Claire Ruggles, Executive Director of Northern Moore Family Resource Center, spoke to the Seven Lakes Kiwanians June 26 on the progress of HOPE Academy and its impact on Northern Moore County children.
NMFRC ‘s mission is “to encourage the development of strong families, healthy children, and caring communities by matching resources with needs in the northern Moore County area.”
During Ruggles 12 years with NMFRC, she has seen many changes in their pre-school program. Ninety percent of Robbins school children receive free breakfast and lunch, and fifty percent of the children are hispanic. Teachers were concerned about delays in learning due to language, nutrition and lack of pre-school education.
The teachers approached Ruggles to discuss options to help the children. The plan for a pre-school program began.
After eliminating a couple of sites, NMFRC approached the city of Robbins for help. Robbins offered to rent the old fire station for $1 per year. A lot of work had to be done, but volunteers came forward such as an architect, landscaper, designer and lots of extra hands.
The new school is called HOPE Academy. HOPE stands for Harnessing Opportunity Promoting Excellence. The number of pre-school children has increased during the past three years.
Pre-school hours have increased from half days to full days. Summer camp attendees have increased from 60 children to 300 children after a kitchen was installed. Each child attends for a half day.
Construction delays have slowed down the opening of an after school program. When completed, there will be more classroom space plus a green space which will contain a stage and a half basketball court that can be used as a dance floor.
The academy’s next project will be the acquisition of two buses to pick up students and take them home. Transportation, language and food are challenges every day, according to Ruggles.
Funding and supplies come from the United Way, the Food Bank, generous donors, grants and endowments. The goal is to have funding for three years. Attention can then be directed toward improving childhood education instead of finances.
Claire Ruggles said she is grateful to the Kiwanis Club of Seven Lakes for their donation.
Photograph courtesy of Kiwanis Club of Seven Lakes: Claire Ruggles poses for a picture after speaking to the Kiwanis Club.