Winter has arrived in the mountains and hollows of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and Tennessee, and elsewhere throughout Appalachia. Thanks to the loyal supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, thousands of children, families, and seniors are prepared. Because of our emergency utility assistance program, hundreds of households who have fallen on hard times this year will receive the extra “hand-up” they need to keep the heat and lights on. In some cases, with families who live in public housing, the program not only prevents them from having their power disconnected, but it saves them from being automatically evicted and becoming homeless. Also this winter, there are homeowners who are safe and warm in the homes they love because of Americans Helping Americans’® home rehabilitation program.
Last winter in Gainesville, Georgia, a grandmother raising four grandchildren lost her job because she had no one to look after her youngest grandchild.
Subsequently she was forced to live in her car because she could not pay her utility bills and her electricity was disconnected.
But with a grant provided by Americans Helping Americans® for emergency utility assistance, our partner there, LAMP Ministries, was able to get her utilities back on and move back into her apartment, as well as find affordable child care for her grandchild so she was able to get her job back.
Working with small grassroots charities who organize volunteers of church and school groups, dozens of roofs are repaired, and drywall and siding are installed. In the case of the elderly and disabled, handicap ramps are built, which allow these individuals, many of whom are veterans, to get in and out of their house no matter the weather outside.
And then there are the children. We can’t bear to think of them standing out at bus stops on cold dark mornings in threadbare hand-me-down coats, or worse, only ragged sweaters and sweatshirts. Because of your generosity, this winter, 4,000 children have received heavy winter coats in their choice of a multitude of colors, which for many of them is their very first brand-new coat. In addition, to help ensure these children are snug in their beds at night, we have also distributed thousands of heavy winter blankets to families so that they will be warm during the harsh winter months.
Each year for more than 20 years, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we have been able to ensure that thousands of children, parents and seniors have a nice turkey meal with all the trimmings over the holiday season.
Among our partners who hosts holiday meals is Big Creek People in Action in distressed McDowell County, West Virginia, which served a total of 962 people last year including 388 children, 574 adults, 90 female heads of households, 162 senior citizens and 20 veterans, according to BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson.
“McDowell County is listed as the most food insecure county in West Virginia with more than 22 percent of residents struggling to find a consistent stream of meals. We served many of these people with a turkey as well as a food box and gifts.
“As each year passes with these parties, I seem to become more sentimental about them. I caught my self looking around at each of the parties (we have three parties in one day) and thinking how we are so intertwined with the families that we were serving for Christmas. The ties that bind us together!”
This year, the holiday is fast approaching and with your help our goal is to more than 6,500 people in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia by providing BCPIA and our other partners with grant funding in order to enable them to purchase the turkeys and food boxes in their own communities, thereby supporting the local economy.
“Many of these families wouldn’t spend the extra money to buy a turkey because of all their other expenses at Christmas,” Marsha continued. “It is a comforting feeling to know that we are able to help them have a good Christmas and lasting memories.”
Please help us ensure that these thousands have a happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas this year by giving what you can today.
“Everything is free” at Americans Helping Americans® partner Appalachian Outreach’s “Back-to-School Bash” in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
“This is a fun community event to help kick off the school year,” explained Appalachian Outreach Executive Director Jean-Ann Washam. “All school-age children in Jefferson and Grainger counties can attend and receive a new backpack full of school supplies.”
In addition to the school supplies, there were plenty of fun activities for the children including moon bounces, face painting, games, and plenty of treats such as popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones.
For the parents, who were relieved of the burden of trying to figure out how they were going to pay for their children’s school supplies, several local assistance agencies set up informational tables to inform them of what services might be available to them.
The children were so excited and happy to receive their new school supplies, including first-grader Emma, who upon receiving hers, exclaimed “I can’t wait to start school!”
Kate, a mother of four, commented, “With four kids it is very hard to afford all the school supplies they need. This event is a big help to my family.”
“Thank you for all you do to support Appalachian Outreach and this event,” said Jean-Ann. “Without Americans Helping Americans® many families in our area would struggle to provide needed school supplies for their children.”
The purpose of Americans Helping Americans® partner Raleigh Rescue Mission’s back-to-school school supplies distribution is two-fold, explained the organization’s director of strategic initiatives Christine Montague-Hicks.
First, it provides children with the opportunity to receive all the required school supplies they need to get off to a successful new school year, while sparing their parents the anguish as to how they were going to pay the pencils, paper and more they know their children need.
Secondly, the back-to-school event is designed to provide awareness to members in the community as to the resources that may be available to them as they prepare for the upcoming school year.
Prior to receiving school supplies, students and parents are required to visit at least five vendor tables which provided educational, nutritional, and other useful information that could potentially improve the student’s new school year.
And when they were not collecting schools supplies or gathering useful information, attendees were invited to share their favorite moves on the dance floor or line up to receive face painting.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we were able to provide the Raleigh Rescue Mission with 150 school kits for elementary school-age children.
“I really appreciate how much my son was helped with the school supplies, backpack included,” stated one parent. “School supplies and bag would have ran about 30-40 bucks I believe.”
Another parent reported, “The backpacks and supplies were really helpful, especially with having multiple kids starting school. I really appreciate it. It took some of the stress of getting my kids prepared off my shoulders.”
And from one of the child advocacy team members participating in the event: “The backpacks have really helped our preschoolers to be able to have something that is theirs and that they can take to their room every night.”
“Ya’ll really did a good job on taking care of those kids,” said one grandmother attending the event. “My grandkids were so happy to get the school supplies and they were very excited.
“God bless you all.”
This year, we were able to provide thousands of children throughout Appalachia with the backpacks and school supplies they need to be prepared from day one of a new school year thanks to our supporters who made it possible. It would not have happened without them.
On any given day, 40 homeless children will be fed, cared for, educated and counseled through the Children’s New Life Plan (CNLP) operated by Americans Helping Americans® partner in North Carolina, the Raleigh Rescue Mission (RRM).
For parents entering the RRM’s homeless services program, among the hardest aspects had been addressing their children’s needs while focusing on their own at the same time.
RRM’s New Life Plan is a continuous program that provides the framework for men, women and children experiencing homelessness to achieve long term stability and break the cycle of poverty, explained RRM CEO John Luckett.
And its CNLP track provides children with social and emotional skills development, counseling to deal with adverse childhood experiences related to homelessness, and tutoring to enable a child to read at their grade level.
CNLP services include before and after-school care, nursery for infants through toddlers 2 ½ years old, preschool with an educational curriculum for children aged 2 ½ through 5, and off-site therapy and safe and fun activities while their mothers are in classes or counseling.
As any parent of young children can attest, one of the biggest challenges, particularly for single mothers, is childcare.
The CNLP allows parents to focus on vocational training, employment and addressing issues related to adverse experiences and traumas that may have led up to them experiencing homelessness, says John.
“The cost of quality childcare and before/after school care programs can be expensive and stressful for single mothers,” he said. “Without the CNLP this would be a barrier for mothers in the program to obtain and maintain employment and to be successful.
“The before and after school program gives parents peace of mind because they know their children are safe and engaged in fun learning opportunities.”
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we are able to provide financial assistance to RRM for the operation of its life-changing CNLP that benefits not only the roughly 100 children served each year themselves, but their parents as well.
“Funds from Americans Helping Americans® are vital at this time to help support the needs of the children being served,” said John. “The Raleigh Rescue Mission is grateful for the support of Americans Helping Americans®. Your support has helped us to expand our children’s program to provide more comprehensive services for our children experiencing homelessness.
“Americans Helping Americans® donors’ support is helping our children build resiliency. The backpacks and school kits (also provided by Americans Helping Americans®) increase self-confidence and esteem,” he continued.
“The smile and excitement on a child’s face communicates how thankful they are for the gifts and opportunities experienced in the children’s program.
“Your gift lets them know they are valued, cared for and loved.”