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A sad day here

23 Feb

Today is a little bit of a sad day here at Christian Help.  We’re saying goodbye to longtime staffer Ruth Newsome, the dispatcher for our transit program, who has accepted a position elsewhere.

Ruth is responsible, probably more directly than anyone else, for building that program into what it is today.  She has been a guiding force in making it responsive, efficient, and human.

Ruth has been working at Christian Help since 2001.  As she steps into a new direction in her life, we wish her well and offer deep gratitude for her many years of service to the agency and to so many people in our region.


A lot of people served, a lot of love given!

17 Feb

At tonight’s meeting  of the Christian Help board of directors, I’ll present some 2010 year-in-review figures that offer a helpful picture of  the service we provided through the year.   I’ll share them with you, too.  As you can see, there’s a lot of good going on here!

Numbers of clients helped through Direct Aid (financial assistance):

Electric bills     674

Natural gas bills     7

Other home heating fuels     9

Water bills     87

Rent     29

Medicine     90

Glasses     31

Eye exams     14

Dental     127

Gasoline     1,332

Auto repairs     70

Home repairs     79

Clothing, personal, household, etc     118

Total Direct Aid clients     2,753

Food pantry clients

Households served           2,757

Individuals served           5,068

Transit figures

Passenger trips         10,499

Miles of service       102,496

Total clients signed in at front desk through the year     8,001

(figure includes visits to clothing store, food pantry, furniture warehouse, burn-out room, and Sr. Therese’s office—note: some don’t bother to sign in)

Remember, the community of Kermit that we call home has an official population of about 200.  Clearly we’re serve a population far beond the borders of the town.

Most of this work happens through donations from people like you.  Please consider making a gift today, either by mail (Christian Help, P.O. Box 1257, Kermit, WV 25674), or by clicking the DONATE NOW button in the sidebar on the right.  Thanks for considering it!

Important funding for Transit

3 Feb

Here’s some good news for a lot of folks in our part of the world. Christian Help of Mingo County has been awarded important grant funding from not one but two regional foundations recently.

The Logan Healthcare Foundation has awarded the agency $50,000. An additional $15,000 was presented by the McDonough Foundation. Both grants are to support our free transit service during 2011.

As our friends and supporters know, the transit service takes hundreds of people every month to doctors’ appointments, pharmacies, grocery stores, and more. Many passengers who use the service are either elderly or disabled.
2010 was the busiest year for this service since it was introduced ten years ago. It provided over 10,000 passenger rides during the year, and the agency’s three vans together travelled over 100,000 miles.
A few days ago, I posted some photos from a local holler. As I said, travelling these hollers is not easy even if you have reliable transportation. If you don’t, it’s almost impossible. That’s what makes Christian Help’s transit service so important to the people we serve.
The new grants will cover about half of expenses budgeted for the service during 2011. Some of the remainder is provided by state funding, and the rest must come from gifts from individual donors.

Comments, we get comments

3 Feb

I enjoy reading the comments that are left here from time to time by visitors to this blog. I think many others probably don’t even realize they’re there, because they’re easy to miss.

Like this comment, that was left here yesterday, connected to my most recent post on “Travelling the hollers.” The visitor, who was kind enough to leave her full name, wrote:

Christian Help is the most reliable program in this area. They have been great friends to me and I appreciate their help more than words can describe. Without the transit van, I wouldn’t be able to even make my doctors appointments. I appreciate all the kind people who make donations to keep the vans running.

Thanks, Ida! That’s one I’d like the world to see — yes, because it’s good to know we’re doing something worthwhile, but also so that all the kind folks who send us donations (when they could be renting a movie or going out to eat instead) know how truly important they are.

Keep an eye on the “Recent Comments” box that’s near the top of the right hand sidebar of this blog. That’s the easiest place to find what other people who visit here have to say.

And feel free to leave a comment of your own!

Travelling the hollers

25 Jan

I was in one of the transit vans with Ruth this morning, as she went to pick up a passenger.  Addy needed a ride to a local doctor’s office.  In the top photo is Ruth, on the right, welcoming her aboard. 

Anyway, I snapped a few pictures on the way, too, because the trip provided a nice illustration of why our transit service is so important.  So many folks around here live far down rugged roads winding through the narrow hollers that are squeezed between these mountains.  (It was tough to get a photo of the road extending any further than that first photo below, because the road is all curves, and you almost never see more than a few yards ahead of you.)

Buses don’t go there, and there are no taxis around here.  If you don’t have reliable transportation and need to get somewhere, you have a problem. 

These are photos of Stonecoal Holler, taken just this morning.  My thanks to Addy for her permission to take her picture.

From Mingo County Commission: important funding and strong words of praise and support

18 Aug

I wish you, our Christian Help friends and supporters, could have been present at the regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission this morning, in Williamson, WV, our county seat.  I’d asked to be on the agenda of that meeting, to request funding from the Commission for Christian Help’s Transit Program. 

As I explained to the Commissioners, the Transit Program is funded by significant grants from the Logan Healthcare Foundation and the WV Division of Public Transit.  Once those funds are depleted, we budget to spend some of our private donations to finish out the year.  A harsh winter combined with a very high increase in electricity rates led to an onslaught in requests for help with utility bills throughout the spring.  (In April 2009, we spent around $4,000 in help with utility bills.  In April 2010, we spent over $14,000.) 

So some of the money that we’d earmarked for transit was spent on financial aid.  I requested $3,000 from the Commission to help fund the Transit during the final months of the year. 

The next part is where I’d have liked you to have been present.  The County Commissioners could not say enough good things about Christian Help over the next few minutes.  In particular, they commented several times on the extraordinary service that our agency offered to people during the difficult winter.  They were aware of the troubles caused by the spike in electricity rates, and they commented that many people were unable to find much relief at all from government agencies designed for this purpose. 

“Christian Help really stepped up to help out a whole lot of people in our county during that hard time,” said Commissioner Smith.  “They’re to be commended.”

Following this encouraging discussion, the Commissioners chose to give Christian Help $5,000 ($2,000 more than I had requested!) in funding for Transit. 

The Commission’s grants administrator and emergency management official, both of whom were sitting nearby and who attend each meeting, both expressed to me how unusual that is.  It’s far more common that an organization might get less than they’d requested, and only after the Commissioners had “made ’em sweat” through some questioning.

Clearly, the County Commissioners hold Christian Help of Mingo County in high regard.  I was moved and humbled by it this morning, and wanted very much to share it with you.

Putting on the miles

12 Jul

Looking over our transit program’s statistics for the month of June 2010, I see we transported clients a total of 10,434 miles during the month!  (That’s pretty close to our record-setting April 2010.) 

Most of those miles were trips to doctors’ offices, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.  The people we transport generally have few others choices for transportation in and out of these hollers, up, down, and around these mountains.  And every one of those miles of driving was provided to our clients completely free of charge.

In the photo is Sandy, one of our drivers, leaving one of our transit vans, as she comes in from a shift.  We have two, and sometimes three, drivers on the road every weekday, and a full-time dispatcher as well.