Joseph is a veteran who served our nation well. Now retired and living on a meager fixed income in the small Appalachian community of Pine Ridge in McDowell County, West Virginia he struggles to keep food on the table and his bills paid each month.

There is no money left over for home repairs.

And that’s where we, with our grassroots partner there, Big Creek People in  Action (BCPIA), teams of volunteer college students came in.


Each spring, BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson pores over dozens of applications for the home rehabilitation program she oversees deciding which households are most in need in repair when she came across Joseph’s.

“There are so many things that need to be done to this home it was hard to decide where to start,” Marsha told us.

One of the first priorities was repairing the bathroom floor which appeared to be a relatively simple job of only having to replace the top floor.

“NOPE! No such luck,” she said. “When we got there tearing out the top floor we saw that subfloor was also rotted out. When we tore out the subfloor we saw the joists were rotten.”

Once they had the entire floor and joists out they realized that the walls were also rotten. And once they had those out they realized “the plumbing was a nightmare” and on top of that the pipes were lead.

“We are basically constructing him an entirely new bathroom,” Marsha said, replacing both the bathtub and the sink. “The only thing we were able to save was the toilet (even though we did have to buy a new seat for it). Thank goodness it hadn’t gone through the floor and busted!”

Three teams of college students began working under the supervisor of an experienced contractor worked on the house this past March.

In the first week of March a team from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey came in and did a lot of the demolition, followed by a second Rider team the following week which completed the demolition work and started on construction. Next up was a group of students from Notre Dame University which did the plumbing and more construction work.

All three groups also worked on the installing sheetrock and painting the house, as well as tearing out old rotting steps and installing new vinyl siding.

And that’s not all. In April, Marsha has scheduled a group from the First Parish Church of Duxbury, Massachusetts, and in May a group of students from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky who will be coming in to work on the steps and porch.

It’s no wonder why Marsha dubbed this house “the never-ending work project” as there is still much work to do in the bedroom and kitchen as well.

“We thought the project was going to take a week and we started at the first of March and we still have so much to do,” Marsha  said. “Some people may think we are doing too much for this one home, but I disagree. How much is ‘too much’ for someone that served our country?”

The story continues….

Find out more about our renovation projects.

Throughout Appalachia there are tens of thousands of children who have just returned to school who can’t see the blackboard clearly because of a lack of eyeglasses.

There are also millions of aging adults whose eyesight is gradually worsening affecting their ability to drive and even their livelihoods.

These boys and girls and men and women aren’t suffering from some serious eye condition more so than simple nearsightedness or farsightedness – either of which could be easily corrected with pair of prescription glasses.

What they are suffering from is poverty, and the lack of $65.

While government assistance such as Medicare or Medicaid will cover the cost of an eye exam, what it won’t pay for is the pair of glasses themselves.

This fall, Americans Helping Americans® will be assisting 155 needy children and working poor to obtain those all-important pair of glasses.

While $65 may not sound like much to most middle-class Americans, for those struggling to keep food on the table, pay their rent, keep the utilities on and keep current on their medications, a pair of glasses is way down on the list.

But a pair of glasses could make all the difference for an adult who could lose their job if they lose their driver’s license.

And as for the children, who may not even be aware of their own diminished vision, a pair of prescription glasses will open up a whole new world for them.

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