Letter from the DIRECTOR,Val Petry
I grew up and raised a family in Madison County. I have been married to my husband Jeff for 33 years. We have three grown sons, two daughter-in-law’s and three granddaughters. I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1987 with a BS in Nursing and completed a Master of Arts Degree specializing in Children, Youth and Family Ministry in 2018. Previously I worked as a stay-at-home mom and as a nurse for about 10 years until I felt God's leading to spend my time and energy serving children and families in the Anderson community.
Before serving at A Heart for Kids, I served in a children’s ministry role for more than 19 years at a local church. I had an amazing opportunity to walk alongside children who came from many different backgrounds and gained valuable insight through that experience. My life was changed for the better during those years of ministry. In April of 2017, I stepped away from serving in that role but continued to have a deep desire to serve children and families in the community.
THE STORY OF HEART FOR KIDS, 2017-2023
In June of 2017, I met with the Principal at Erskine Elementary. He shared with me the children at Erskine would greatly benefit from a free tutoring/mentoring program provided in an after-school setting. With this in mind, I immediately began pursuing an opportunity to establish a faith-based nonprofit organization called “ A Heart for Kids.” We agreed the target start date would be September of 2017. We opened that year with 30 volunteers and 3 college students serving 50 children. Many lessons were learned that first year. :)
In January of 2019, we extended our reach and opened a 2nd location serving children at 10th Street Elementary. Our program continued to grow and by March of 2020, we were blessed with a great team of 38 volunteers and 45 college students serving 80 children between both locations. However, that year ended early due to the Covid pandemic and we did not resume programming until September of 2021.
The 2021-22 school year was challenging and exciting! It was a year of rebuilding. Our focus and priorities included: recruiting volunteers, connecting with and hiring more college students, building new relationships with the teachers and staff as well as our new kids and families. In addition, we were able to hire a new Program Site Director for our 10th street location! This enabled us to move forward in preparing to expand our reach into the community with a 3rd location.
The 2022-23 school year was our best yet! In August, we were able to hire an Administrative/Program Assistant to provide additional support and leadership at 2 of our locations. This new position allowed for our new Program Site Director to switch sites and lead a team in opening a 3rd location in October. We ended the year with a team of 53 volunteers, 65 college and 2 high school students serving as paid tutor/mentors and 3 part-time staff. Together, they served more than 100 children!
We have been blessed with a strong volunteer base and many generous donors! We could not do what we do without our volunteers, college students, host churches and donors! To date we have 10 local churches who support us through volunteers and/or financially. All other financial support comes through individuals, businesses or organizations.
A large portion of our budget is set aside to hire college students to serve as our tutor/mentors and additional support staff. Other important budget dollars are spent providing sandwiches, fruit and milk each day along with supplies needed to use during our one-on-one tutor time. Recruiting more volunteers and hiring additional staff will be essential as we strive to grow our current programs and begin new ones to reach more children and families in the community.
We are grateful for God's provision and for all the individuals, churches, businesses and organizations who support the mission of A Heart for Kids! If you have any questions or would like more information, please reach out to me anytime at 765-425-1045 or email@example.com.
I would love an opportunity to share more with you!