The request was direct and all too common: please pray for a lady whose husband has passed away in the prime of his life, leaving her with a host of young children to raise. The only difference in this case was that this brave lady wanted to continue home schooling.
|"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."|
Come to think of it, this was the fifth or sixth such prayer request David* had heard. Then it struck him: perhaps he could help. He knew whom to call. His proposition to Mike Farris was simple: if he donated some money toward a fund to help widows continue to home school, would Home School Legal Defense administer it?
When HSLDA was approached with the idea, we were unsure-starting a program from scratch would be a lot of work, yet it was a wonderful idea! We had sent numerous condolence letters to recently widowed members over the years, and the only kind of help we had been able to give them was in the form of a free membership. James 1:27 kept coming to mind, with its divine charge to care for widows and orphans.
|"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him get up."|
After a year and a half of operating this fund-which we called the Widows Curriculum Scholarship Fund-over 200 widows have been helped with an average gift of $370 each.As a result of one home schooling father's obedience, these ladies and their children have been greatly encouraged. The blessing that the HSLDA staff have received through the opportunity to administer this fund has been no less. As Rhonda Maki, administrator of the WCSF, puts it, "Working with these ladies is truly a ministry of tears: tears of sadness over the great loss they have experienced, and then tears of joy as we see their needs met and their hearts encouraged."
The WCSF was established under the Home School Foundation, a supporting organization of HSLDA founded in 1999. The HSF was originally begun as a way to help groups who were part of HSLDA's group discount program and other home school promotional activities and research. As we processed widows' applications and learned their stories, our vision began to broaden as we saw the possibilities of establishing similar funds to help other member families in need. Our new Special Needs Children's Fund and the Friends of Home Schooling Fund are the results of this expanded vision.
Special Needs Children's Fund
|The Foundation's website & logo|
The Home School Foundation's website (http://www.homeschoolfoundation.org) is slated to launch in mid November 2001. Our goal is for this website to be a dynamic way to keep you informed of the Foundation's development. It will feature the addition of any new funds, testimonials, pictures, prayer requests, and general updates. This site will also make it easy for people to request further information about any of the funds and/or make a donation to the Foundation.
In case you're wondering, the Home School Foundation is the new name for Home School Legal Defense Foundation. Our board of directors felt that this new name better reflects the broader mission of the foundation. And Friends of Home Schooling has replaced our former Friends and Alumni membership category.
The Foundation's logo is an
outline of an apple, implying its educational objectives-specifically to help needy home schoolers and other home school organizations.
Years ago, when HSLDA first received applications from families who had children with special needs, we're embarrassed to admit it, but we didn't exactly welcome them with open arms. We charged them more, and we required them to retain the services of a special needs consultant. We had our reasons. School districts were not going to let go of these kids easily, and we wanted to make sure we could properly defend the families. Yet our stance at times discouraged a family from even trying to home school, which wasn't what we wanted to happen.
So we changed our policy. We lowered the membership rate for these families to the same $100 fee all members pay and hired a special needs coordinator to specifically assist these member families with their unique challenges and questions.
Today, approximately one in ten HSLDA member families has a child with some sort of special learning need.
We often hear from families who find themselves in the dilemma of having a child whose learning needs require expensive therapy or equipment. Many families can't afford to meet these needs privately, yet they do not want to turn to the public school system. HSLDA's Special Needs Coordinator Betty Statnick emphasizes, "There is often great strain on the finances of families who home school special needs children." Though we've helped some of these folks with full or partial scholarships for HSLDA membership, there was little more we could do to help them.
Through the Special Needs Children's Fund, we can provide more tangible assistance and with Betty's help, we have designed a process to determine the level of need. Now all we lack is funding to start helping families. "Contributing to the Special Needs Children's Fund," explains Betty, "would be a practical way not only to bless these often misunderstood families, but also to please their Creator and Redeemer."
Friends of Home Schooling Fund
When you "retire" from home schooling, would you be interested in continuing to support HSLDA? Do you know young couples who hope to home school when they have children, but would like to get involved now? Through a tax-deductible gift to the Friends of Home Schooling fund, anyone can support HSLDA as a "Friend" and stand with us to protect home school freedoms.
Even if these folks don't need us, we still need them if we are to keep home school freedoms alive for future generations. Although HSLDA's membership fee has not changed in over 18 years of service, legal costs have escalated, and our range of services has increased to now include representation of home schooling to the media, lobbying efforts at the state and national levels, e-lerts, etc. Consequently, we decided that now was the time to start building a fund to help in future legal battles involving home schooling. All donations to the Friends of Home Schooling fund will go toward the legal expenses incurred by HSLDA.
Members Helping Members Fund
An increasing number of HSLDA member families are reporting that the recent economic downturn following the tragic events of September 11 has negatively impacted them-either through job loss or significant pay cuts.
Understandably, many cannot afford to renew their membership, though they would like very much to do so. These are heartbreaking calls. At the same time, others who have been blessed with financial stability during this difficult time have called to ask how they can extend a helping hand to fellow home school families.
Both groups will be pleased to know that the Home School Foundation has established a scholarship fund to assist families with HSLDA membership-the Members Helping Members Fund.
Discount Group Grant Program
In addition to assisting individuals, the HSF has helped to fund the worthy projects of many home school groups. Through the Foundation's Discount Group Grant Program, these local groups have organized lending libraries for those who cannot afford to purchase books, set up various benevolence funds, and offered scholarships for college and graduation ceremonies, to name a few services. If your group has developed an idea to help needy home schoolers in your community, let us know and we'll post it on the Foundation's website to encourage other groups.
We are thrilled that home schoolers and their local groups desire to help others. Consequently, we are excited about our Foundation and these new funds, and hope you will be too. Please pray that God will allow us to help as many people and organizations as possible. For the foreseeable future, HSLDA will continue to pay for most operating expenses, so you can be confident that your donations are being used only for your designated purposes.
What Lies Ahead?
Please pray that God would direct us to similar endeavors in the future, if such is His desire. One potential opportunity involves single mothers. We frequently receive calls from women whose husbands have abandoned them. In the words of one such mother, "Though I did not lose my husband through a physical death, I have nevertheless lost him . . . my children are without a father, and we are on our own." Unlike widows, single moms receive no survivor benefits. Commonly they receive no or little child support, and regularly they feel abandoned by their friends and church. Yet they want to somehow keep home schooling.
We admire their determination and frequently are able to help them with membership scholarships, but would love to do more. We're not sure how. The numbers of such home schooling families are probably in the thousands. Nevertheless, they are a very needy segment of the home school community and could use our help.
Acts 20:35 tells us Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," and we have experienced the truth of these words. Therefore, as you are able, we encourage you and your organizations to see where you can be a support in your local communities. Additionally, if you would like to be a part of the Foundation's ministries, we invite you to go to our website at www.homeschoolfoundation.org or call us at 540.338.5600. And please continue to pray for us as we seek the Lord's direction in the use of our current funds and developing new ones.
* Due to the donor's wish to remain anonymous, his name has been changed for this article.