Helping America's Most Vulnerable

Boy With Incarcerated Parent Succeeds

Tommy, age 8, faces many challenges. With one parent in prison and the other deceased, Tommy is being raised by his devoted grandmother, who is legally blind. Last year Tommy joined our Mentoring Children of Promise Program, designed to give the thousands of local children with an incarcerated parent extra attention and guidance. An alarming percentage of children with a parent in prison end up behind bars themselves. Volunteers of America works hard to break this heart-breaking cycle. When he entered our program, Tommy had normal intelligence and was active and well-behaved, but he lagged behind other children his age in many ways. He needed help with reading and making friends. He couldn’t tie his shoes or name the days of the week. Volunteers of America mentor Ingrid Michelle Johnson was eager to help. She began working with him twice a week for hours at a time on his reading. His first grade year was tough, but Johnson helped him through. He passed, and Johnson rejoiced. She encouraged Tommy to take advantage of a summer camp that helped him with reading and math and, when this school year started, an after-school academic program at a neighborhood center. Tommy is now on track with other second graders. He’s making friends, too. Johnson still sees Tommy each week, giving him and his grandmother support and attention. She says, “Taking time to help others, especially children like Tommy, is a blessing.”