Flash Drives for Young Minds in Beattyville, Kentucky

Flash Drives for Young Minds in Beattyville, Kentucky

For many Appalachian parents, being able to support the educational efforts of their children can be challenging.

Now, with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to plague the communities you help us serve, the topic that is on most parents’ minds is what they’re going to do when school is in session.

Thanks to supporters like you, we’re helping to give these children options. From providing school supplies to helping create online opportunities so that teens are safe, we believe in the youth of Appalachia and their educational endeavors.

Along with providing teens in Beattyville, Kentucky with Coronavirus Learning Pods, we also want to make sure elementary school children will be able to continue their studies even if they have computers at home, but not internet access.

That’s why Americans Helping Americans® is providing 200 flash drives to them.

This is part of the digital divide, or simply, families who have access to computers and broadband internet at home and those that do not. Many school children in Appalachia live with no computer and broadband internet access at home. That means that low-income students without computers cannot do their homework. They cannot conduct research for school projects. They cannot email their teachers if they have a question or need guidance. They cannot do their assignments when school isn’t in session.

For years, we’ve worked with our partner, Lee County Family Resource Center (LCFRC), in Beattyville to provide a computer to needy children at Beattyville Elementary School.

With the flash drives, students will be able to receive their assignments from their teachers, complete their classwork and upload it onto the flash drive and return the flash drive to their teachers.

With your help, we can help hundreds of children in Beattyville are able to adapt to the educational challenges facing the community.

Congratulations to Lynn Parker – The Second Helper of the Month for April!

Congratulations to Lynn Parker – The Second Helper of the Month for April!

In recognition of National Volunteer Awareness Month, we would like to acknowledge Lynn Parker as the second recipient of the Americans Helping Americans® – Helper of the Month award for April! Congratulations, Lynn!

Lynn Parker is a model volunteer leader for his family, his church, his community and has been active in county and state efforts as well. Working with our partner, Of One Accord Ministry in Hancock and Hawkins counties in Tennessee, Lynn demonstrates a positive, friendly, helpful and encouraging, and Christian character that is always outstanding.

After Lynn retired in 1998, he wanted to give back to his community. His Baptist Association was promoting the need for food pantries to serve a rising number of people experiencing emergency food needs. Of One Accord Ministry was operating a food pantry in Rogersville and Lynn asked if he could organize an effort to join with that ministry to open a food pantry in Church Hill.

After locating a 2,400 square foot office space, he had to organize an effort to pay for the expense of keeping the building open. By personally making contacts with churches in his community, he has kept the food pantry open paying all expenses for the last 20 years.

During that time, the food pantry has distributed approximately 5 million pounds of food to 160,00 people!

In addition, the need for a Free Medical Clinic arose and Lynn invited a doctor to use the back section of the food pantry. From that tiny space, doctors served 7,830 patients, giving 13,494 prescriptions 2,224 labs, free of charge, to people without jobs and without insurance for eight years. The clinic grew to find it’s own home which opened in mid-2008.

Emergency Service is operated by volunteers with one lady working 15 hrs a week to help with record–keeping. Lynn schedules to ensure some of the 100 volunteers are always on duty to serve those in need. They have to organize another volunteer effort to be at local grocery stores several days a week to pick up donated items for the food pantry. He coordinates efforts to give Christmas food boxes, which are beyond the normal program of Emergency Services and he coordinates efforts to keep the facility cleaned, all maintenance done and equipment in running order.

In the last couple of years, Lynn has raised money to hire a part time supervisor for Emergency Services to help share part of the responsibility of day to day duties.

Both Lynn and his wife Carolyn still volunteer several days a month interviewing clients and during his time there have logged in over 10,000 hours!

Additionally, Lynn has received numerous awards over the years which illustrate his exceptional character, exemplary skills as a role model, and service to the church.

Lynn Parker spends his free time on a family farm, he grew up on, in Webster Valley, outside Rogersville where he still raises beef cattle. This is where he calls God’s Country, and has a place there he calls “new ground” which is a back hollow that holds a special place to go meet God.

He has joined a friend to establish a new business, called Appalachian Resource which takes potentially dangerous commercial waste and disposes of it in a safe manner.

In many ways, we could not find a better choice for recognition than that of Lynn Parker.

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!

Congratulations to Linda Smith – Helper of the Month for April!

Congratulations to Linda Smith – Helper of the Month for April!

We would like to acknowledge Linda Smith as the recipient of the Americans Helping Americans® – Helper of the Month award for April! Congratulations, Linda!

We heard about Linda from our partner, Sherry Lanham of the Lee County Family Resource Center in Lee County, Kentucky. According to Sherry, “Linda, her husband Bob and their son Josh own the local newspaper–Three Forks Tradition but they are the backbone of our community, especially Linda.” Sherry told us that this month, she has worked so hard to organize events to keep the Lee County community in good spirits while the COVID-19 virus has many people “down and out.”

As a show of support for the high school’s seniors who may not have a graduation ceremony this year, Linda was instrumental in raising money to buy signs with all of their names and placed them in the center of town and around the high school.

She is also working with the school to provide a gift for seniors every Friday, ranging from a pizza lunch to gift cards. The seniors pull up in their car and are handed a special gift from the community. This past Saturday she helped organize an antique car parade that drove all over the community and around the nursing home to help lift the spirits of those who cannot leave their residence.   

For over 25 years, she has been the chairperson of Lee County’s local “Woolly Worm Festival” that is held each October. Despite the fact that these are uncertain times, she is already working on the upcoming festival. Linda always gives the Lee County Family Resource Center free coverage when they do a school activity or one sponsored by Americans Helping Americans.

This year, Lee County will celebrate their 150th anniversary and she has worked hard to start this event since January.  Sherry says, “She had plans for monthly activities but those are on hold at this time.”  

In March, just prior to Kentucky’s shutdown, the resource center held a community event to celebrate some of their residents, churches and other community members who had lived in the town for a long time. Linda managed to get plaques, flowers, cakes and have the entire event organized and ready.

Linda truly embodies the spirit of a hometown hero. She and her husband both have numerous health problems but that doesn’t stop her from attending every community event, working hard and making sure those who need help in the community get what they need.

In addition to serving as Woolly Worm Chair, she serves on Lee County’s Friends helping Friends committee, Museum Committee, Natural Bridge State Park council, July 4th Committee, Trick or Treat on Main Committee, Tree of Love at Christmas, works with the local volunteer firefighters to raise money for their needs, and still finds time to help anyone who asks her for a minute.

Sherry concluded by saying, “She truly deserves to be recognized for all her efforts in our community.”


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!

Shipping Pallets of Hope to our Partners

Shipping Pallets of Hope to our Partners

In places like War, West Virginia, Gainesville, Georgia, Cleveland, Tennessee, Cleveland, Georgia and Beattyville, Kentucky there are hundreds of families in need of basic hygiene items including soap, hand sanitizer, dental kits and for those with infants and toddlers, diapers.

In these times of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, these items can literally be lifesavers, but many of these things are unavailable on store shelves right now, and unaffordable for parents who have lost their jobs and are struggling just to put food on the table.

At Americans Helping Americans, we are able to purchase these items in large quantities directly from a wholesaler and ship them to our longtime partners who have requested them for their clients — Big Creek People in Action in War, LAMP Ministries in Gainesville, Ocoee Outreach in Cleveland, TN, Caring Hands Ministries in Cleveland, GA and Cumberland Mountain Outreach in Beattyville.

And thanks to our supporters, we are shipping 5 pallets boxes containing 2,000 diapers, 200 bars of soap, 160 dental kits and 16 32-ounce bottles of hand sanitizers which they will receive by the end of the week.  Our hope is to be able to do a similar shipment for nearly a dozen more partners in the coming weeks.

Working Together with our communities during COVID19

Working Together with our communities during COVID19

A message from our Executive Director

 

As COVID-19 continues to impact our daily life, many Americans have lost their jobs, livelihood, and ability to pay for basic essential items for themselves and their families. We feel their struggle. In these unprecedented times, we must stand together as best as we can while adhering to social distancing and love one another, help one another, and be there to lift each other up. It is what America is known for. Americans Helping Americans will not stop either to lift our countrymen and women up. I am so thankful for our many supporters, partners, and donors for their steadfast support of our common mission — to improve the lives of thousands of men, women, and children within central Appalachia. Our continued partnership is the bulwark against poverty and homelessness for these Americans.

 

A look back at the past few weeks.

 

March 2020 will be forever remembered as a doozy, to say the least. It felt like the longest month ever recorded in history but at the same time the shortest. Some of the communities we serve were severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and a lot of our programs have been canceled due to the social distancing policies in place. While we were gearing up for the home rehabilitation season, we had to immediately halt as universities and church groups were advised to not form groups and thus, not able to support our partners. Instead of asking our partners to return the grant that would have been used on the home repairs, I instructed our partner leaders to keep the grants and best use the funds to address the problems related to the viral infection. They have since been distributing basic needs either at their base or door to door to make sure the children have activities they can do in small groups while staying active, educated, well-fed, and healthy, as well as helping the elderly with their many basic needs.  Home rehabilitation is our largest funded program and it will be sad to us and the many Americans who so desperately need it and waited all year to get the assistance.

 

I’m so thrilled that the agriculture groups we’ve funded have been able to continue and adapt. The Homegrown program operated by our partner Sprouting Hope was able to hold their first-class teaching community members how to grow to produce in their own backyards online! They will continue to do so for the rest of their classes as best as they can until they can do home visits.

 

I’m so pleased to also share that, during these days when hospitals are running low on supplies, we were able to assist Sentara Regional Medical Hospital in Williamsburg, VA with 2700 masks that their nurses and doctors will use to stay safe!

 

A Look Ahead

 

We are in constant contact with our friends in communities throughout Appalachia and we understand their needs. Groups are requesting a high amount of diapers, soap, toilet paper, hand sanitizers, baby supplies, and various basic need supplies. We are working today to send 10,000 diapers to our partners! And of course, our food box delivery continues by the hundreds in countless communities.  The creativity that localities are using to get food to those most in need is simply inspiring.

 

Normally, in the coming weeks, we would be gearing up to fund and support summer camps.  I hope these programs will be unaffected by quarantines and social distancing.  Otherwise, hundreds of children will be left with little to do in the summer, and with limited meals. Our partners are assessing the situation daily and should anything change, they will use the funds to meet the needs of their community. I truly look forward to seeing the children in these programs, and hope, like you, that the summer days ahead are filled with joy and laughter from these kids.

 

I’m honored to work with partners that are tireless in their efforts to help their neighbors, and to work side by side with staff that are committed to supporting Appalachian communities.

 

Together, we are Americans Helping Americans.

 

Cameron Krizek

Executive Director

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Americans Helping Americans Doubles Our Efforts Amidst the Coronavirus

Americans Helping Americans Doubles Our Efforts Amidst the Coronavirus

At Americans Helping Americans, our partners throughout Appalachia strive to project what the most pressing needs will be for those most in need in their communities in terms of food, basic needs, education and more, for the year ahead. 

 

But no one could have anticipated the hardships that would be imposed on those families and seniors already struggling to get by in these times of the coronavirus pandemic. 

 Our grassroots partners have limited means, few staff, and we’re already stretched to their limits in operating their programs, and we understand that even the best-laid plans can go awry. 

 

Within the past week, we have been hearing from many of them as they have been forced to cancel well-established programs for the foreseeable future as other dire needs have emerged. 

 

In these extraordinary times, they must adapt, and we are giving them the flexibility to use their grant funding to adjust the services they offer to put these resources to best use. 

 

For our partner in Beattyville, Kentucky, Cumberland Mountain Outreach, which has for many years operated a popular free summer camp for children and youth, the tough, but necessary, decision to cancel camp this summer had to be made. 

 

Among the benefits of the summer camp program for the older youth is its Teens in a Leadership program in which the youth who had attended the camp for several years as children are put into mentorship roles providing the younger children a positive role model to look up to. 

 

Instead, this year, these promising teens will be contributing to their community through service projects, such as delivering food boxes door-to-door to senior citizens and the disabled this summer. 

 

 When a partner inquired as to whether we had much-in-demand face masks, it turned out that we had a few thousand on hand which we could provide them. 

AHA COVID19 RESPONSE MASKS

 While non-perishable food boxes will always be in demand, we are also receiving numerous requests from our partners for soap and other personal hygiene items, as well as disposable diapers.  So, we have adjusted our focus as well and will soon be shipping thousands of bars of soap, diapers and other items in the knowledge that sadly, this is likely just the beginning of a long, difficult summer. 

 

None of what we do, and a lot of what our partners do, would be possible without the generosity of Americans Helping Americans whose support we, and our partners and their clients, rely on month after month, year after year. 

 

These are uncharted waters, but with your help, we are helping thousands of our fellow Americans steer their way through the storm and make it the calmer waters we have faith are coming in the months to follow.