Inspiring hope and service through volunteer home repair in Central Appalachia.
Describe the need affecting community
Central Appalachia is one of the United State’s most impoverished regions. Appalachia Service Project believes that affordable, safe, sanitary housing is a basic human right. Diverse as it is vast, the region of Appalachia has an ever changing, resilient face of industry. Once highly dependent on mining, forestry, agriculture, and chemical industries, the region has become more diversified in recent times, and now includes trades such as manufacturing, adventure tourism, and professional service industries. Appalachia has come a long way in the last fifty years; its poverty rate, 31 percent in 1960, dropped to 17 percent in 2009. The number of high-poverty counties in the region (those with poverty rates more than 1.5 times the U.S. average) declined from 295 in 1960 to 90 over the 2009–2013 period . But despite progress, Appalachia still does not experience the same economic vitality as the rest of the nation. Central Appalachia in particular still battles economic distress, with concentrated areas of high poverty, unemployment, poor health, and severe educational disparities. Southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky in particular have lost 38,000 coal jobs since 1983, as mining has become increasingly automated in recent decades, particularly as companies have shifted to controversial techniques such as mountaintop removal mining, which are less labor intensive and more harmful to the environment. These economic factors are just some the reasons our work in the region is critical and we will continue serving these communities until substandard housing in Central Appalachia is eradicated.
How will this Advance project help to address the need?
Appalachia Service Project will address the need for high-impact home repair in the Central Appalachian region by recruiting and deploying youth, adult, and college volunteers that will complete the repairs in partnership with the communities in which ASP serves, and with the families that need the critical repairs.Our philosophy of service has remained the same since our founding: ASP encourages people to act responsibly in the face of human need and injustice. By transforming faith into ASP service, volunteers respond to a specific need: housing. By putting aside their own needs and desires, ASP volunteers free themselves to share talent, love, and concern with the people of Appalachia and with one another. More important than construction know-how is a willingness to enter the communities and homes of Central Appalachia with sensitivity, concern, and love — accepting people right where they are and just the way they are. ASP “staffers” are college-aged young adults, who will work with community partners, such as local churches, non-profits, and businesses in the areas we serve to get connected with the families that need the critical repairs. Staffers are trained in volunteer management, budget management, construction management, spiritual programming, and more, and will run the ASP centers in the field that volunteers travel to and stay in. ASP currently serves 4 communities year round (Chavies, KY, Guyan Valley, WV, Jonesville, VA, and Tri-Cities, TN), and around 25-30 communities during the summer, when ASP has a large influx of youth volunteers.
Describe the primary goal of the project
Appalachia Service Project is a Christian ministry, open to all people, that inspires hope and service through volunteer home repair in Central Appalachia. ASP has a vision that substandard housing in Central Appalachia will be eradicated and that everyone who comes into contact with this ministry will be transformed.
Describe the change you would like to see in the community as a result of this Advance project
Ultimately ASP aims to see substandard housing completely eradicated in Central Appalachia.