Once again in 2021, volunteers from Rockford United Methodist Church participated in Appalachia Service Project. Their work with ASP made homes warmer, safer, and drier.
Ruth Reickard reports that Rockford United Methodist Church has now completed 32 consecutive years of ministry through the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). In 2021 Rockford volunteers traveled to West Charleston, WV, “to make poverty-level homes warmer, safer, and drier.”
The pandemic did not interrupt the church’s ministry in Appalachia. The ASP summer youth program was canceled in 2020, but three crews of adults went to Tennessee in late September to work on three homes.
Reickard says that the 2021 team consisted of four crews and two floaters (13 youth and 15 adults). “This is only the third time the group has been in an urban setting,” Reickard notes. “Usually we have worked up in the hollers.” She adds, “The homelessness and boarded-up homes within the city were eye-opening.”
Hands were put to work replacing leaky roofs, installing new siding, and putting up insulation and drywall. “Three of the homes were owned by elderly ladies and one by a West Charleston police officer and his family,” Reickard says.
Additional love was shared by Rockford UMC’s Sewing Ladies, who made quilts for each of the families in the renovated homes.
ASP is about relationships, life skills, and putting hands to work for Jesus. “We stayed in an old downtown church, and it served as an excellent center. Some of the new youth did chores there for the very first time!” Reickard observes.
The 2021 theme was Onward. “That encouraged us to keep doing God’s work and never grow weary of doing good,” Reickard concludes.
Appalachia Service Project has provided transformational experiences for volunteers since 1969. According to their website, “more than 15,000 volunteers serve with ASP each year, providing critical repairs for more than 350 families.”
Many Michigan churches, in addition to Rockford UMC, have sent volunteers to Central Appalachia through the ASP program. All have glimpsed and brought to life the vision of that organization: “the eradication of substandard housing in Central Appalachia and the transformation of everyone who comes in contact with this ministry.”