Providing Holiday Meals Across Appalachia

Providing Holiday Meals Across Appalachia

Each year for more than 20 years, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we have been able to ensure that thousands of children, parents and seniors have a nice turkey meal with all the trimmings over the holiday season.

Among our partners who hosts holiday meals is Big Creek People in Action in distressed McDowell County, West Virginia, which served a total of 962 people last year including 388 children, 574 adults, 90 female heads of households, 162 senior citizens and 20 veterans, according to BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson.

“McDowell County is listed as the most food insecure county in West Virginia with more than 22 percent of residents struggling to find a consistent stream of meals. We served many of these people with a turkey as well as a food box and gifts.

 

“As each year passes with these parties, I seem to become more sentimental about them. I caught my self looking around at each of the parties (we have three parties in one day) and thinking how we are so intertwined with the families that we were serving for Christmas. The ties that bind us together!”

This year, the holiday is fast approaching and with your help our goal is to more than 6,500 people in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia by providing BCPIA and our other partners with grant funding in order to enable them to purchase the turkeys and food boxes in their own communities, thereby supporting the local economy.

“Many of these families wouldn’t spend the extra money to buy a turkey because of all their other expenses at Christmas,” Marsha continued. “It is a comforting feeling to know that we are able to help them have a good Christmas and lasting memories.”

Please help us ensure that these thousands have a happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas this year by giving what you can today.

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.”

Americans Helping Americans® Supports Appalachian Outreach Back-to-School Bash

Americans Helping Americans® Supports Appalachian Outreach Back-to-School Bash

“Everything is free” at Americans Helping Americans® partner Appalachian Outreach’s “Back-to-School Bash” in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

“This is a fun community event to help kick off the school year,” explained Appalachian Outreach Executive Director Jean-Ann Washam. “All school-age children in Jefferson and Grainger counties can attend and receive a new backpack full of school supplies.”

In addition to the school supplies, there were plenty of fun activities for the children including moon bounces, face painting, games, and plenty of treats such as popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones.

For the parents, who were relieved of the burden of trying to figure out how they were going to pay for their children’s school supplies, several local assistance agencies set up informational tables to inform them of what services might be available to them.

The children were so excited and happy to receive their new school supplies, including first-grader Emma, who upon receiving hers, exclaimed “I can’t wait to start school!”

Kate, a mother of four, commented, “With four kids it is very hard to afford all the school supplies they need. This event is a big help to my family.”

“Thank you for all you do to support Appalachian Outreach and this event,” said Jean-Ann. “Without Americans Helping Americans® many families in our area would struggle to provide needed school supplies for their children.”

When a backpack is more than a backpack

When a backpack is more than a backpack

The purpose of Americans Helping Americans® partner Raleigh Rescue Mission’s back-to-school school supplies distribution is two-fold, explained the organization’s director of strategic initiatives Christine Montague-Hicks.

First, it provides children with the opportunity to receive all the required school supplies they need to get off to a successful new school year, while sparing their parents the anguish as to how they were going to pay the pencils, paper and more they know their children need.

Secondly, the back-to-school event is designed to provide awareness to members in the community as to the resources that may be available to them as they prepare for the upcoming school year.

Giving out school supplies and backpacks

Prior to receiving school supplies, students and parents are required to visit at least five vendor tables which provided educational, nutritional, and other useful information that could potentially improve the student’s new school year.

And when they were not collecting schools supplies or gathering useful information, attendees were invited to share their favorite moves on the dance floor or line up to receive face painting.

Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we were able to provide the Raleigh Rescue Mission with 150 school kits for elementary school-age children.

“I really appreciate how much my son was helped with the school supplies, backpack included,” stated one parent. “School supplies and bag would have ran about 30-40 bucks I believe.”

Another parent reported, “The backpacks and supplies were really helpful, especially with having multiple kids starting school. I really appreciate it. It took some of the stress of getting my kids prepared off my shoulders.”

And from one of the child advocacy team members participating in the event: “The backpacks have really helped our preschoolers to be able to have something that is theirs and that they can take to their room every night.”

“Ya’ll really did a good job on taking care of those kids,” said one grandmother attending the event. “My grandkids were so happy to get the school supplies and they were very excited.

“God bless you all.”

This year, we were able to provide thousands of children throughout Appalachia with the backpacks and school supplies they need to be prepared from day one of a new school year thanks to our supporters who made it possible. It would not have happened without them.

Creating a New Life in Raleigh, North Carolina

Creating a New Life in Raleigh, North Carolina

On any given day, 40 homeless children will be fed, cared for, educated and counseled through the Children’s New Life Plan (CNLP) operated by Americans Helping Americans® partner in North Carolina, the Raleigh Rescue Mission (RRM).

For parents entering the RRM’s homeless services program, among the hardest aspects had been addressing their children’s needs while focusing on their own at the same time.

RRM’s New Life Plan is a continuous program that provides the framework for men, women and children experiencing homelessness to achieve long term stability and break the cycle of poverty, explained RRM CEO John Luckett.

And its CNLP track provides children with social and emotional skills development, counseling to deal with adverse childhood experiences related to homelessness, and tutoring to enable a child to read at their grade level.

Mother and children read a book in North Carolina

CNLP services include before and after-school care, nursery for infants through toddlers 2 ½ years old, preschool with an educational curriculum for children aged 2 ½ through 5, and off-site therapy and safe and fun activities while their mothers are in classes or counseling.

As any parent of young children can attest, one of the biggest challenges, particularly for single mothers, is childcare.

The CNLP allows parents to focus on vocational training, employment and addressing issues related to adverse experiences and traumas that may have led up to them experiencing homelessness, says John.

“The cost of quality childcare and before/after school care programs can be expensive and stressful for single mothers,” he said. “Without the CNLP this would be a barrier for mothers in the program to obtain and maintain employment and to be successful.

“The before and after school program gives parents peace of mind because they know their children are safe and engaged in fun learning opportunities.”

Smiling Little girl in North Carolina

Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we are able to provide financial assistance to RRM for the operation of its life-changing CNLP that benefits not only the roughly 100 children served each year themselves, but their parents as well.

“Funds from Americans Helping Americans® are vital at this time to help support the needs of the children being served,” said John. “The Raleigh Rescue Mission is grateful for the support of Americans Helping Americans®. Your support has helped us to expand our children’s program to provide more comprehensive services for our children experiencing homelessness.

“Americans Helping Americans® donors’ support is helping our children build resiliency. The backpacks and school kits (also provided by Americans Helping Americans®) increase self-confidence and esteem,” he continued.

“The smile and excitement on a child’s face communicates how thankful they are for the gifts and opportunities experienced in the children’s program.

“Your gift lets them know they are valued, cared for and loved.”