Volunteer group helps repair homes and lives
MAGOFFIN COUNTY – While the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) is celebrating 50 years of repairing homes and transforming lives, the mission group is back in Magoffin County for their 15th year.
ASP Regional Coordinator Kristina Rowles stopped by the Independent office to talk about the ministry and their community outreach.
Rowles explained that ASP was started by Rev. Glenn “Tex” Evans in 1969, who saw kids wanting to help other people, as well as the needs in the community, and decided to take that energy and turn it into something good and new. Starting in Knox County, Kentucky, the organization now reaches five different states in the Appalachian region, and has served Magoffin County since 2004.
“We’re excited to continue working here,” Rowles said.
The group of volunteers from all over the country stays at the Herald Whitaker Middle School and works at 15 to 20 homes in the community during the summer.
“We do home repairs, flooring, foundation repair, porches, ramps, tin roofs, bathroom repair – anything to make it warmer, safer and drier,” Rowles explained.
The group works with Big Sandy Community Action Program, which collects applications, but homeowners in need can apply for assistance on their website, at www.asphome.org/apply.
Rowles isn’t just a voice for the company, having volunteered while in high school in 2005, working five summers for ASP and a full-time employee for three years, she has participated hands-on in the repairs.
“It’s a grace gift and anyone should be able to live in a home that is warm, safe and dry,” Rowles said.
ASP hires 120 college students to run the program each summer, with the program funded solely on grants, donations, volunteer fees, and mission fees, but the home repairs come at no cost to the homeowners.
“One family we worked for in Knox County, Kentucky stands out the most to me,” Rowles remembered. “It was a grandmother who had received custody of 10 grandchildren and only had two bedrooms and a couple of beds. We added an additional five bedrooms and a bathroom, and even found funding for the beds.”
When they arrived early the morning the beds were going to be delivered, Rowles said there were kids sleeping on the hardwood floors.
“They just kept telling us to tell whoever sent the beds ‘thank you,’” Rowles remembered. “The kids had been through a lot and to give them good influences and a bed, it is really special to be able to do.”
She explained that their ministry provides helping hands in hopes that will be enough to cause positive changes moving forward.
“We hope to help them with a leg up and hope they help someone else down the road,” Rowles said.
Anyone wanting to volunteer, partner with or donate to ASP can contact Kristina Rowles at (423) 480-0303 or email Kristina@ASPhome.org.