The Appalachian Poverty Project
There have been some interesting developments in recent months.
1. We have developed a relationship with Liberty Transportation. They have been supplying us with appliances and mattresses. As a result, we have been consistently exceeding our short range goal of 10 units per month. We have also been receiving 10-15 mattress sets per month.
2. Some volunteers have come forth to help with distribution of fliers. These ladies are with Gamma Sigma Sigma at McDaniel College.
3. Another volunteer will help us with some administrative tasks. Also with Gamma Sigma Sigma
4. My wife Marie and I recently made our third trip to Kentucky for the purpose of meeting with the president of Kentucky H.O.P.E, Mr Charles Saunders. We now have a clearer picture of how we can best interface our respective organizations. We learned of the significant need for bedding and that there was prison labor available to clean the appliances that we send. (This relieves us of considerable burden)
We also met a lovely lady there named Rhonda – more about her later.
5. I have been in contact with a pastor in Cucumber, WV. He serves a very impoverished Appalachian area and needs help. I hope that we may be able to assist him. Unlike Kentucky H.O.P.E. he has limited volunteer resources. I will be visiting him in the Spring with hopes of arranging a mission trip to rehab some homes.
6. There may be property available near Bluefield, WV. If the development costs are not prohibitive, we would like to build a volunteer housing center there.
7. We haved reached the 100 mark for appliances. Small appliances (microwaves, window ac’s) have not been counted – mattress sets are nearing 50.
Last summer Marie and I took 6 other folks to Kentucky to help the volunteers there to organize their thrift store. We worked hard but didn’t make the kind of impact that we had hoped. The thrift store is an old furniture store and is extremely crowded. Each week a tractor/trailer arrives completely filled with donated material and is required to be unloaded in about two hours. This is further complicated by the fact that they never know exactly when the tractor/trailer will arrive. It is total chaos.
When we visited recently, we found that the entire second floor was neat, orderly and well organized. We also met the lady who was responsible for this monumental task.
Her name is Rhonda.
Rhonda’s family are coal miners like many of the people in rural Appalachia. She has lost her father and grandfather in separate mining accidents. Both of her brothers have been permanently disabled in separate mining accidents. Rhonda is raising her children and caring for both of her brothers. She also volunteers at the mission 25-30 hours a week and is “on-call” to help unload the weekly arrival of donations.
Most of us, myself included, can only imagine how she could cope with the tragedies in her life, let alone have anything left to give to others. She, however, does not consider her losses as unusual or particularly tragic-only typical of life in coal country. She sees only God’s blessings and tries to live her life as a blessing to others.