WAVES4K.I.D.S. Gives Kindles & Kindness to Kids in Brunswick County
Every five minutes, a child is abused or neglected in North Carolina. In about half of the cases, these children understand abuse before they learn to read. These are just some of the somber facts cited on the website for WAVES4K.I.D.S., a non-profit organization providing financial assistance and essential services to disadvantaged and at-risk children in Brunswick County.
Founded in 2004, WAVES4K.I.D.S. was created by the efforts of Jane Cassidy, Guardian ad Litem District 3 Administrator, Cheryl Frances, Guardian ad Litem Program Supervisor, and Joyce Tyson, Child Protective Services Supervisor. WAVES4K.I.D.S. was originally developed to raise funds for the unmet needs of Brunswick County youth associated with the Department of Social Services (D.S.S.), but it has since expanded.
Today, WAVES4K.I.D.S. helps support Brunswick County youth in foster care, Child Protective Services, the Guardian ad Litem program, and any other situation in which their financial and/or basic needs cannot be met.
John Waters, acting president of WAVES4K.I.D.S., explains that part of the organization’s name – K.I.D.S. – is an acronym for “Kids In Disruptive Situations.”
“These are children living in homes where there’s drugs, alcohol, separations, violence… so many challenges,” he says. “We’re trying to do as much as we can to help [them] have better lives.”
WAVES4K.I.D.S. provides services that include but are not limited to: tutoring, creative/expressive arts lessons, therapeutic activities, sports equipment, and medical devices.
“We take requests from D.S.S. for anything,” says Vice President, Jean Harwell, who has been involved with WAVES4K.I.D.S from the start. “And our turnaround time is very quick,” she adds. “If a child loses glasses, we can get them [new ones] within 24 hours. We’ve treated houses for infestation and provided [tuition for] summer camp.”
The non-profit organization, run entirely by volunteers, is able to offer this assistance through a series of initiatives (which continues to grow) as well as grants, fundraisers, donors, and sponsors. This year’s fall fundraiser event, “An Evening with Elvis n’ Friends,” will be held at St. James Community Center on September 16. Co-sponsored by Renee’s Fine Jewelry, the event will feature food, entertainment, and dancing. Harwell says that the group always needs more volunteers to help make it all happen. “It does take a village,” she says.
Each year, WAVES4K.I.D.S offers scholarships through their “Education and Development Fund” initiative, funded primarily by The Phillip A. Cook Memorial Golf Tournament. This year, fifteen students will be awarded scholarships to help towards their attendance at an accredited community college, university, or technical/vocational school or program.
WAVES4K.I.D.S works to make it possible for kids to succeed in school from an early age. With their “Stuffin’ Book Bags” initiative, they distribute backpacks to students in need, filled with school supplies specific to their respective grades and curriculums.
The organization also recently launched a program called “Kindles-4-Kids” (K4K) at South Brunswick Middle School (SBM), in an effort to encourage students to spend more time reading. WAVES4K.I.D.S. provided the school with Kindles and the teachers with funds to purchase books to download onto the devices. Now, the students of SBM regularly borrow Kindles, taking them home to read. The result has been so positive, says Waters, that educators all across the district are interested in starting “K4K” in their own schools. If there are volunteers willing to spearhead the project in other parts of the county, this wonderful program could expand, he says.
Daphne Green, the D.S.S Adults and Children’s Services Administrator, says that Waves4K.I.D.S. makes a true difference in the lives of the children she works with. Green says one of the group’s most meaningful initiatives is the annual holiday party they host.
“Our foster kids otherwise might not have a chance to see Santa and get together and have dinner and gifts,” she says. The clothing closet initiative is also immensely helpful, she adds, assisting families with emergency clothing and necessary supplies, such as diapers and car seats. Waters says that neither initiative would be possible without the generous support of Ocean Ridge Charities Association (ORCA) and the St. James Service Club.
Jeff Maidment, District 13 Guardian ad Litem Administrator, says that WAVES4K.I.D.S. plays an integral part in the process of supporting children involved with the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program. For instance, GAL’s dedicated volunteers travel near and far to help give displaced children a voice in court, but they don’t receive any reimbursement for mileage. So WAVES4K.I.D.S. recently started a program to provide gas cards periodically to “recognize these folks who are going over and above to represent these kids,” says Maidment. “It benefits the kids … it’s so important that these children are seen and taken care of properly.”
For more information about WAVES4K.I.D.S. or to learn how to get involved, visit: http://www.waves4kids.org/