For one week this summer members of the Howland United Methodist Church worked in the hot weather making repairs to homes and other buildings in Kentucky as part of the annual mission trip Appalachia Service Project.
This is the 18th year the church has taken part of ASP.
ASP is a Christian ministry open to all people that fosters human development by addressing the housing needs of Central Appalachia.
Special to Howland Community News
Members of the Howland United Methodist Church worked this summer on the Appalachia Service Project helping low income families in Kentucky’s Appalachia district with home repairs and construction projects. It is the 18th year the church has worked with ASP. See more photos on Page 6.
Bill Headland, church coordinator for the mission trip, said the group of 18 youths and 10 adults went in late June.
''Our youth do a great job and really help people,'' Headland said, indicating the youth have a different outlook after taking part in the mission trip and seeing how they can help others.
Lee Giesecke, a group leader from the church, said his team retiled a floor, remodeled a trailer and built a back porch for one resident.
Headland said low-income families needing assistance sign up in advance and ASP selects which homes will be worked on. The ASP centers are run by college students, he said. Headland's daughter, Melissa, is a staff member for ASP.
Many factors - such as urgency for repair, safety for volunteers and whether a project can be completed in eight weeks - come into play when selecting homes, participants said.
The program has volunteers helping with homes in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia.
The Howland church had four teams of seven members each that were assigned to Jeff, Ky., in Hazard County where there were 10 to 12 houses needing work. Work included adding insulation, repairing and replacing roofs, repairing floors, adding stairs, tearing out flooring or shrubbery, putting in windows and building porches.
Many homes lack adequate heating, kitchens and plumbing.
''Each trip is different. Many of the houses are in poor condition. Our group installed a new bathtub and ceiling in a bathroom. Another team did flooring and other basic home repairs,'' Headland said.
ASP's motto is ''Warmer, Safer and Drier.'' Between 12,000 and 15,000 volunteers from across the nation help each summer, Headland said.
''This is a different culture. The one reason we go there is to get our kids out of their comfort zone and have them committed to the project. There are families in need in our own areas, but there are also those in far worse need in other places,'' Headland said.
Headland said college and high school students took part on the trip. Headland said over the years former participants who were teens when they went are now in their 20s and early 30s coming back to help.
The project also involves ''bringing God's love to families'' while helping people repair their homes, Headland said.
In past years, the church members worked on repairing homes in Perry County, Kentucky and Raleigh County, West Virginia, which have high poverty rates and hundreds of applicants.
Headland said that as homes are repaired relationships are developed with the homeowners and their children.
A typical day starts with morning devotions and breakfast, preparing lunches, loading supplies and heading for the work sites. The majority of the day is working. After work, dinner is held followed by evening gatherings with local entertainment, storytelling, scripture, prayer and experiencing local culture.