In the small hard-hit communities of Jefferson City, Tennessee, Beattyville and London, Kentucky, and Cleveland and Gainesville, Georgia, 1,155 residents are still living in their homes, toasty warm even on the coldest days of the year.
These children, their parents and elders all benefited to our utility assistance program which kept them having to choose between paying their electric or gas bill, or putting food on the table or buying medicine they need.
Thanks to the generosity of the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® not only were they able to prevent having their utilities disconnected, as we tragically have learned from our program partners who administer the funds to those most in need in their communities, but save them from eviction as landlords kick out tenants who cannot pay their utility bills even if they are current on their rent.
We have also learned that even if parents own their own home, having their electricity or gas cut off, the local government can split families up by taking young children and placing them in foster care in when the home has no heat or power.
In most cases, people have simply fallen on hard times and struggle to keep all their bills paid but there just isn’t enough money to go around from month to month, particularly in winter when utility bills can skyrocket.
Among them is Dawn of Beattyville who developed health issues which prevented her from working.
“After paying my rent and other bills, I wasn’t able to come up with enough money to pay my electric bill,” she told us. “I received a shut off notice from the amount of $171.12.”
With no family or friends she could ask for financial assistance, Dawn turned to Americans Helping Americans® partner Cumberland Mountain Outreach for help in getting her bill current, and she has odd jobs lined up so she will be able to pay her bill in the future, without the threat of a disconnection notice hanging over her head.
For others, such as Lisa, another Beattyville resident, having their electricity cut off can be life-threatening.
“Thank you for the assistance you provided for my family,” she told us. “I am on oxygen to help me breathe. Without your help my electricity would have been turned off. From the bottom of my heart, Thank You!”
Dawn and Lisa are just two of those 1,155 of those helped in the past year with utility assistance when they had nowhere else to turn – the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®.
Right now in Beattyville the low temperatures are below freezing and there are many others there and in Jefferson City, London, Cleveland and Gainesville who are worried how they’re going to pay all their bills on time before their power is disconnected.
You can help prevent that from happening with your gift of $25, $50 or more today, to prevent the loss of electricity, or perhaps even their home, tomorrow.
We would like to acknowledge Susan Murray as the recipient of the Americans Helping Americans® – Helper of the Month award for December! Congratulations Susan!
Susan is a sweet, kind soul and has volunteered for several events for our partner, Caring Hands Ministries in Cleveland, Georgia. Susan is always willing to help whenever, where ever and how ever she can.
Susan was homeless and living in her van for quite some time. But even when she was homeless, she was always there to help. It was important for her to give back even when she was having struggles herself.
She has always had a good attitude and wanted people to know that with God, all things are possible. She never wavered from her faith and belief that things were going to get better and that everything is in God’s time. Executive director of Caring Hands Ministries, Lafaye Murphy, says, “She is a joy to be around and I always know that if I need volunteers, that I can always count on Susan to be there to pitch in.”
Susan has since gotten into subsidized housing and is doing well.
The Helper of the Month award is designed to show the amazing, wonderful, hard-working, and dedicated people in the Appalachian communities we serve every day. Each month, we’ll be sharing these stories with you in the hopes that you’ll walk away as inspired as we are to do good things in your community!
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.
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.”