Repairing homes with my sidekick, Ko

Repairing homes with my sidekick, Ko

Every year, close to 100 home repair projects are sponsored by Americans Helping Americans and this year is no different. I participated on a few sites, making sure handicap ramps were built, roofs were patched, and kitchen floors were repaired. I met some interesting people along the way like my good friend from South Korea: Ko.

Ko travelled over 7,000 miles to help us fix American homes in Tennessee, which doesn’t happen a lot. He doesn’t speak a lot of English, but we bonded over hard work and completing tasks.



If Ko carried 6 two-by-fours, I had to carry 8. If I was hammering 10 nails a minute, Ko had to do 15. I thought how brave someone must be to go to a different country, immerse yourself in the language, and work on a construction project like ours.


Ko’s a hero.


He doesn’t know this country. He doesn’t know these communities. He doesn’t know these people he’s helping. All he knows is that it’s not right for someone to be unable to get into their own home due to financial reasons or for a child to be interrupted while studying in their room due to water leaking through the roofs because money is too tight to fix it.

Ko flew in like Superman to save a home and in a few weeks, he will fly back to what I’m assuming is his Fortress of Solitude.

To make more heroes like Ko, a gift to Americans Helping Americans can bring them to repair sites across Appalachia.

I can’t wait to fix homes with Ko again… and hopefully play more games.

We can all be heroes to the people of Appalachia

We can all be heroes to the people of Appalachia

My granddad has always been my superhero.

I’ve always been inspired by his experiences; growing up during the depression, serving in the Air Force during WWII, meeting presidents, working at the White House, getting a PhD, and starting Americans Helping Americans. Over the years, we would have family dinners, and granddad would share riveting, inspiring, and sometimes even sad stories of the folks he met in community after community throughout Appalachia. He was so committed to always making their lives a bit better, with a hand-up.

A few weeks ago, he ‘passed the torch’ of leading Americans Helping Americans to me…challenging me to help as many as I could in the years to come. I’m so honored, and humbled, and hope to be a superhero to as many as he has.

And, just maybe, I can feel that AHA superpower just a little.

Last week, I was lucky enough to ride on the Lunch Box Bus in Rodgesville, TN to help bring lunch to the hundreds that don’t have school lunch during the summer days. I sat on the school bus seat and asked the children being served lunch who their personal superhero was. A chorus of “Wonder Woman,” “Superman,” and “Captain America” filled the school bus!

But then one small, seven-year-old girl, quietly said, “Whoever brings me food for the day.”

I was crushed. I sat next to her and talked to her more but before I knew it, time was up. She finished eating and she hopped off the bus. The bus driver told me that she ate lunch on the bus everyday and each time she got off she would say, “Thanks for the food.” She got half way down the street and we were wondering if she was going to say it this time. We waited and waited, wondering if this would be the 1st time she didn’t say thanks. Then we heard her voice from down the street as she yelled for all to hear:


I felt like a hero! Not just to her but to all the children we served lunch to that day. An immense feeling of pride swept over me. A feeling that can only be replicated from knowing I did a good deed. So shout out to all the amazing people out there who know exactly what I’m talking about. Shout out to my granddad!

And if you would like to be a hero to a child, a gift to Americans Helping Americans will go far!

We can all be superheroes, just like granddad.

Working Together, Disabled Tennessee Man Can Remain in Home He Loves

Working Together, Disabled Tennessee Man Can Remain in Home He Loves

Sam was 49-years-old when debilitating cancer struck. It forced him to be confined to a wheelchair to get around – and that included even getting in and out of his home.

His father, aware of the nonprofit, Of One Accord, in Rogersville, Tennessee, turned to the organization for help in having a handicap ramp constructed for his son who had worked hard all his life.

From there, Of One Accord organized a group of volunteers from the local Crossroads Assembly of God congregation which pitched in to build a porch ramp, making it possible for him to enter and exit his home on his own.

Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we are able to provide the funding necessary to construct handicap ramps, repair roofs and rotting floors enabling the elderly and disabled residents such as Sam to remain in the homes they love for as long as they desire.

Gary: Grateful Mom Thankful to Americans Helping Americans for Turning Son’s Life Around

Gary: Grateful Mom Thankful to Americans Helping Americans for Turning Son’s Life Around

After being kicked out of high school because of his behavior and anger issues, Gary is now back in school and his grades are even improving.

And his mom says he is helping around the house with the chores without even having to be asked – something difficult, if not practically impossible, to get a teenager to do.

Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we are able to provide grant funding to our partner in Gainesville, Georgia, L.A.M.P. Ministries. Now, Gary’s life trajectory has taken a major turn for the better.

L.A.M.P. works with troubled youth before they find themselves in serious trouble at school or with the law.

To help him take out some of his anger issues in a positive way, L.A.M.P. enrolled him in a gym where he has taken up boxing.

“He loves to box,” said L.A.M.P. executive director Mary Mauricio. “He says it has really helped him to stay out of trouble.

“His mom is so grateful to L.A.M.P. for our interest in her son,” she added. “All thanks to Americans Helping Americans® for making it possible.”

Donna: From Bad Decisions to Fresh Start

Donna: From Bad Decisions to Fresh Start

Donna came to the Samaritan House pregnant after going from place to place after she and her boyfriend were evicted from their apartment for financial difficulties. At the same time, her ex-husband was trying to get sole custody of their 4-year-old child.

“Clearly, Donna had made several very poor decisions,” reported Jean-Ann Washam, executive director of Appalachian Outreach, Americans Helping Americans® partner in Jefferson City, Tennessee, which operates the Samaritan House for homeless women and children.

But thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® and the dedicated staff at Samaritan House, Donna was able to put together a set of goals to help her get on a better path.

In addition to making and keeping appointments with her doctor , she had to look for work, which, with her doctor’s approval, she was able to do. She found a job at a nearby gas station that had had a “help wanted” sign in the window.

With funding from Americans Helping Americans® for Appalachian Outreach’s job readiness program, Donna was able to purchase a few shirts with collars and a pair of skid-proof shoes which were conditions of her employment.

A short time later, an even better job offer came through at a local factory which paid much more. Donna and her boyfriend, who had been living with his parents, found a mobile home they would be able to rent shortly before the birth of their baby girl.

“Our hope is that Donna will resolve the many issues she has had and will make changes as needed,” said Jean-Ann. “Thank you Americans Helping Americans® for allowing us to have the funding to help women like Donna get back on their feet and have a fresh start.”

Tanya: No Longer ‘Useless’, but a Valuable Georgia Farmer

Tanya: No Longer ‘Useless’, but a Valuable Georgia Farmer

Tanya, who has learning disabilities, grew up being regarded as “stupid and useless.” However, that did not deter this determined young woman from becoming self-sufficient.

Today, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, our partner in Cleveland, Georgia, Caring Hands Ministries, was able to start its Farm and Home Program. The program matches farmers with affordable helpers. In return, the farmers not only pay their wages; they provide them with a place to live on the farm.

“Tanya is now part of our Farm and Home Program and for the first time sees herself as valuable,” says Caring Hands executive director Ann Fleming.

“The farm owner is pleased with her work and says she will have a job and a home as long as the farm continues.

“She has a lot to learn, but she is learning – and also learning to let her family know that she is not ‘useless.’”

Caring Hands’ Farm and Home Program is a win-win, not only for people like Tanya, but also for struggling farmers.

“One farm owner says the program is helping save her family farm,” Ann told us.