Four young children and their baby brother were living in an unheated basement with no electricity or running water with their mother, struggling with an illness, and their father who is disabled.
When Americans Helping Americans® partner Caring Hands Ministries in Cleveland, Georgia and its executive director Ann Fleming heard of their plight, they took action.
“These are the sweetest children, and very polite,” Ann told us, this despite the fact that their shoes and clothes had been ruined in bad weather.
Funding from Americans Helping Americans® which supports Caring Hands’ Neighbors Helping Neighbors program, helped pay for a safe place for them to stay – a motel as no shelter space was available – and provided them with food pantry assistance so they would have something to eat for the first time in two days. The children were also provided with new shoes and winter coats.
Thanks to your support of Americans Helping Americans® and our partnership with Caring Hands, our efforts together has resulted in work which the mother described with one word – “lifesaving.”
“I just prayed and prayed and called everyone, even if I couldn’t see them helping – and then all this happened,” the mother told Ann. “We will be okay.”
Ann cited the family’s story as just one example of “so much of what Americans Helping Americans® has helped us to do” and explained how this sad tale with a happy ending has resulted in much more good work in her community.
“Because we were able to help, thanks to Americans Helping Americans®, we were able to share their story with caring people who have helped further with more motel time and clothes and more food,” she said.
The mother was grateful for all the assistance for the family and that her prayers had been answered – but she had one more request of Ann.
“You find those people who fixed it so you could help and you tell them ‘thank you’ and you keep on telling them.”
Ann, who was more than happy to oblige, passed along her thanks to Americans Helping Americans® and today we pass that thanks on to you – our supporters who are the ones who are actually most deserving of her gratitude.
Without you, who knows what this family would’ve done with no other place to turn. And, thanks to you, we don’t have to wonder.
“Denny,” says Big Creek People in Action Extra Cool Afterschool program teacher Maria Frazier, is a fourth-grader who is “a joy to teach and always has a smile on his face.”
But he has had his ups and downs when it came to the quality of his school work. Denny is one of four children from “a decent but poor family” and it’s hard for his parents to give each of them the individual encouragement they need, Maria told us.
Denny in particular had trouble with spelling when he first entered the afterschool program, but with that one-on-one attention he went from failing tests to making perfect scores.
“We made a big deal over it and took his picture with his test and put it on the wall,” she said. “He was so proud.”
However, after that success, he began to show up saying he didn’t have any homework (which Maria knew was not true). So Maria had an idea – she began offering him a small prize or piece of candy when he would bring in his homework.
“Believe it or not, this worked!” Maria said. “Now Denny’s grades have improved and he usually has his homework out and ready before I even ask. Small things like this make my job rewarding.”
At Americans Helping Americans®, we believe it’s the small things such as finding an innovative way to provide youngsters with that tiny bit of encouragement to help them succeed that makes for much bigger and better things – and that makes our job so rewarding as well.
Thanks to your support, we are able to provide assistance to BCPIA’s Extra Cool Afterschool program and help to being there for “Denny” and so many others just like him.
On the morning of Wednesday, December 31, the last day of 2014, the low temperature in Cleveland, Georgia, where our partner Caring Hands Ministries is located was 29 degrees.
The forecast for the first week in January 2015 there also calls for low temperatures below freezing.
Imagine being a parent with young children, a senior citizen on a fixed income, or a disabled veteran, waking up on that subfreezing morning in a house with no heat or electricity.
Can you put yourself in the place of a person having to choose between putting food on their table or paying their rent so they don’t get evicted from their home in the middle of winter with no place to turn?
Between those two dire choices, paying a utility bill is a distant third.
But thanks you in 2014, we at Americans Helping Americans® were able to keep the lights on and the furnace running for hundreds of households in the most poverty-stricken regions of West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky through our emergency utility assistance program.
In addition to helping prevent those at risk from literally freezing to death in their own homes, keeping the power on in a house means a family can enjoy a warm meal and use portable electric heaters and electric blankets to keep them toasty warm inside no matter the temperature outside.
This past fall, we heard from Caring Hands Ministries executive director Ann Fleming who told us that our emergency utilities assistance funding kept the electricity on for one of their clients, suffering from cancer, who needs a respirator to survive and no electricity would mean no oxygen.
“That could have ended his life in hours,” Fleming told us.
But thanks to you, Fleming has saved a text on her phone that she received from the client after his overdue electric bill was paid before the company disconnected his service.
“We’re going to be all right now. We’re going to make it.”
On behalf of Brian, and hundreds of other households throughout the poorest regions of our country, we say thank you for helping them “make it” through another cold Appalachian winter.
Won’t you help make it a warm and happy new year for your fellow Americans so that they won’t have to make that terrible choice between food, shelter or heat or even life and death? Please give today…
In places such as War, West Virginia, Rogersville, Tennessee and Cleveland, Georgia, temperatures can hover around freezing during the months of January and February for days, or even weeks, at a time.
Now, try to put yourself in the place of a young boy or girl standing out at a bus stop on a cold, blustery winter’s day shivering in at best an old hand-me-down threadbare coat, and perhaps nothing more than a thin sweater or sweatshirt.
In the most poverty-stricken areas of Appalachia, that is far too often the case.
But, this year, in War, Rogersville and Cleveland, and several other locations, there are 1,145 children who are warm and comfortable in their brand-new coats provided by Americans Helping Americans® to our partner organizations including Big Creek People in Action, Of One Accord and Caring Hands Ministries and others. In addition, 700 children received pairs of gloves, scarves and warm winter hats.
Of course, we know adults, particularly the most senior of our nation’s citizens, need to stay warm too, so that why, through your generous assistance, Americans Helping Americans® has also been able to provide 990 coats for adults and 1,344 blankets to our partner organizations this winter season.
We believe that warm clothing on cold winter days is the best way to prevent colds and flu, and perhaps worse, and at Americans Helping Americans® that warms our hearts.
A little more than 30 miles south of Washington, D.C., there is a community named Triangle, Virginia. Located in Triangle, there is a large low-income apartment complex known as Melrose Apartments.
But besides being affordable, what may attract many families to choose to live there is its Melrose Community Resource Center (MCRC).
“They also have a community center which helps children who live in the complex with tutoring and other after-school activities,” wrote a resident there since May 2012 in a recent online review of the Melrose.
The after-school program at the MCRC is just one of many that Americans Helping Americans® helps support in low-income areas. This fall, Americans Helping Americans® had the opportunity to visit the center to see the operation in action.
And, boy was it. There were young teens getting their homework completed in the late afternoon with assistance from a local volunteer ready at their beck and call. And there were younger kids all around, several playing age-appropriate learning games in the center’s computer lab.
And then there were others, who just came by to hang out with friends, in a supervised environment, and enjoying an afternoon snack, instead of being a “latch-key” kid, going home to an empty apartment waiting for their parents to get home from work – or worse.
For many kids, such as those at the Melrose, or those who attend other after-school programs supported by Americans Helping Americans® partners around the country, it’s not a place they HAVE to go to, it’s a place where they WANT to be.
For us, knowing that is just another reason why we believe those few hours in the afternoon in a healthy, safe and educational environment makes all the difference in the lives of so many children and young people.
Life can take unexpected turns, but many in Appalachia lack the resources to prepare for these surprises.
One family we helped fell on hard times when their daughter had a stroke during her sixth month of her pregnancy. The family was living in a trailer with pieces of the floor missing, windows covered by cardboard to keep the rain from coming into the house and to keep the cold weather out. The parents, surviving only on their social security, were able to pay for the extensive medical bills with help from governmental assistance but were unable to pay a bill that is just as important, their heating bill.
It is a sad fact that some in Appalachia suffer through cold weather with little or no heat in order to assure other basic needs such as food and medical expenses are met, but what basic need would you choose to go without in desperate times?
The winter months are not over. All around the hollers and hills men, women, and children continue to brave the cold so that they can eat or go to the doctor. You can help take the worry of a monthly utility bill off of the minds of mothers and fathers dealing with much more than the issue of warmth in a home by contributing online or by mailing in your gift today!