New Friends at The Foundry

The year 2021 brought to The Foundry two new faces who are already making an impact!

Meet Krista Steenbergen. This past August, Krista took on the role of Director of Donor Services, coming to The Foundry with twenty-two years of major gift fundraising experience in education. Krista has been eager to use her gifts and experience, and something she already loves is hearing so many wonderful things about The Foundry from people in the community. “When I mention my role and the organization, faces light up! People are so proud of the work that is being done here!” Krista is so excited to be a part of the continued expansion of services in the West End of Bowling Green and is looking forward to the future.

Krista is passionate about wellness and is eager to bring this passion to her work at The Foundry, improving the wellness of our kids! “I am looking forward to watching God work in this organization to expand services and bring new programs to The Foundry and its families,” Krista shared, “I can’t wait to meet the students and families at the Fun Run in October!”

Laurie Tingle joined The Foundry in June as our new Grant & Finance Director. Since she came on board in the summer months, she was thrilled when school started back, and she saw the children entering the halls. “I’ll never forget their sweet little faces as I sat with them on the gym floor that first morning, new backpacks strapped on their backs, eager to show me their new shoes. It was the best slice of joy to watch those little ones so excited for that first day of school, a new adventure!”

Laurie was introduced to The Foundry when a friend from her church asked her to lead a finance class for a group of parents at The Foundry. “My husband and I were both bankers and enjoyed talking with these families and helping them with their family finances. It was honestly a great joy just to be able to help in that way!” Not long after that, a friend texted Laurie to let her know of a job opening at The Foundry. Then COVID-19 hit, a year went by with so many businesses and organizations closing, and that position was no longer available. As businesses started reopening, a different position became available, and Laurie felt like the timing was right and she needed to interview for it. “It was perfect timing, God’s timing!” Laurie said.

Laurie and Krista recognize that The Foundry is an amazing place, filled with precious children from all backgrounds who are unconditionally loved by the teachers and staff. They hope The Foundry continues to move forward with the wisdom and grace that only God gives, to make an exponential difference and help these little ones become strong, productive adults, not only within their families but in this community and the world!

The Foundry, Winter Newsletter 2021

Holly’s Story: Growing The Foundry by Growing Seeds

One December, Anndee Crutcher, a supporter of The Foundry, invited her friend Holly Pickerel to tour the facility for Giving Tuesday. As Holly saw and heard the children in the gym, classrooms, and halls, she suddenly knew that a one-time fundraiser wasn’t the only way she wanted to be involved with The Foundry.

Holly, a former elementary school teacher and now a leader in a health company, has seen many programs and classrooms benefit from growing fresh, organic produce using aeroponic Tower Gardens. Before Holly even knew that health and fitness was one of The Foundry’s main pillars, she confided to her friend Anndee her hope that they might one day bring a Tower Garden to The Foundry. The very next week, The Foundry’s cafeteria manager at the time, Dani, said, “I should offer to educate The Foundry about Tower Gardens!” Holly’s eyes nearly popped out of her head, and she prayed, “Okay, God. I’m listening. Let’s make this happen!” Dani’s willingness to take the initiative set the wheels in motion, and the three ladies were soon bursting with ideas. Within only thirty days, the full cost for the Garden Tower had been donated to The Foundry.

Not only was Holly a key player in bringing a Tower Garden to The Foundry, but through her work with Juice Plus+, she had access to an excellent PreK-12 curriculum guide that she used to bring health and wellness classes to The Foundry. As students learned these lifelong concepts, they were also singing and dancing to songs about fruits and vegetables, coloring pages that show healthy food choices, learning the food groups, and getting exercise through plenty of movement and hands-on activities.

Holly said, “I deeply believe in teaching children to plant seeds and showing them how seeds develop into healthy food. Along the way, they’ll learn how healthy food can lead to better health and hope for a productive future. The power of a plant is this: HOPE! Growth! And transformation!”

Holly feels excited about teaching children healthy eating habits that could hopefully prevent diseases later in life. She understands, however, that children might balk at eating certain foods they haven’t tasted before. Holly explained, “Did you know that it can take up to twenty-one exposures for a child to acquire the palate for an unknown food? This means that while these babes aren’t eating spinach today, eventually, and with enough exposures, they will! But it takes willing, patient adults who are diligent to keep putting it in front of them.”

When asked how Holly has most seen God at work at The Foundry, she answered, “In my own heart. He is reminding me that if I will be faithful to plant the seed (both literally and figuratively), then He will bring the harvest. But that big, grand, exciting harvest of children with healthy bodies and minds fueled with phytonutrients and colors and an appetite for a plate full of fruits and vegetables starts with lots of small, simple, seemingly insignificant little seeds. I am honored to be a seed at The Foundry!”

God has an amazing way of growing harvests each year with the addition of new workers and additional “seed.” The Tower Garden story has continued in the 2020-2021 school year.

Ms. Allysa Benton, our Warren County preschool teacher, started a plant study with her students offering them the opportunity to see plants grow from seed. After starting them in the windowsill of her classroom, tiny plants moved into the Tower Garden for growth to maturity. The Tower Garden is located in the cafeteria where all The Foundry students can watch the plants grow.

Mrs. Shawna Wood, our Healthy Foundry Director, wanted to start tackling the issue of childhood obesity that is plaguing our youngest citizens in the West End. Part of her strategy is an education campaign in which the students learn healthy lifestyle habits, including eating 5+ servings of fruits and veggies each day.

As Holly shared when she brought the Tower Garden to The Foundry originally, children need lots of attempts and exposure to new tastes AND they are more likely to try these new things when they’ve been part of the growing process.

Ms. Leann Chapman came to The Foundry with all of her culinary talents and heart to enrich both our student’s plates and lives. She strategically creates menus which not only provide fresh fruits and veggies daily for our children, but to introduce them to new foods and tastes in kid-friendly ways.

Allysa, Shawna, Holly, and Leann are partnering to further develop the Garden Tower’s production so that all of The Foundry students can learn about and try not only a variety of greens, but other vegetables and herbs, too!

The Tower Garden is truly a picture of sustained partnership and growth – season after season!

The Foundry, Summer Newsletter 2021

Bring Joy Through Struggles: Danny’s Story of Love for The Foundry

Years ago, a young boy named Danny began attending the Boys’ Club in Bowling Green, Kentucky, at the age of eight. That organization became such an integral part of his life that he kept attending through the age of eleven. The building that was then known as the Boys’ Club would years later take on its new identity as The Foundry Christian Community Center. Young Danny had no way of knowing that he would someday return to this building in a much larger capacity.
Danny Carothers is the beloved Community Director at The Foundry, and he carries out many roles. Checking on the grounds, conducting security work, supervising the community garden, overseeing the janitorial system, and driving the bus for Megan’s Mobile Grocery are all tasks you could find him doing.

How did Danny find himself in this role, doing so much for The Foundry?

Before Danny was employed by The Foundry, he had been mentoring a young man who was planning to become a teacher but needed help preparing for the required practice test. Danny connected him to some mentors at The Foundry, and the young man also took on the role as Community Director. As expected, with the help of The Foundry, he eventually passed the necessary test, became employed by the school system, and had to resign from his role as Community Director. Danny, who had already worked for twenty-seven years in a factory, longed to be in a position where he could work directly with people and believed God was leading him into this newly vacated role.

“Never in a million years would that little boy at the Boys’ Club have imagined I would be here someday!” Danny Carothers said with enthusiasm. “Every day is a gift as God allows me to work with all these beautiful people.”

Danny overflowed with joy as he told about the community garden program that had plots gardened by twenty-nine families last year. This included four different nationalities, and one family from the Congo included fifteen people.

“Lots of vegetables came from that garden last year,” Danny said proudly. “There were language barriers, but you could still feel the love between everyone.”

The children at The Foundry also make Danny enjoy coming to work every day.

“I get there about 7:15 every morning,” he said, “so I’m able to see them getting off the bus. I watch their shoulders lift as they come into the building and see them smile at they go toward the big breakfast waiting for them.”

Danny said he wanted to make a difference in the lives of these children, so he took multiple trainings and tests so he could interact with them more effectively.

“I chat with the kids and play with them in the gym,” Danny said. “If I have to stop by a classroom, I’m careful to pick the best time because the kids get off task so easily. The teachers will have them working on something, but once they see me, they all start calling, ‘Mr. Danny! Mr. Danny!’ So I try not to be disruptive.”

Danny said the blessings that come from interacting with those from The Foundry, and also Megan’s Mobile Grocery, are two-fold.

“We all have struggles,” he said. “If I can bring somebody joy among their struggles, that helps two people—me and them.”

The Foundry, Spring Newsletter 2021

Support All the Big Things Happening at The Foundry

Dear Friends and Supporters of The Foundry,

I am so thrilled to be in this role that God has placed me in at The Foundry! I am also excited about the things God is leading us to for the year 2021.

The Gospels are filled with examples of Jesus ministering to the whole person; He not only taught the people He encountered, but He fed them and healed their physical bodies. We also know from research that children’s academic success is strongly linked to their health. That’s why we are thrilled to announce that, through the Good Samaritans Grant, The Foundry has received funds to promote our new Healthy Foundry Initiative, providing a holistic wellness approach for the mind, body, and spirit.

Recently, we hired Shawna Wood as our Healthy Foundry Director. As soon as she accepted the position, she began building new connections and strengthening existing connections with healthcare partners in Bowling Green. The Healthy Foundry plans to provide health screenings (vision, dental, hearing, general wellness, and mental health) for people in the West End and help them find further care when needed.

Also, contingent on local COVID-19 guidelines, the Healthy Foundry will be offering organized fitness opportunities for people in the West End community. These family-friendly events will also involve a faith component, such as prayer or a short Bible teaching.

This year, we are excited for the expansion of our existing gardening project to include high tunnels through a partnership with Crossland Community Church. Community members will once again be able to grow fresh produce for themselves, and the high tunnels will expand the growing season to nine months out of the year. This will provide income possibility for local residents through a local food bank that is needing locally-grown, fresh produce. In addition to gardening education, we will offer nutrition and cooking classes for community residents wanting to learn how to prepare healthy meals at home.

The Foundry is working with the South Central Workforce Development Board to host a job fair in 2021. Individuals in the West End will be pre-screened to find out what types of work they are looking for, and then employers in need of those types of workers would be brought to the job fair, which should hopefully result in a high number of people gaining employment! This event was last held at the Bowling Green Hot Rods stadium, and we are excited to hold it on the soccer field at The Foundry this year.

Through all we do, our objective at The Foundry is to be the hub of the West End and direct people in the right direction regarding their needs. The question I want each of us to ask ourselves is, “What can I do to further impact our children, families, and the entire West End?”

When you invest in The Foundry, it leaves a lasting impact on the West End and with children and families at large. This area can change and transform, but it takes consistency, investment, time, and sharing the message. With every investment a person makes into The Foundry, the trajectory of a child, family, and community is changed.

We invite you to join us as we continue to invest in the future of the West End.

Dr. Terry Daniels

The Foundry, Spring 2021

Great Things This Year for The Foundry

The epic year of 2020 has come to a close. As we look back, we all have definitive moments—good or bad—that stand out to us. The Foundry is no different.

The Valencia family’s four boys have been a part of The Foundry since 2017. Jonathan and Diego are graduates of preschool and now attend the after-school program. Sander is completing his last year of preschool in Miss Shannon’s room, while William just began this semester in the three-year-old class.

Our teachers have seen the Valencia boys flourish as they continue their education. Not only have they evolved as creative thinkers, but they have also developed socially, as their teachers see daily in their friendships with other students. Their teachers have also noticed how well the boys’ speech has improved during their time at The Foundry.

The growth of these precious boys can’t be attributed to The Foundry alone, but The Foundry’s extra effort and impact continues to pour into their growth and development. The Valencia parents are very involved in the lives of their sons and, before COVID-19, they were routinely seen at The Foundry’s parent involvement events and holiday parties. Their optimistic, caring spirits have pushed their boys to become loving children and hard-working students. After-school Coordinator Will Downing recalls going to the family’s apartment following Jonathan’s graduation from preschool. Mr. and Mrs. Valencia had hung Jonathan’s certificate up on their mantle, showing their pride in the work their sons do at The Foundry.

The Valencia family saw a lot of changes in 2020, including a very positive one. At the start of the pandemic, they were able to move out of their apartment into a house! Not only did this move put them in close proximity to The Foundry, but they now live in a house that has a nice backyard for their children to play in. Mr. Valencia has spent months renovating the house for his family, and The Foundry has also helped with the house during the pandemic. The Valencia boys are very curious and love exploring their new place.

The Foundry and the Valencia family have a very meaningful relationship with each other. Mr. and Mrs. Valencia are always willing to do whatever is best for their children and they trust us, The Foundry, to help their children learn and grow into their best selves. God has worked in this family in magnificent ways, and we are so grateful He has allowed us the opportunity to be a part of their lives.

The Foundry, Winter Newsletter 2021

Transformation: Through the Eyes of Sonja Blatchford

When the community hears of The Foundry, our hope is that the heart of our mission comes to mind: “…to empower children and families to bring about spiritual and community transformation.” As we strive to live out our mission, not only have children and families been empowered by The Foundry, but our staff members and volunteers have, as well.

Sonja Blatchford began working with The Foundry in 2014 through her role as Senior Staff Associate at Broadway United Methodist Church. She and Pastor Adam Shourds, also from Broadway UMC, thoughtfully began writing The Foundry’s strategic plan. Listening to God’s calling, Broadway United Methodist Church played a vital role in preparing and launching the new preschool at The Foundry. Senior Pastor, Rick Bard, believed Sonja would be the right person to take over many of the new duties The Foundry presented, so he offered to place her in a staff position at The Foundry. The Foundry Board of Directors welcomed that offer and appointed her Interim Executive Director in the fall of 2014. Sonja assisted with hiring the initial staff, led the renovation of the building, and tended to the multiple tedious steps required for The Foundry to become state licensed. Despite all the challenges she knew the project would entail, Sonja’s conviction that God was leading this process drove her passion.

“I understood that the plans we were making as a team affected lives,” Sonja said. “I knew I would be taken out of my comfort zone. It kept me praying to remain faithful and open to the ways God was stretching me. My conviction that God had ordained this ministry gave me assurance that He would provide—and He did in amazing and wonderful ways. His business is transformation, after all!”

Working to turn The Foundry into a functioning, state-licensed preschool would undoubtedly hit some snags along the way. Sonja remembered the team working tirelessly for months to prepare for the state inspection. This preparation required attention to multiple details—the facility, curriculum, employee training, classrooms, and stacks of paperwork. The inspector arrived and was in awe of all the work that had been done. When she tested the water in the preschool bathroom sink, however, it wasn’t hot enough to pass inspection.

“I thought I might cry then and there,” Sonja confessed. “I prayed big time, and God provided.” The contractor was called, soon arrived to make a quick adjustment to the water heater and The Foundry became a state-licensed preschool.

“What kept me going was my conviction that God’s hand was on this ministry, and all we had to do was be faithful and rely on Him every step of the way. In truth, God could have accomplished it without any of us or the many, many people and churches that were involved in launching it. But He knew that in the process each of us would be transformed and would be blessed in amazing ways.”

And God continues to bless in amazing ways. Even during this difficult time of navigating a pandemic, The Foundry reopened our doors on Tuesday, Sept. 8th for our Preschool Academy with precautions being taken to keep our students and staff safe.

Teachers are daily sanitizing their rooms and have eliminated cloth toys and rugs. Instead of eating in the lunchroom, students are eating within their pods of ten in their own classroom. The instructional day has also changed to better adapt to the circumstances. Some of our preschoolers would normally come for a half day of instruction in either the morning or afternoon, but they are now alternating days and staying for the whole day, since half days would require time for additional daily sanitization.

Another helpful accommodation is that teachers are wearing plastic shield masks. This allows students to read their teachers’ lips, which is especially important for students learning to speak English. It also allows students to see more of their teachers’ faces and welcoming smiles.

As we reflect back on some of The Foundry’s beginnings, we are thankful for people like Sonja who helped launch The Foundry – and as we attempt to persevere through these challenging circumstances, we are thankful for our leaders, teachers, students, donors and prayer warriors and so many others who continue to move us into the future.

Big Changes and A Bright Future for The Foundry

The Foundry has seen many changes in the last year and a half. When Rick Bard stepped down, we were blessed to have Dr. Linda Johnson, who was already serving on the board, help bridge the gap as the volunteer interim Executive Director while the Board of Directors prayerfully searched for a new Executive Director.

Earlier this year, when much of the world froze in time, the Board of Directors took advantage of the silence to dive deeply into the organization’s mission, vision, values, future goals, and overall direction. The Board of Directors met under the leadership of a new board member, Dr. Terry Daniels, mapping out the strategic plan for how The Foundry would continue to serve Bowling Green. Terry’s passion for the community was evident during those meetings, and, as they continued, the rest of the Board of Directors began to sense that their prayers for a new Executive Director may have been answered.

“As a child, I grew up near The Foundry and the neighborhood it serves. I learned to play basketball in what is now The Foundry gym. I have an intimate awareness of what each child and family encounters and needs on a daily basis,” shared Terry. “I choose to serve on the board because I have a passion for helping improve whole families. As I’ve learned more about The Foundry, I’ve been astonished at how much the mission and vision align with my own passions.”

The board confirmed Terry’s alignment with the mission and vision of the Foundry when, at the June board meeting, they unanimously voted to hire Dr. Terry Daniels as the new Executive Director. “Terry is uniquely qualified to serve in this role, having lived in the West End of Bowling Green and sharing a passion for God’s ministry to the families and children who are our neighbors at The Foundry,” said interim Executive Director Dr. Linda Johnson. Linda will continue to serve The Foundry, and support Terry in her previous position as the board’s Chair of Finance.

Join in welcoming Terry and praying that his time at The Foundry is marked by Godly leadership and spiritual renewal in our community.

The Board of Directors, faculty, staff, children, and families of The Foundry are grateful for the dedication and hard work of Susan McCloud, the founding Education Director of The Foundry’s preschool academy. During her leadership years, Mrs. McCloud was devoted and successful in building a high-quality five-star licensed preschool program in the West End of Bowling Green! We are thankful for the years we were able to steal from her retirement from her days as Principal at T.C. Cherry Elementary, and are ever-thankful for her time at The Foundry.

The board is excited to announce that Melanie Llontop will build upon Susan’s work as our new Education Director. Melanie is a WKU grad who brings 27 years of experience in education. Melanie is fluent in Spanish and brings a demonstrated eye for detail and organization.

Please pray with us that Melanie’s extensive experience and fresh perspective will serve The Foundry well for years to come.

The Foundry’s vision continues to focus on building sustainable redemptive partnerships around children and families in the West End of Bowling Green. Our mission is to lay the foundation for future leaders to serve our community through education, health and wellness, and spiritual development.

We stand in a theological tradition that affirms our faith-based conviction and commitment to strong neighborhood relationships. Our commitment to a Biblical Foundation is unwavering. We value an inclusiveness and a welcoming environment. We share our passion for God and seek the good of our neighbors in Humble Service.

The tumult throughout the country reinforces the merits of The Foundry’s path of diversity and inclusion. Kindergarten readiness and early childhood education continue as foundational goals of The Foundry and the metric by which we measure our progress. We are preparing to open The Foundry Preschool Academy in the Fall under the guidelines established by the Governor’s office. The Foundry moves ahead in this period of challenge and change. More than ever, your continued support and prayers are necessary for the continued success of this ministry.

The Foundry, Spring Newsletter 2020

Growing Families by Growing Gardens

The Foundry has become well-known in the community for its successful preschool and after-school programs. Many people, however, are unaware that education is only one of The Foundry’s two divisions. The other is its Community Programming division, which includes its athletic program, gardens, and other activities.

The Community Garden Program began five years ago when one of The Foundry’s Board of Directors, Charlene Walker, who was also a master gardener and a neighbor to The Foundry, suggested using part of The Foundry’s eight acres to allow families to grow their own food. Charlene had a vision for how this would benefit the families of The Foundry by creating food sustainability in an area that had no grocery stores within walking distance. This could help families out on a regular basis, and as well as during challenging economic times.

Like most people, the families of The Foundry didn’t know when this year began that a global pandemic would cause 2020 to be one of those challenging economic times. With many of our families already facing poverty and other difficulties, the current economic crisis has added another obstacle to accessing food. Being able to plant and raise their own food has helped ease that burden for our families participating in the Community Garden Program.

Charlene’s vision would turn into a reality and eventually involve even more people in the community. Last year the garden program was organized by WKU intern Dixie Major, who had a double major in Horticulture and Spanish, which was very beneficial for the Spanish speaking families participating in the program. The Boy Scouts also came to the Foundry and voluntarily built a garden shed for the program to use.

Danny Carothers is now in the role of Director of Community Programming, and so many exciting things have already happened this year. A generous donor gave The Foundry a beautiful, shiny red tiller, and Abraham Williams from the Housing Authority sent over a tractor to prepare the ground. A community member volunteered to raise vegetables on a plot and then donate them to the Mobile Grocery—a food truck that parks in the neighborhood to allow families to buy groceries, since no grocery stores are nearby.

The gardening program is expanding significantly. While last year The Foundry had eighteen participants, this year that number has grown to twenty-nine. Gardeners are also being added from Lee Point, a housing development for refugees in Bowling Green.

The response to the gardening program these past five years has been outstanding. Colorful tomatoes, beans, corn, and other nutrient-rich vegetables have been filling up the dinner tables. Parents, brothers, and sisters can often be found working together as a family on their plot of ground.

The participants have expressed appreciation to The Foundry for this opportunity to increase the food they’re bringing into their homes and have conveyed how much joy that brings them. Yet as staff at The Foundry see our sweet families’ hard work being rewarded by beautiful vegetables popping up out of the ground, we are grateful to share in that joy, as well.

The Foundry, Summer Newsletter 2020

Frightened to Flourishing. Antonio’s story.

The success of The Foundry would not be possible without our caring, dedicated teachers. They play a life-changing role in our students’ lives and are the ones who get to witness our students’ progress firsthand. One of The Foundry’s preschool teachers, Ms. Shannon Tuggle, has experienced the joy of seeing tremendous growth in her students, and particularly in her student Antonio.

Antonio first came to The Foundry in January of 2020. His family had recently arrived from Mexico, and Antonio was completely unfamiliar with the English language. The transition to life in a new country, with a different language and so many unfamiliar faces, was very difficult for him. He cried as he was dropped off at the preschool each morning and cried more throughout the day. Ms. Shannon and her assistant Ms. Mary went the extra mile to try to make Antonio’s transition a little easier for him.

The success of The Foundry would not be possible without our caring, dedicated teachers. They play a life-changing role in our students’ lives and are the ones who get to witness our students’ progress firsthand. One of The Foundry’s preschool teachers, Ms. Shannon Tuggle, has experienced the joy of seeing tremendous growth in her students, and particularly in her student Antonio.

Antonio first came to The Foundry in January of 2020. His family had recently arrived from Mexico, and Antonio was completely unfamiliar with the English language. The transition to life in a new country, with a different language and so many unfamiliar faces, was very difficult for him. He cried as he was dropped off at the preschool each morning and cried more throughout the day. Ms. Shannon and her assistant Ms. Mary went the extra mile to try to make Antonio’s transition a little easier for him.

I learned a few phrases in Spanish so that I could try to comfort and console him,” Ms. Shannon said. “We would get him involved in activities right away, which seemed to be a welcome distraction for him.” Antonio’s adjustment was hard and gradual for him, but his teachers continued to shower him with love, encouragement, and assurance that he was welcomed and cared for in his new school. “Over the weeks,” Ms. Shannon said, “he began to cry less and less. He seemed to be adapting to his surroundings. Then one morning, out of the blue, there were no tears. He walked into the classroom with a smile on his face and waved goodbye to his mother.”

Antonio is no longer the frightened little boy who cries each morning. Instead, he is a detail-oriented student who is full of creativity. He has learned his colors in English and recognizes letters and sounds. Singing, dancing, and playing with his friends are now routine activities he enjoys. Antonio can write his name on his own, draw, color, and has become a leader in his classroom. He was recently elated to take his turn holding the flag as the class recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Ms. Shannon and Ms. Mary are thrilled at Antonio’s progress and love the joy he brings to the classroom. Ms. Shannon says proudly of her student, “Antonio is thriving. I am so thankful that the Lord led Antonio and his family to The Foundry. I feel that Antonio’s presence here at The Foundry has already been and will continue to be advantageous for him and his family.”

The Foundry, Spring Newsletter 2020