Archive | April, 2011

Easter baskets!

21 Apr

Every year, Christian Help distributes Easter baskets to the children of many of the families we serve. 

This week we distributed 125 baskets to local kids!  Here’s a photo of one of ’em, picking up his basket with his family at our place.  In the photo below, the table of baskets waiting for good homes.

We do this thanks to the kind donation of Frank I. of Sharon, Connecticut, a friend of Christian Help who faithfully sends a check each March marked “Easter baskets.”  We’re also thankful for the efforts of local Christian Help volunteers, who put a lot of  time into shopping for the items and putting them together into beautiful baskets.  And one more thank you two nearby businesses who provided the Easter basket items at a discount for us: Food City in South Williamson, KY, and Rite Aid in Warfield, KY.

Have a happy Easter!


Our crew

13 Apr

Because a large donation of new shirts recently came through our doors, Sr. Therese was able to arrange for the printing of names and Christian Help logos on several of them at very little expense. We got a shirt for each of the staff and volunteers in our clothing store. Not everyone was available for the impromtu photo, but here’s a bunch of our crew.

Going left to right, that’s Tiffany Newsome, Minne Fitchpatrick, me, Art Spurlock, Kathy Spurlock, Maggie Messer, Mina Hammond, and Sr. Therese Carew.

Big news: A $4000 gift? Make that $8000! With your help.

12 Apr

The other day I told you about The Great Friendraising Challenge.  We’re asking our current supporters to tell their friends and family about the important work we do here, and suggest to them that they consider a gift themselves. 

I also told you we’ve built some competition into this effort: Whichever agency — Christian Help or ABLE Families — gets more first-time donations between now and May 15 gets a $4,000 gift from a longtime, generous donor.

Well here’s an update:  Another friend of both agencies who saw this effort sent me a note the other day, telling me that he’d like  to add another $4,000 gift to the reward for whichever ageny gets more first-time donors!

So, that’s now $8,000 that will go directly either Christian Help or ABLE Families.  One agency will get it.  If Christian Help receives more first-time donations than ABLE Families in the next few weeks, it’ll be us.  If we don’t, it won’t.

That $8,000 would go directly to helping impoverished families in Mingo County — a mighty helpful gift to support what we do.  Care to help?  Talk us up.  Let your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family know what we’re up to here, and how important the work we do is to the people we serve.  Have them take a look at our website (we just added a new “MEDIA” page, with videos) or this blog (which is updated often with news and photos about what goes on here). 


A note from recent visitors (and new friends)

11 Apr

I want to draw your attention to a comment left on this blog earlier today. We’ve had several posts here about the recent visit of students from St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Geneva, IL, as well as a few other student groups we’ve hosted lately. Each of the groups have done some wonderful works of service here in Mingo County.

Anyway, I posted here about the people from our region who we’ve invited to come give presentations to these students, to help them understand central Appalachia’s culture, history, and economy.

Mary Kay Rogers, one of the adult leaders of the St. Peter’s group, left a comment on that post earlier today that I’d hope that not only our presenters, but also our local folks can see. She wrote:

Many thanks to all of the guest speakers!! We had our post trip reunion yesterday, and the students ALL agreed that the educational component of our stay in Kermit was awesome. It gave all of us a better sense of Appalachia from several vantage points and hopefully helped us be better servants during our stay.

THANKS for the opportunity to visit and serve in Mingo County, WV. We have fallen in love with the people you serve and your beautiful landscape!

So it’s mutual, because we loved having them as well!

The Great Friendraising Challenge has begun!

5 Apr

Last week our supporters received a letter inviting them to participate in the Great Friendraising Challenge. It’s an effort to introduce new people to the work of Christian Help.

To make it fun, we’ve added a bit of a challenge to it, and also the possibility to get an extra $4,000 donation for the people we serve.

As you probably know, Christian Help shares building space with a sister agency, ABLE Families. They are two distinct agencies, founded sixteen years ago by two remarkable women. They each have separate staff (who are amazing), separate boards of directors (who are highly committed), separate missions (which are vitally important) – and for the most part, separate supporters (each and every one of whom are, of course, wonderful). I have the privilege to serve as executive director of both.

We thought it would be fun to offer a challenge to the supporters of both agencies. Here it is: Which group can introduce more new people to their agency by inviting them to make a donation? Which group – Christian Help supporters or ABLE Families supporters – can make more new friends for their cause?

Care to help? Talk us up with your family and friends, your co-workers and colleagues. Tell them, “If you’re looking for a great organization to support, so you’ll know your money is being used to do some wonderful and effective things to reduce poverty right here in the United States, here it is.”

Email notes and Facebook posts are good. (Make it easy and include a link to our website for those.) But quick, personal suggestions to your brother and daughter and neighbor – on the phone, over lunch, after church – are probably even better.

The agency which ends up with the highest number of donations from people who have never before given will be declared the winner. (But seriously, in this effort, who could ‘lose’??)

So what does the winner get? Of course, the aim is for both agencies to end up with some new friendships that will last a long time. That will help us carry out our mission with a secure future, so the real winners are the people we serve.

But besides that, all of the employees of the agency which receives fewer new donations will work for a full day for the winning agency. For one day, one agency’s office will be vacant, while the other’s is humming with the activity of a helpful bunch of additional staff!

And here’s something exciting: To add an additional dash of spice to the fun and give us all some added incentive: A generous donor has agreed to make a special donation of $4,000 to whichever agency wins!!

The Great Friendraising Challenge ends May 15. I’ll report the winner to you here on the blog and in our regular June print newsletter.

Thank you very much in advance for anything you could do to let your friends, family and acquaintances know about the important work we do. Though we want to make this effort into a fun competition, there’s nothing fun about living in poverty. Your efforts mean a lot to the people we serve.

So what are you waiting for? Call your brother!

Explaining what makes central Appalachia tick

4 Apr

Last week one of our visiting students approached me to say, “I want to thank you for all of the interesting people you’ve arranged to come visit us during our time here. It has really helped me understand a lot about this area.”

Besides providing opportunities for service to the student groups who come occasionally from high schools or colleges around the country, we also include in their visit a strong element of education about our region and its people, culture, economy, and history. To do that, we call on a variety of friends and collaborators from around the area, specialists in some aspect of life around here.

In the photo, for example, is Chris Newsome, safety director at Lee Sartin Trucking, a local trucking company that works closely with the state’s coal industry. He talked to our most recent group about the place of the coal industry in this part of the state and the nuts and bolts of how it all happens.

I want to offer our thanks to the following people who have given their time and insights to us and our visitors here at Christian Help and ABLE Families in recent weeks, speaking to one or more of several visiting groups. These folks donate their time to us, for the sake of helping others understand better what makes things tick in central Appalachia. They include:

Bill Richardson, West Virginia University Extension office

Rick Wilson, Society of Friends Service Committee’s Economic Justice Project

Nick Getzen, Thompson Barney Law Firm

Jenny Hudson and Philip Bryant, The JOBS Project

Chris Newsome, Lee Sartin Trucking

Warm thanks to each of them!

How are we doin’?

4 Apr

You can offer a ‘review’ of Christian Help on the Great Nonprofits website, here.  If we’ve served you and your family directly, pleasse tell the world how we helped.  If you’re a supporter, tell people why and what you think of the work we do. 

Thanks for considering it, and have a good week!