after a year and a half of faithful mentoring, Seth's family lost their house. It was a lot of sudden change for the small boy. Everything seems new and uncertain...until he saw Brandon standing in the doorway of his classroom. Relief washed over him at the sight of his familiar face. He hadn't left him.
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