Alexandria, Virginia – Americans Helping Americans® has awarded a $10,000 grant to Big Creek People in Action in McDowell County, West Virginia to support its home rehabilitation program.

Each year for the past several years, Americans Helping Americans® has partnered with Big Creek People in Action to provide necessary repairs to the homes of elderly and disabled homeowners who don’t have the means to pay for the repairs themselves.

Projects include repairing leaking roofs, fixing floors, porches and steps, replacing drywall and sheetrock, and building handicap ramps.

Generator roof

University of Richmond students working on a generator roof.

In many cases, without these repairs and ramps, the homeowner would not be able to remain in their home due to safety and/or access issues, according to Marsha Timpson, co-executive director of Big Creek People in Action.

To bring these repairs to fruition takes a three-way partnership: Big Creek People in Action vets and selects the beneficiaries and organizes the projects; groups from colleges and schools come to McDowell County for a week where they volunteer to put in long hours helping someone else in need; and Americans Helping Americans® which provides funding to purchase lumber, shingles and other material and supplies.

Beth Tessema, interim executive director of Americans Helping Americans®, noted that her organization cannot presume to identify the needs in communities such as McDowell County and relies on grassroots organizations such as Big Creek People in Action to determine best how to use grant funding provided by Americans Helping Americans®.

University of Richmond students tearing out old floor at the old cabin at Berwind Lake.

University of Richmond students tearing out old floor at the old cabin at Berwind Lake.

The mission of Americans Helping Americans® is to join communities, build and strengthen neighbor relations and work side-by-side with residents to address community-wide concerns and to link resources supportive of a healthy, safe and economically comparable standard of living.

“Our philosophy is to nurture inclusive communities, unite to create support networks and determine the necessary strategic actions to address chronic, but preventable, problems,” said Tessema.

This past March, dozens of students from colleges and universities such as the University of Notre Dame, the University of Richmond, Emory & Henry College, Rider University and Mars Hill University gave up a spring break on the beach to work long hours, at no pay, helping their fellow Americans in need.

They spent a week getting up early in the morning, and working all day painting homes, installing drywall, repairing floors, porches and stairs, and installing handicap ramps allowing the elderly and disabled residents the ability to enter and exit their house on their own.

Instead of sleeping in a beachfront hotel and eating in expensive restaurants, they slept in a bunk bed in dormitory room with their classmates, and had their supper cafeteria-style at the headquarters of Big Creek People In Action.

University of Richmond students installing sheetrock in Brandi Wright's old cabin at Berwind Lake. The cabin was built in 1856

University of Richmond students installing sheetrock in Brandi Wright’s old cabin at Berwind Lake. The cabin was built in 1856.

Specifically, these students tackled big jobs such as installing sheetrock in Brandi’s cabin at Berwind Lake – built in 1856 – and tore out the old floor. The University of Richmond students spent a week working on the cabin, and when the Emory & Henry students arrived they picked up where the University of Richmond students left off.

Notre Dame students sealed off a trailer roof with cool seal for Nathan, one of our nation’s veterans, in the community of Coalwood.

In the town of Bradshaw, homeowner Wallace was so grateful for the work the students from Notre Dame were doing on his house that he treated them all to pizza for lunch.

Meanwhile, another group of students from Notre Dame repaired a bathroom floor for Mike, another U.S. military veteran, and his wife, Donna, in John’s Branch, where they are raising four of their grandchildren.

Americans Helping Americans® is proud to be part of this team of students dedicated to helping others, and BCPIA, which organizes the volunteer groups, by providing funding to purchase the supplies and materials necessary to make the repairs.

For more information about Americans Helping Americans® please visit www.helpingamericans.org.