As the COVID-10 (coronavirus) pandemic continues, residents in Appalachia still need help and children still need to eat – particularly healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits that families are able to grow in their backyard or in neighborhood community gardens.
Among our newest partners are Sprouting Hope in Marion, Virginia and Refresh Appalachia in Huntington, West Virginia, which are soldiering on as best they can even in these most worrisome of times.
Knowing that they count on Americans Helping Americans and our loyal helpers, we will aid them to establish their gardens to help their communities.
That’s why, thanks to a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous, for the first time we are able to announce our “Garden Match” program in which every dollar contributed by people like you will be doubled by this generous donor.
Sprouting Hope’s mission is to feed the community by growing and sharing healthy produce, with the vision of everyone having access to healthy food. With the Homegrown program, 10 families will be able to learn how to operate a successful garden in their own backyard, benefiting the family and the neighborhood!
“With a focus on serving and empowering low-income individuals, we not only give a fish but also teach how to fish by making the program accessible for participants to work and learn in the garden,” states Sprouting Hope on its website.
Program coordinator Mandy Hart reported this week that the organization’s operations have not been affected by COVID 19 yet, although they are taking precautions including putting its Homegrowers course online making it available to residents in the community.
“The Homegrown program will continue,” says Mandy. “We just have to get a bit more creative.”
This month, participants began planting the seeds in trays at a local high school greenhouse so the seedlings will be ready for planting following the final frost of the season.
Upcoming classes focus on soil fertility, including soil tests, transplanting their seedlings from trays into bigger pots as they mature, basic gardening skills including demonstrations of the proper use of gardening tools, planting, hoeing and mulching, followed in June with learning about common gardening problems including pests, diseases and more.
In Huntington, Refresh Appalachia, with support from Americans Helping Americans, is working to create a garden on an unused tract at a community center in a low-income public housing community. This area is known as a “food desert” – the nearest actual grocery store is miles away and many residents don’t have access to transportation.
These projects are vital to the health and wellbeing of the residents in the communities, and they MUST go on!
And with your help, these communities will become more resilient with fresh local food, food security, with the potential to provide additional income to families and individuals.
Please, if you can, give today to our Garden Match and remember, every dollar you contribute is doubled!
Thank you, and be safe!
In White County, Georgia there is but one primary care physician for 4,130 residents – ten times the national average of 1 doctor per 435 patients.
In addition, 16 out of every 100 county residents lack health insurance and cannot afford preventative care, or to pay for medical treatment when the need arises.
Fortunately, the Community Helping Hands Clinic (CHHC) is there to provide free or low-cost health care services based on income operating with five volunteer doctors who provide medical assistance to hundreds of patients in need each year.
In addition to preventative care and treatment for illnesses, they also treat chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. At the clinic patients can also receive dental and vision support.
CHHC was founded in 2009 when a group of White County citizens came together to discuss the need for a free clinic to serve the uninsured residents of the area…a clinic that had long been the dream of a prominent local physician.
CHHC provides primary health care to adult patients between the ages of 18 and 65 who cannot have, nor qualify for Medicaid, Peach Care, Medicare or any other form of health care insurance.
“White County has many challenges regarding healthcare, a county which has no hospital, high patient-to-doctor ratio, and above average number of residents without any type of insurance,” states CHHC Executive Director Gene White. “With your help, we can resolve a few of those challenges and continue to serve the needs of our neighbors with quality and compassionate healthcare.”
Americans Helping Americans® is proud to now be partnering with CHHC by providing the clinic with a grant of $5,085 for assistance in treatment costs and other operating expenses.
For the past nearly 15 years Americans Helping Americans® has been helping people throughout Appalachia see, eat and smile better through our eyeglasses and dental programs, as well as providing them with emergency medical assistance for necessary prescriptions in times of extreme need.
For example, in 2006 we provided funding for a denture assistance program serving the residents of Martin County, Kentucky and Mingo County, West Virginia, for which we received dozens of letters with stories and thanks from those who experienced dramatic improvements in their self-confidence and quality of life.
Our emergency medical assistance program acted as a safety net for people of Appalachia who were working hard just to get by and had nothing left over after paying their bills and putting food on the table to cover the costs related to an emergency illness.
For example, one man in West Virginia told us in 2008 that he had gone without teeth for 30 years before Americans Helping Americans® provided him with a set of dentures.
“I couldn’t ever get enough ahead to get a set of false teeth,” he said.
A woman who received a set of dentures, exclaimed “Praise the Lord! I haven’t had a salad for 15 years.”
But not all of the recipients were elderly.
“I had my teeth taken out when I was 19,” one young man who had had gum disease told us.
“I hadn’t smiled since.”
Throughout the years our emergency medical assistance program provided help to those at among the lowest points in their lives – when they didn’t know how they would pay for the medicines they needed to ease their suffering and make them well.
More recently our focus has been on preventing dental disease in children through our Mighty Molars program helping to ensure they will have their own teeth throughout their lifetimes and never need dentures.
This year alone, we plan on providing 4,000 children in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia with Mighty Molar dental kits which includes six toothbrushes, two tubes of toothpaste and 60 dental floss picks.
In many of the cases, the kits will be distributed by elementary schools which will have dental hygienists give a presentation on the importance of good oral hygiene and instruct them on how to properly brush and floss their teeth.
“Many of our students have told us they do not own a toothbrush,” reported our partner in Beattyville, Kentucky, the Lee County Family Resource Center, located in the town’s elementary school.
Our focus has also shifted to providing adults and seniors with eyeglasses as we have found while states such as Tennessee will provide low-income children with eye exams and prescription glasses, such is not the case for adults.
In Tennessee, working with our partner there, Of One Accord, we found out that while Medicaid covers the cost of an eye exam, it does not cover the cost of a pair of prescription eyeglasses.
We have heard instances where men and women were in jeopardy of losing their jobs because they could not pass the eye exam at the Department of Motor Vehicles without the pair of glasses they could not afford.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® over the years we were able to help thousands of our fellow Americans return to health, see clearly and eat the foods they love and no longer be shy about having a big, broad smile for everyone they meet.