The “digital divide” is the difference between the “haves” and the “have nots” – those children who have computers and broadband access at home, and those who do not. Computers and broadband internet access at home and is a matter of concern of educators who more and more are requiring students have internet access to be able to do their homework, and parents who simply cannot afford it.

It’s also a concern to us here at Americans Helping Americans®.

To remedy that situation in Beattyville, Kentucky Americans HelpingAmericans® has launched a pilot project in partnership with Beattyville Elementary School and AT&T to help bridge the digital divide which exists in the community.

Over the Christmas holiday, and in many cases on Christmas day, about two dozen students unwrapped a big box containing a brand-new HP 20 All-in-One PC. The school system is licensed to install grade appropriate educational software to compliment what is taught in the classroom and AT&T has agreed to provide high-speed internet for less than $20 per month based on the family’s income.

Sherry Lanham, director of the Lee County Family Resource Center located in the school, oversees the program and selected only responsible parents who are available to monitor their children when they are using the computer at home.

For these fortunate two dozen children and their parents who could never afford to purchase a computer on their own, no matter how basic or relatively inexpensive, it was a Christmas they will never forget.

Among them was Crystal, an honor roll student whose parents both work and try to provide for her. The are supportive of her attending every school event and give back to their community through volunteer work, but are often overlooked because they never ask for anything.

“The parents and children were both in shock and disbelief that they were receiving such a gift,” reported Sherry.

Sisters Helen and Anna haven’t had it easy since their father was killed while serving in the armed forces in Iraq and their mother lost her job of 10 years after the company she was working for closed its doors.

“Christmas was a very difficult time,” commented Sherry, but the new computer brought a bit of joy into their life. “The girls loved the computer and as you can see by their smiles they are very happy.”

And then there’s Taylor, an honor roll student who became very close to his grandfather after his father left him and his mother when he was only a baby. However, despite being an excellent student and always remains positive, the unexpected sudden death of his grandfather hit him very hard.

“His one wish on his Christmas list was a computer,” said Sherry. “So when the mom told me about this I made sure he received one. His mom said this gift made their Christmas.”

Bridging the digital divide and providing enhanced educational opportunities for bright children eager to learn was only made possible through the compassion and generosity of people like you – the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®. The fact that it also granted Christmas wishes is icing on the cake.
 

Before the Fourth of July, many parents in Rogersville, Tennessee were already thinking about the upcoming school year. Not that they would be glad to have their kids back in class and no longer underfoot at home, but worrying how they would outfit them for school, according to Americans Helping Americans® partner there, Sheldon Livesay of Of One Accord.

“Since the first of July, families began coming to our front desk or office letting us know they were under crisis conditions this summer and really needed help with school supplies,” Sheldon told us. That prompted him to plan what he called a “Back to School Bash” on Saturday, August 8, to provide clients, their families and children with the supplies they would need to be prepared on the very first day of school. “We are, in our opinion, seeing greater needs in low income Appalachia families than ever before,” said Sheldon, who incorporated Of One Accord in 1990.

But Sheldon wanted to do much more that simply distribute much-needed school supplies – he wanted it to be a “bash” in the truest sense of the word. And that it was.

“The event was not just promoted as a back-pack distribution, but a summer fun time to say thanks to those clients who with interact with all year,” he said. “Everyone that participated and those that attended chimed in saying this was a great event and they greatly and deeply thankful to Americans Helping Americans® for your help and investments in Appalachia,” Sheldon told us.

And we are greatly and deeply thankful to you, generous supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, who made the “Back to School Bash” possible. We are also grateful to Sheldon for providing us with some wonderful photographs of the event, which we are happy to be able to share with you.

“These photos don’t properly convey the facts when looking at the families as a whole,” Sheldon says. “It is very evident both from the cars they arrive in to the clothing they wear, that they are in financial struggle every day.” That may be so, but what these photos do convey is the joy, pride and hope in the hearts of these young people who know that there are Americans helping Americans across the country who truly care about them, and are willing to invest in their future.

Watch our slideshow below to see what you helped make possible!

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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.

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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.

GreatNonprofitsGreatNonprofits is a place to find trustworthy nonprofits – such as Americans Helping Americans®

To do that they rely on reviews from the general public, donors, volunteers, clients and professionals with expertise in the field.

Americans Helping Americans® is proud to be a five-star Top-Rated Nonprofit for 2013, and we want to retain that rating for 2014.

Please help by going to http://greatnonprofits.org/org/americans-helping-americans and submitting your review sharing your experiences with Americans Helping Americans®.

Here’s what a few of our reviewers had to say:

Afchmi, professional with expertise in the field – Oct. 2, 2014:
“Americans Helping Americans® found us in 2010 and has helped greatly in providing both funds and in-kind materials that have enabled us to at least double the number of people we have been able to help. They have also offered much positive feedback and encouragement. These people really care.”

joesmom, general member of the public – Oct. 2, 2014:
“My son was afraid to go to school. Last year, he kept getting in school suspension and punishments because he did not have the supplies the school said he had to have and because his shoes had rips in them. I want my kids to have everything but food and a place to stay has got to be the first thing. Then my neighbor read in the paper that this Americans Helping Americans® had sent a lot of school supplies and back packs for the kids here and the place that got them was giving them away. They had everything he needed. They even had shoes! Nice new shoes. I just broke down and cried. They even told me that this Americans Helping Americans® place was sending them sandwiches the next week and I could have some of those too. I almost couldn’t believe it. Somebody cares. My son got in that school bus and he was smiling, really smiling. You helped to change my son. He is liking school this year and not afraid.”

Pdog, general member of the public – Oct. 29, 2013:
“I have supported Americans Helping Americans® for years. They go into the communities where help is needed the most and support grassroots efforts that are already underway in those communities. In doing this, they are helping the communities to help themselves. It isn’t a handout. It is building up of the communities that are in trouble and making them stronger from the inside out.”

AmandaGA, client served – Oct. 21, 2013:
“My kids got coats. It was 25 degrees that night. We got blankets too at [Americans Helping Americans® partner organization] Caring Hands Ministries [in Cleveland, Georgia]. They said [Americans Helping Americans®] sent them. God bless you.”

I Stand in the Gap, volunteer – Oct. 4, 2013:
“I have helped unload and distribute items provided by Americans Helping Americans® — food, blankets, etc. – for those in need in the North Georgia area. I’ve also been a recipient of their veterans’ food boxes when times were tough. Americans Helping Americans® serves a great need in our community, and I am glad to support their work!”

New Shoes

It was a warm, sunny Thursday afternoon in August, but it may as well have been Christmas day for about a dozen of youngsters in London, Kentucky, who received a brand-new pair of shoes through our partner there, Come-Unity Cooperative Care, with funding from Americans Helping Americans®’ Barefeet program.

The children, aged from about 3 to 8, seemed almost stunned when they came in with their moms and dads to the locally-owned shoe store and were told they could pick out any pair of shoes they wanted. This posed quite a dilemma for several of them – which to select from an entire wall of Nikes or Adidas, quality shoes that should last the entire school year.

While most ended up choosing the most colorful, coolest sneakers, one young boy selected a pair of sturdy work boots, perhaps similar to what his father might wear on the job, seemingly in the knowledge that they’ll keep his feet warm in the cold winter months.

While some could not wait to wear their new shoes out of the store, others kept theirs in the shoe box, apparently saving them for that very special first day of school.

During the several minutes it took to have the shoes selected, fitted and proper size in hand, the expression on faces of the children, to a one, transformed from shock and disbelief to that of what can only be described as “sheer joy.”

When it was all said and done, each of the children and their parents made a point of saying “thank you” to the representatives from Come-Unity Cooperative Care and Americans Helping Americans®.

Today, we pass their sincere gratitude on to you, our generous donors, as it is you who made that day possible, a day those children will likely not forget for years to come. And when that time comes when they do outgrow those shoes, they will become hand-me-downs that their younger siblings will eager to receive.

 

CFC

CFC

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is now underway! The CFC is the only authorized solicitation of federal employees in their workplace on behalf of approved charitable organizations.

If you are a federal employee, please consider designating your gift to Americans Helping Americans® by selecting CFC #11962.

Learn more about our valuable programs in the Appalachian region and other urban areas at or contact us at info@helpingamericans.org for more information. 

cfcNot a federal employee? Please help by forwarding this email to your family, friends and colleagues that work for the federal government.

We thank you for your support!

Patriot Day

Thank you for supporting Americans in needSeptember 11, 2001, will be remembered throughout history as the day in which the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil occurred. Today, September 11 is not only a day to remember the innocent men, women and children who perished that day, and the heroic first responders who gave their lives saving others, but also a day of service to our fellow Americans – something supporters of Americans Helping Americans® strive to do every day.

On last year’s Patriot Day, President Obama urged all Americans to live up to the selfless example of the heroes who gave of themselves in the face of such great evil and to observe a National Day of Service and Remembrance by uniting in the same extraordinary way as the nation did in the days, weeks and months following the attacks.

“Like the Americans who chose compassion when confronted with cruelty, we can show our love for one another by devoting our time and talents to those in need,” President Obama stated.

On behalf of Americans Helping Americans®, our partner organizations in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, and, of course, those who struggle in poverty day-in-and-day-out trying to make a better life for themselves and their families, I thank you.

In remembrance, service and gratitude,

Eugene Krizek
Eugene Krizek, Col. USAF (Ret.)
President and Volunteer Spokesperson
Americans Helping Americans®

Home Rehabilitation

Best of luck and safe travels for all the great volunteer groups working on Americans Helping Americans® sponsored home repair projects this summer! Last year we were able to help make over 800 homes safer and this year we hope to do even more!

shower

Often times residents in Appalachia do not have the money or ability to make basic housing repairs and their homes can become unsafe, such as this moldy shower. Luckily, we have some great volunteer groups working on Americans Helping Americans® sponsored home repair projects this summer! Your support brings safe and healthy environments (and pride) to hundreds in Appalachia!

building a ramp

An Americans Helping Americans® sponsored work crew helps install a wheelchair ramp.