Americans Helping Americans – Helper of the Month Award for November!

Americans Helping Americans – Helper of the Month Award for November!

We would like to acknowledge Larry Hellmann as the recipient of the Americans Helping Americans – Helper of the Month award for November! Congrats Larry!

Appalachian Outreach (AO), Americans Helping Americans® partner in Jefferson City, Tennessee, depends heavily on their local volunteers. They invest themselves in serving others and Larry Hellmann is a perfect example of someone who always goes above and beyond.

Larry has volunteered with AO for almost 10 years. During this time, he has taken on a variety of roles. Currently, he works at Appalachian Outreach‘s Donation Center, picking up donated food for their pantry and assisting with their events such as Coats for the Cold and the School Supply Drive.

Karrie Foust, Appalachian Outreach Ministry Center Coordinator, commented:

“One of the things I love about Larry is he is a behind the scenes guy that wants to do whatever to help the ministry run smoothly. He often states that he is just here to help. He reminds me of Barnabas as described in the New Testament. He was a worker bee that often encouraged others. Barnabas made things happen but did not need to get credit or be in the spotlight.”

Larry is a retired fire chief from Florida that retired to East Tennessee. He is not only involved in Appalachian Outreach but volunteers with other agencies in the community as well as his church. Thank you Larry for being willing to serve in such a practical way. You are making a huge difference!

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!

Success Story: Jennifer Shelton

Success Story: Jennifer Shelton

Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® our partner in West Virginia, Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA), is able to provide tutors to students at the McDowell County Career and Technology Center (MCCTC).

Students have a wide variety of programs to choose from, including automotive technology, building maintenance, coding apps and game design, computer systems/hardware support, early childhood education, law and public safety, licensed practical nursing, small engine repair, welding, and more.

In 2010, MCCTC school counselor Katie Linkous noticed that some of the students at the career and technology center were deficient in basic math and reading skills. After reaching out to BCPIA, together, they arranged a partnership to fill the need for remedial courses.

This led individual career and technical course assistance, pre-preparation for pre- and post- National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) testing, assistance with OSHA-10 (offering 10 hours of training for all construction and general industry professionals) and WIN online learning for earning a ready-to-work credential for jobs across occupations and industries.

In 2018-2019, 99 percent of student scores increased from pre-NOCTI benchmark tests in the fall, followed by an audit post-test in the spring prior to the student completing the program. Five of these students received a Governor’s Workforce Credential for meeting such high standards.

Among the success stories is the MCCTC’s graduation speaker in 2019, Jennifer Shelton. Jennifer completed the practical nursing program and went on to become an RN then earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) which are typically given more responsibility, supervisory roles and higher salaries.

Jennifer is currently completing classes to become a nurse practitioner and has chosen to stay in McDowell County now working at a local health clinic in a supervisory position.

“She is just one of many success stories.”

Introducing the Americans Helping Americans – Helper of the Month Award!

Introducing the Americans Helping Americans – Helper of the Month Award!

We would like to acknowledge Brent and Candice Duncil as recipients of the Americans Helping Americans – Helper of the Month award! Congrats Brent and Candice!

Brent and Candice are both teachers in Kentucky who go above and beyond the call of duty every day to make sure their students are excelling in and out of school. Recently, Ms. Duncil noticed a student who would cry every day when it was time to go home. After talking to the boy, she discovered he was sad because he had little food at home, no bed, and no T.V. She contacted our partner, the Lee County Family Resource Center and together, they were able to take the family grocery shopping as well as buy them household items, clothing, and educational toys.

Mr. Duncil is also a volunteer school bus driver. Because he helps out on field trips and weekend routes, he saves the school money so that they can afford to take students on more educational trips and have the funds to provide food.

Together, they are a community-helping force! They started a campaign to help a family raise money to send a loved one to Cancer Centers of America to get treatment. They were able to raise the funds necessary for the family to visit the facility several times. Although the treatment was unsuccessful, Mr. and Mrs. Duncil helped the family through the funeral and organized food to be taken to the home and a dinner after the funeral.

The Duncils are a family who work together, pray together, and help others together. Their oldest son is serving in the Marines and has just returned from Iraq. They are all very giving within their classrooms and within their community. They are raising their children to be respectful, helpful, and kind to others. They give their time, money, and abilities and ask nothing in return. We need more families like the Duncils in our communities. Thank you for dedication!

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!

197 Children in Kentucky Have New Shoes through our Barefeet Program!

197 Children in Kentucky Have New Shoes through our Barefeet Program!

With school now in session and cold weather approaching, children throughout Appalachia are in need of new shoes. To meet this need, through our Barefeet program, children are taken to a shoe store and are able to pick out EXACTLY what pair of shoes they want each year.

A few weeks ago, our partner, the Lee County Family Resource Center in Beattyville, Kentucky helped serve 197 children with shoes, thanks to our supporters. Imagine the look of joy when they were told they could take these shoes home! Here are some of their stories.

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.


Making home repairs in Appalachia


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.