Joan is an amputee who is described by our partner in Cleveland, Tennessee, Ocoee Outreach, as having “a precious spirit” and who desperately a new handicap ramp to allow her to get in and out of her home on her own.
With grant funding provided by Americans Helping Americans® to purchase the lumber, a volunteer team serving with Ocoee Outreach from the Middle Baptist Association in Slyvania, Georgia, which provided free labor, Joan can now enter and exit her home independently.

She had struggled for two years to get in and out of her home, usually calling the EMT’s to get her out when she had to go to the doctor.

But now her life has been transformed.

“I am so excited just to be able to get out and take a ride,” she told us. Watch her appreciation below:

Volunteers and our partner Ocoee Outreach are helping to rehab and repair home in Cleveland, Tennessee. The team gathers together to repair roofs, replace windows, flooring and siding, paint, and construct wheelchair ramps. Some even do specialized interior work.

Most of the clients are elderly, disabled, or suffering from health problems. Some are families with children living in desperate circumstances.

Ocoee’s mission is to rehabilitate enough homes that it gives them the shelter and community identity which they need.

This summer 1,500 volunteers that will work to rehabilitate about 80 homes.

 

 

The volunteers provided the labor. We provide cash grant funding to buy the necessary lumber, shingles and other materials to do the work.

The average materials cost per house is $1,500. There are over 80 homes on the renovation list, so every bit of support from the supporters of Americans Helping Americans helps.

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.

Summer means vacation, outdoor time, swimming, extra time at home or maybe camp, notes Americans Helping Americans® partner in Cleveland, Georgia, Ann Fleming of Caring Hands Ministries.

“But for some families in our area summer means a very hard time,” Ann told us.

The Georgia Mountain Food Bank, located in nearby Gainesville, reports that even with summer programs more than 80 percent of the children and teens who get a free breakfast and lunch during the school year do not have that help in the summer and are in need of food help.

And that’s where Americans Helping Americans® and our supporters come in.

“Each year for the past four years Americans Helping Americans® has reached out to these families through Caring Hands Ministries,” said Ann. “This year, Americans Helping Americans® send Caring Hands Ministries boxes of food to share with families who need extra food help and cannot go regularly to the feeding sites.”

More than 180 boxes of non-perishable food items, containing enough food to feed a family of four for a week, have already been provided to families served by Caring Hands Ministries in seven northeast Georgia counties.

Although Americans Helping Americans® has provided frozen sandwiches in the past for families, we have come to learn that some families don’t have refrigeration in their homes and cannot use them, even though their children are hungry.

“I gave them to a neighbor, but my girls were hungry,” reported one mother after her refrigerator broke.

“This year’s boxes will prevent that kind of problem and will also be better for families who may be homeless,” commented Caring Hands President Charles Fleming, adding that since the food is canned and packaged it does not require refrigeration and can be used by a family any time during the month where there is a need.

 

 

 

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.

This week begins the home repair season for Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA) in McDowell County, West Virginia.

Americans Helping Americans® has recently sent seed funding to BCPIA towards the initial purchase of the building supplies they would need such as lumber, drywall, paint, roofing materials and more. But the need is great, and we are hoping to send $10,000 in the coming weeks.

Beginning March 5, and continuing into October, 25 groups of volunteers from colleges and universities such as the University of Notre Dame, the University of Richmond, Emory & Henry College, Ryder University, Mars Hill College, Centre College as well as numerous church groups will descend into the tiny community of War for a week at time doing repairs for homeowners in need.

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An estimated 350 people will be volunteering this year to work on about 40 homes benefiting more than 200 people.

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BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson said the average cost of repairs to a house is between $500 and $700 with on some occasions allocating up to $3,000 for a single job.

“We do not necessarily limit what can be spent on one home,” Timpson said. “We try to complete any projects to correct health and safety hazards on a home, dependent on volunteers and funding. Sometimes, we may not do every project that a homeowner wants so that we can serve other people that need the services also. We have the lowest quality of housing in the state, so the need is tremendous.”

She also explained that in addition to giving of their time, the volunteers also contribute for their own lodging and supplies — $250 per person per week for church groups and $25 per person per night for college groups.

“The supply budget really varies with each group and what they can come up with,” she said. “It can be anywhere from $200 to $2,000.”

Timpson said some groups, especially the college groups, bring plenty of volunteers – as many as two dozen or so – but not enough funds to keep all the members of the group busy. Funding from Americans Helping Americans® helps to supplement the cost for materials and alleviate the problem of someone having a half-finished bathroom for several weeks while waiting for another group to come in to finish the project.

BCPIA headquarters is located in a former high school with the third floor dedicated to dormitories where the volunteers stay during their week there.

“Much of this fee goes toward the upkeep of the dormitories,” Timpson said. “There is a tremendous amount of laundry and cleaning to do when the groups are here. The majority of them cook their own meals, but sometimes there is a group that asks that we cook the evening meal for them. They pay us $10 to $12 per person for this meal.”

Some of the projects identified by BCPIA that they will be working on this season are:

  • a house in Welch with five 5 adults, 3 who are disabled, and 2 children, 1 of whom is disabled. BCPIA will be installing sheetrock in a bedroom and painting the walls;
  • a house in Warriormines with 2 adults and 2 children, 1 of the adults and 1 of the children are disabled. BCPIA will be installing sheetrock in the home and doing repairs on some floors; and,
  • replacing a bathroom floor at a home in Johns Branch lived in by two disabled adults and four children.

Even averaging repairing 40 homes each year still leaves many remaining on a waiting list of at least 100 more, according to Timpson.

Those whose homes have been repaired are grateful for the assistance.

“I want to say thank you to Big Creek People In Action and Sidwell Friends for all their hard work. You have truly been a blessing. We are very pleased with how everything looks. You have done a wonderful job. Greatly appreciated the young people and the respect they showed by my husband and I. We were blessed to have been able to get to know these people, so a BIG thank you.”

“I greatly appreciate the ramp you all built for me. You really did a great job. Everyone was really great. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

”I want to thank the Big Creek People In Action for sending the Christ United Methodist Church people from Yorkana, Pennsylvania to my house in Berwind, West Virginia. They put shingles on my roof and built me a whole new porch so I will be able to take my husband outside. My husband had a massive stroke and a aneurism in December, 2010, which left him paralyzed on his left side. I am so pleased with the work they did, they were all so nice and sweet and friendly. I can’t begin to say how much I appreciate these good people. I hope the Lord Blesses each and every one of them as much as he has Blessed us. Once again, thanks for all the help.”

And on behalf of the thousands supporters of Americans Helping Americans® who have new roofs, floors and handicap ramps, and the hundreds more who will receive assistance this year, we thank you for making it possible.

Imagine living in house – the place you and your family call home – with a roof that leaks, floors that sag or worse, and in a condition that can only be described as squalid.

Or perhaps the homeowner is elderly, possibly a veteran who has served our country with dignity and honor, but today cannot get in or out of their house without assistance due to a lack of a handicap ramp.

homerepair_graphic

Then ask why?

When there is barely enough money to put food on the table, keep the lights on, and other more immediate, pressing needs such as medication, making repairs to their home – the only thing they own of any value – comes in at a distant last.

Throughout Appalachia, volunteers are giving up a week of their vacation thinking of, and working to help, strangers hundreds of miles from their home, in tandem with grassroots organizations located in hard-hit communities in McDowell County, West Virginia, and Hawkins and Jefferson counties in Tennessee.

These organizations, Big Creek People in Action, Of One Accord, and Appalachian Outreach, respectively, identify those homeowners most needing help with home repairs in the communities, and organize groups of volunteers who come in to do the work.

That’s where Americans Helping Americans® – and you – come in.

Together, we are able to supply the critical funding to purchase shingles for new roofs, lumber for ramps and flooring, drywall for interior repairs, and more. Without this funding, these homes might not get repaired…this month…or even this year.

This month, while those Americans helping Americans are hammering nails, painting walls, and making general repairs, we will tell you of the true, and dire need in Appalachia today.

And we at Americans Helping Americans® hope to be able to continue to do our part – with your assistance – to keep the hammers hammering, the shingles being placed and the paint flowing.

We will not be asking you to climb a ladder or work sweating outside all day, but we will ask you to pick up a pen and write a check, or simpler still, click on the donate button.

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In the upcoming weeks, you will see that it’s not just about making a home repair – but something much more valuable, restoring respect and pride in ownership.

Summer is here, and for many high school and college age students, part of their vacation is spent helping needy homeowners in Appalachia by volunteering to work during the sweltering months of June, July and August repairing homes. The nails they hammer, the paint they roll, the wooden floor planks they cut to size, the roof shingles they staple on…are provided by you. Thanks!

Generally, working in groups of two dozen or so organized by their school or church groups, the young people spread out to West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, working with our partner organizations, to assist in the renovations of homes in need of repair, but with the homeowner having no means to pay to fix leaking roofs, sagging porches or to build a handicap ramp.

To make this happen requires partnership – the grassroots organizations who select and vet the recipients, who must own the home; the dedicated volunteers giving of their time and efforts; Americans Helping Americans® which provides grant funding for the purchase of materials such as shingles, drywall and lumber; and, of course, you, who make that funding available.

None of us could do it alone, it takes all of us with a common mission to transform unsafe and unliveable housing, with possibly even life-threating deficiencies – such as no way for residents to exit in case of a fire or structural collapse – into a home the owner can be proud of.