A four-year-old boy was about to get kicked out of preschool. Without parents in his life, Sam was out of control. He gave the school no options. Then a teacher suggested mentoring through the Appalachia Mentoring Project (AMP). For four straight weeks, Ken showed up at the school to meet with his little protégé, but the boy refused. The school told Ken that he was wasting his time and to give up. Ken said that CAYM trained him to stick to his commitment, no matter what. Ken’s persistence paid off. Slowly, the boy began to warm up to his mentor.
Eight months later, the district social worker asked the teachers how Sam turned around so dramatically. They pointed to Ken, whom they said made all the difference. Ken had continued to show up until the boy became his friend. The social worker cried and said that she thought this boy was a lost cause. She couldn’t find a reason that he completely turned around during the school year until she learned about a mentor who wouldn’t give up.
CAYM helped develop the Appalachia Mentoring Project, where churches joined together to reach the most vulnerable youth in their communities. Sam is part of the Bell County School system, where we started the first mentoring ministry. Our second mentoring ministry is in Clay County, which The New York Times reports is the most difficult place to live in the United States. High poverty, a lack of jobs, and drug addiction plague the region. Sixty percent of the children in this region live in homes where there are no biological parents, due to drug addiction and abandonment. The churches are looking to bring hope to an area that is seen as hopeless.
Sam is one child. The AMP team wants to mentor hundreds of youth in the Appalachian region. Residents of Clay County feel that The New York Times labels them as hopeless. The churches believe that with Christ there is always hope.