Melvin Sapp is a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran struggling to get by on complete disability and he and his wife have their hands full raising three of their grandchildren in their modest home in rural Tennessee.
Because of his disability, Melvin has been unable to do regular maintenance on the several decades old home and over the years their kitchen floor support had rotted. The home was built on a stone pier support and the decay of the floor joists caused the home to shift just enough to allow them to set directly on the ground, accelerating the decay and rot.
But thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, along with our partner there, Of One Accord (OOA), and a mission team of volunteers from Mt. Harmony Baptist Church in North Carolina, significant work was able to be done to the house.
With funds provided through Americans Helping Americans® home rehabilitation program, they were able to purchase the lumber, floor covering, fixtures and more, as well as do electrical and plumbing work, to make the necessary improvements.
It was quite an undertaking.
OOA executive director Rev. Sheldon Livesay explained that the built-in kitchen cabinets had been destroyed in order to make the repairs which included re-leveling the floor and building a cinder-block, pier-supported floor to match the existing grade of the rest of the house.
Next, the floor was rebuilt and covered with a new floor covering and new cabinets and countertops were installed.
“Mr. and Mrs. Sapp have fallen into a growing problem in our area of grandparents being required to raise their grandchildren because of drug addiction,” he told us. “In addition to the stress and burdens that one’s drug-addicted children leave on the parents; the stress is exacerbated when they are now required to raise their children’s children.”
But despite the struggles and challenges they face, it was heartwarming to hear the good news that at least one major worry has been removed from their lives thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®.
“Today, their home is again a safe and livable place for this burdened family,” he said.
Our partner, Caring Hands Ministries, has done great work with providing help with food, clothes, and support to veterans and their families in GA. Below is a recent press release from Caring Hands :
For Immediate Release
For More Information Ann Fleming
FREE FOOD BOXES FOR MILITARY FAMILIES, VETERANS, FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
Caring Hands Ministries is offering free food boxes Saturday Jan. 27 to any active duty military families, veterans, and federal employees in this area who are affected by the government shut down and as a way of showing them respect and thanks. The idea for this developed as ministry volunteers thought of their own family members who might get IOU’s not pay checks realized that even though they might be able to get by on savings etc. some felt they and their service were not being valued. Food boxes will be available Sat. Jan. 27 12-2 PM at Caring Hands Ministries office. The address is 6483 Cleveland Hwy Clermont, GA in the same building as Papa’s Pizza. Cleveland Hwy is Hwy 129.
“The shut down may be over before Saturday.” said Caring Hands President Charles Fleming but we think it is important to show our support and appreciation in this way My nephew served in the middle east and was wounded there which put an end to his military career. I know he will be OK but I know it makes his children wonder why law makers are paid and dad isn’t. We learned when we did Homeland Military Relief boxes that there are quite a few veterans in this area who need all the help they can get. Many of them put their lives on the line for our country. We believe this is one way we can say thank you and show our respect.”
The boxes are provided by Americans Helping Americans www.helpingmericans.org
the same organization that provided the Homeland Military Relief boxes. They contain the makings of several meals in non perishable from. In addition those getting food boxes will be able to enter a drawing for a frozen turkey. Food boxes will be available while supplies last and hopefully will be adequate for all who need them.
Also available on the 27th will be warm new blankets, hats, scarves, gloves, and teen and adult shoes left from last week’s warm head to toe give away.
Anyone wanting more information or wanting to help or donate in any way can contact Caring Hands Ministries at 706 219 1980.
Joseph is a veteran who served our nation well. Now retired and living on a meager fixed income in the small Appalachian community of Pine Ridge in McDowell County, West Virginia he struggles to keep food on the table and his bills paid each month.
There is no money left over for home repairs.
And that’s where we, with our grassroots partner there, Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA), teams of volunteer college students came in.
Each spring, BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson pores over dozens of applications for the home rehabilitation program she oversees deciding which households are most in need in repair when she came across Joseph’s.
“There are so many things that need to be done to this home it was hard to decide where to start,” Marsha told us.
One of the first priorities was repairing the bathroom floor which appeared to be a relatively simple job of only having to replace the top floor.
“NOPE! No such luck,” she said. “When we got there tearing out the top floor we saw that subfloor was also rotted out. When we tore out the subfloor we saw the joists were rotten.”
Once they had the entire floor and joists out they realized that the walls were also rotten. And once they had those out they realized “the plumbing was a nightmare” and on top of that the pipes were lead.
“We are basically constructing him an entirely new bathroom,” Marsha said, replacing both the bathtub and the sink. “The only thing we were able to save was the toilet (even though we did have to buy a new seat for it). Thank goodness it hadn’t gone through the floor and busted!”
Three teams of college students began working under the supervisor of an experienced contractor worked on the house this past March.
In the first week of March a team from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey came in and did a lot of the demolition, followed by a second Rider team the following week which completed the demolition work and started on construction. Next up was a group of students from Notre Dame University which did the plumbing and more construction work.
All three groups also worked on the installing sheetrock and painting the house, as well as tearing out old rotting steps and installing new vinyl siding.
And that’s not all. In April, Marsha has scheduled a group from the First Parish Church of Duxbury, Massachusetts, and in May a group of students from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky who will be coming in to work on the steps and porch.
It’s no wonder why Marsha dubbed this house “the never-ending work project” as there is still much work to do in the bedroom and kitchen as well.
“We thought the project was going to take a week and we started at the first of March and we still have so much to do,” Marsha said. “Some people may think we are doing too much for this one home, but I disagree. How much is ‘too much’ for someone that served our country?”
2016 has been a year to remember! Because of friends like you, so many smiled with joy.
In West Virginia, 412 veterans received food support; 85 children attended a summer enrichment camp; 34 children attended an afterschool program where they received one-on-one tutoring; and more.
In Georgia, 217 were warmed with our utility assistance program; 414 benefited from a food bank support program; 47 youth learned at a summer enrichment camp; and more.
In Tennessee, 14,459 meals were delivered to hungry children living in rural areas while school was out for the summer; 2,240 individuals benefited from food bank support and the “Neighborly Meals” program for the elderly and disabled, and more.
In Kentucky, 456 children received new pairs of shoes through our Barefeet Program; 23 youth participated in a Youth Leadership Training Program, and more.
Throughout Appalachia, 15,714 children and adults benefited from in-kind donations including backpacks filled with school supplies, winter coats and accessories, blankets, and holiday and summer food distributions.
Watch the video to see all this, and more, that you have helped make possible.
Alexandria, Virginia – Americans Helping Americans® has awarded a $10,000 grant to Big Creek People in Action in McDowell County, West Virginia to support its home rehabilitation program.
Each year for the past several years, Americans Helping Americans® has partnered with Big Creek People in Action to provide necessary repairs to the homes of elderly and disabled homeowners who don’t have the means to pay for the repairs themselves.
Projects include repairing leaking roofs, fixing floors, porches and steps, replacing drywall and sheetrock, and building handicap ramps.
University of Richmond students working on a generator roof.
In many cases, without these repairs and ramps, the homeowner would not be able to remain in their home due to safety and/or access issues, according to Marsha Timpson, co-executive director of Big Creek People in Action.
To bring these repairs to fruition takes a three-way partnership: Big Creek People in Action vets and selects the beneficiaries and organizes the projects; groups from colleges and schools come to McDowell County for a week where they volunteer to put in long hours helping someone else in need; and Americans Helping Americans® which provides funding to purchase lumber, shingles and other material and supplies.
Beth Tessema, interim executive director of Americans Helping Americans®, noted that her organization cannot presume to identify the needs in communities such as McDowell County and relies on grassroots organizations such as Big Creek People in Action to determine best how to use grant funding provided by Americans Helping Americans®.
University of Richmond students tearing out old floor at the old cabin at Berwind Lake.
The mission of Americans Helping Americans® is to join communities, build and strengthen neighbor relations and work side-by-side with residents to address community-wide concerns and to link resources supportive of a healthy, safe and economically comparable standard of living.
“Our philosophy is to nurture inclusive communities, unite to create support networks and determine the necessary strategic actions to address chronic, but preventable, problems,” said Tessema.
This past March, dozens of students from colleges and universities such as the University of Notre Dame, the University of Richmond, Emory & Henry College, Rider University and Mars Hill University gave up a spring break on the beach to work long hours, at no pay, helping their fellow Americans in need.
They spent a week getting up early in the morning, and working all day painting homes, installing drywall, repairing floors, porches and stairs, and installing handicap ramps allowing the elderly and disabled residents the ability to enter and exit their house on their own.
Instead of sleeping in a beachfront hotel and eating in expensive restaurants, they slept in a bunk bed in dormitory room with their classmates, and had their supper cafeteria-style at the headquarters of Big Creek People In Action.
University of Richmond students installing sheetrock in Brandi Wright’s old cabin at Berwind Lake. The cabin was built in 1856.
Specifically, these students tackled big jobs such as installing sheetrock in Brandi’s cabin at Berwind Lake – built in 1856 – and tore out the old floor. The University of Richmond students spent a week working on the cabin, and when the Emory & Henry students arrived they picked up where the University of Richmond students left off.
Notre Dame students sealed off a trailer roof with cool seal for Nathan, one of our nation’s veterans, in the community of Coalwood.
In the town of Bradshaw, homeowner Wallace was so grateful for the work the students from Notre Dame were doing on his house that he treated them all to pizza for lunch.
Meanwhile, another group of students from Notre Dame repaired a bathroom floor for Mike, another U.S. military veteran, and his wife, Donna, in John’s Branch, where they are raising four of their grandchildren.
Americans Helping Americans®is proud to be part of this team of students dedicated to helping others, and BCPIA, which organizes the volunteer groups, by providing funding to purchase the supplies and materials necessary to make the repairs.
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