By Sarah Snyder
We're back in the swing of the school year. Time for homework, lots of studying, and tests.
But for some West Texas kids, starting back to school is more difficult than ever.
The high cost of living and current housing crunch has left many families without a place to live.
But one Midland organization is committed to changing that. A transition-home for single moms and children is hoping to make a big difference this school year.
The Midland Fair Havens is a faith-based program helping homeless mothers and children not only find a place to live, but gain independence.
So they've started a brand new Enrichment Center in an effort to place kids and parents back in the classroom.
"School performance is much lower when the child does not have a stable environment," Executive Director DiAnn Koehl with Midland Fair Havens, said. "If they are coming out of chaos, then they usually carry chaos with them into the classroom."
That's why DiAnn Koehl began the Midland Fair Havens helping homeless single mothers with children succeed in both the classroom and in life. But when there's no home to go home to, school gets tough.
"We are finding a little bit more of a challenge right now in Midland for them to find affordable housing with the oil business the way it is and people coming in and needing housing, it's just more and more difficult," Koehl said.
So in addition to providing transitional housing and counseling, they've just opened up the children's Enrichment Center where volunteers spend time tutoring and teaching life skills.
"Some of them require special needs attention," Koehl said. "The schools work just beautifully with us and we have volunteers come tutor children that might need a little extra help that are preparing for some of the qualifying testing that the school district does."
And they're also helping the moms get back to school working with local colleges who provide financial assistance.
"I think some of the most special and heartwarming stories are when the kids see their moms succeed and they say, 'I want to do that too. I want to have my own home, I want to finish school and go to college," Koehl said.
Midland Fair Havens hopes this new learning center will inspire success.
"We offer additional help in the evenings that we haven't been able to in the past, that now that we have our children's enrichment center, we're able to," she said. "Success breeds success, so we just get real excited about watching the kids that may not have had a very bright future initially, come around and see that they can have that too, and that's within their reach."
The Fair Havens is funded by many different individuals and local organizations including several area churches and the United Way.