In 2017, Americans Helping Americans® initiated a pilot program to help bridge the digital divide for students attending Beattyville Elementary School, in hard hit Lee County, Kentucky, providing 30 of those most in need with all-in-one desktop computers.
With the overwhelming success of the program, and the great need for children to be able to access the internet at home to do their homework and communicate with their teachers when school is closed due to inclement weather, thanks to our supporters, we have been able to continue the program each year.
This December, instead of desktop computers, 35 students who were selected by our partner, Sherry Lanham, director of the Lee County Family Resource Center located in the school, in consultation with the schools’ faculty, to receive laptop computers.
In addition, all the school’s fourth and fifth graders wrote letters explaining why they needed a computer at home and how they would use it to help them with their school work and in everyday life.
“Today, Principal Carol Napier and I presented 30 students with new computers,” reported Sherry. “These students and parents worked very hard and were very excited to get their new computers.
“I wish every student could have gotten a computer because all of them did a great job on their letters and request. The grant has been provided to the Family Resource Center by Americans Helping Americans® and over the past few years and we have been able to give out approximately 100 computers.”
“A big shout out and “Thank You” to Americans Helping Americans® Executive Director Cameron Krizek and the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® for once again approving our Digital Divide grant.
“This makes several years that I have been able to get this grant and I know it has made many children very happy.”
For Americans Helping Americans® partner Big Creek People in Action, which operates a home rehab program in the summer in McDowell County, West Virginia, replacing leaking roofs are challenging, and expensive.
“You need to know what you are going to do or you can really make a mess of someone’s roof,” says BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson. “We do try to do at least one a year but it is so hard to pick out the person that is going to benefit from it. I think everyone in McDowell County needs a new roof and bathroom floor!”
This summer, she chose Earl and Denise’s house, which was leaking so badly on the backside that it was beginning to destroy the ceilings and some walls inside. Even if it was repaired soon, “there was going to be a great deal of damage from it.”
Marsha knew she was tackling a big job that would take several weeks of volunteers from churches and colleges and things were going according to plan, until one of her work supervisors was injured and was off work for quite some time.
“This really put a kink in our roofing plans since he was the one who was supervising the project,” she said. “I felt so bad about leaving this roof in limbo and not having the sides closed in because that rain could just blow right in.
Finally, a group of college students arrived and were able to finish the job just in time before the first snowfall.
Marsha said she likes watching a show called Maine Cabin Masters and they are always talking about having to get a roof on before the first snowfall and talking about how the roof would “button up” the house for winter.
“Now I know exactly how they feel!!! I now refer to their house as “The Button House.”
Christmas day is expected to be as low as 38 degrees with rain forecast for the entire week after. This certainly was nothing short of a Christmas miracle for Earl and Denise.
Bob is a single dad who had been unemployed while struggling to care for his young son.
He was eager to find a job and work, but did not have proper clothes to go to job interviews, and could not even afford to put gas in his car to look for work. Plus, one of his tires was flat and needed to be replaced.
Bob did not think he had anywhere to turn for help, until he learned of Americans Helping Americans® partner in Cleveland, Georgia, Caring Hands Ministry.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, Bob was able to receive a small financial grant from Caring Hands which enabled him to purchase the necessary clothes, replace his tire and put a tank of gas in his car.
“This particular dad had lost his job because of problems with his vehicle,” reported Caring Hands executive director Lafaye Murphy. “He got the car fixed and we were able to give him some leads on jobs. We provided him with gas money so he could go look for a job.”
Within a short time, Bob was offered a job working in a local restaurant – but there was a catch, he needed a new pair of non-slip shoes.
“When he got a job, we were able to buy him the necessary shoes that his job required,” said Lafaye. “He still has his job and the father and son are doing well.”
Lafaye noted that without the grant funding provided to Caring Hands, Bob may have still been unemployed to this day, but thanks to the generosity of the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® all it took was a few dollars to get this hard-working single dad back on his feet, and in a brand-new pair of shoes his job required.
At Beattyville, Kentucky, Elementary School, Lee Country Family Resource Center director Sherry Lanham has seen it all – students coming to school in the dead of winter with a just a sweatshirt or thin sweater to keep them warm.
This fall, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® every child in grades K-5 (and some in grades 6-8) was able to receive a heavy winter coat provided by Americans Helping Americans®.
“The coats were such a valuable gift our students,” said resource center director Sherry Lanham. “One girl was still wearing the one she had gotten last year from Americans Helping Americans® even though it was clearly too small for her now.
“She has very little heat in her home and she and her brother sleep in their coats at night,” Sherry added. “She was overjoyed to get a new coat.
More than 80 percent of the children who attend Beattyville Elementary, where the resource center is located, are living at the poverty level and many never receive a new coat – other than the ones provided by Americans Helping Americans®.
“Winters in Kentucky can be very cold and snowy and without these coats many of our children would have been waiting for buses in the cold and bad weather. These coats were truly a blessing.”
In Tennessee, Diane’s husband passed away after a long illness earlier this year. She and her husband had come to our partner Appalachian Outreach for help with repairs to their home and basic necessities such as food and clothing provided by Americans Helping Americans®.
“We developed a friendship with this sweet couple,” said Appalachian Outreach Ministry Coordinator Karrie Foust. “When Diane comes in now we like to take some extra time with her to talk and see how she is doing.”
During a recent visit, Karrie presented her with a new blanket to keep her warm at home.
“She was so happy when we gave her one of the blankets we received from Americans Helping Americans®,” said Karrie.
With Christmas coming up, Diane told Karrie, “Now that I am by myself I don’t have anyone to give me presents. Thank you very much for time and for being so nice when I come here.”
“We don’t always realize how something so small can make someone’s day,” reported Karrie. “Thank you Americans Helping Americans® for providing these items for us to share with our families.”
With the holiday season upon us, families across the country are looking forward to large family gatherings and dinners featuring, of course, a great big turkey in the center of the table.
This year, more than 6,500 needy residents in the distressed Appalachian regions of West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia will benefit from cash grants to our partners to provide turkey meals to individuals and frozen turkeys to families in need.
For many of these families, such as McDowell County, West Virginia, the choice is to splurge on a holiday dinner, or not blow their grocery budget for the week.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® each year at this time we are able to provide grant funding to our partners such as Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA) which hosts holiday parties for community members and distributes turkeys and meal boxes for holiday dinners.
“Many of these families wouldn’t spend the extra money to buy a turkey because of all their other expenses at Christmas,” says BCPIA co-executive director Dyanne Spriggs. “It is a comforting feeling to know that we are able to help them have a good Christmas and lasting memories.”