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!

Samantha trains to become a nurse thanks to our vocational training program and her perseverance

Samantha trains to become a nurse thanks to our vocational training program and her perseverance

In Cleveland, Georgia, there is an 18-year-old woman, who we’ll call Samantha, who was working a dead-end, minimum-wage job with no hopes of advancement.

Among the missions of Americans Helping Americans is enabling people, such as Samantha, through vocational assistance programs and small financial grants, generally no more than $100, to give them that little extra “hand up” to get them over the hurdle.

Our partner there, Caring Hands Ministries, helped her find a better job…but much more than that – an opportunity that provided Samantha with the first step in the career field of her choice.

Her new employer is paying for her to earn her certified nursing assistant license, but she had just one hurdle still to overcome — the job required that in order to begin working, she would have to buy her own nurses scrubs and a new pair of nice tennis shoes.

“Thanks to this grant, we were able to purchase her three sets of scrubs and a pair of shoes to help her jump-start her new career,” reported Caring Hands, which added that among the many benefits of the Americans Helping Americans vocational training grant program is that it gives the grassroots non-profit organization the ability to help people obtain the training or items needed to find employment.

“This young lady is working hard and studying for her exam to become a CNA. Once she earns her CNA license she will get a raise at work.”

Today, Samantha has realized her dream of beginning a career in nursing, with likely many more to come as she advances in her new profession, all thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans.

Congratulations to Susan Murray – Helper of the Month for December!

Congratulations to Susan Murray – Helper of the Month for December!

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!

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.”