Since 1980, a group of teens and adults has traveled annually to one of the poorest communities in the U.S – Booneville, Kentucky – to engage in construction-type work on homes desperately in need of repair, renovation, or addition.
In late June, approximately 40 – 60 people depart in a caravan of donated minivans, pickup trucks, and SUVs packed with tools, food, and sleeping bags for the 11 day service trip. The group works with a local coordinator, who compiles a list of construction projects requested by area residents. The projects vary but tend to include renovations, new rooms, roof repairs, porches, or ramps for accessibility and safety. All of the tools and most of the food needed for the trip are contributed by participants, which allows the majority of the fundraising money to support the purchase of building materials from local Kentucky suppliers. Only a small portion of the funds are allocated for food and accommodations – no one goes hungry, but the meals are simple yet delicious after a day of hard work!
Starting in late March/early April, the group meets weekly to plan and prepare for the trip. It’s a self-led, self-sufficient group that relies heavily on volunteerism – everyone has a say in the process and contributes their ideas and enthusiasm. Each member is required to contribute $150.00, in addition to participating in fundraisers. However, no one is excluded for financial hardship.
Over the past thirty nine years the Appalachia program has proven to be an invaluable experience for our youth and young adults. Many of the adults that help supervise began participating when they were in high school. The trip reinforces and promotes teamwork, responsibility, patience, and – most importantly – an unselfish willingness to give of oneself to another. These are the values we want our young people to develop, and these are the values we are called to live in our Christian faith.
Anyone who has completed their freshman year of high school is eligible to participate. If you have any questions, check out our website here or contact our leaders for more information!
Katharine Conroy (firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-510-3283)
Erin Weidman (email@example.com) or
Stephen Gueble (firstname.lastname@example.org)