Gillian Retter Wins John Ward Award

  Jesse Lee ASP is excited to announce that the winner of the 2018 John Ward Love in Action Award is Gillian Retter, a recent graduate of Ridgefield High School and a 4-year participant of Appalachia Service Project.

  Gillian’s ASP experience started her freshman year when she was living in southern California.  Her church there traveled to Rutherfordton, in Rutherford County, North Carolina. “That week,” she says, “I found myself doing work I had never done with kids I didn’t know very well. One thing I did know, though, was that I had found something I loved.”

  When her family moved to Ridgefield later that summer, “I found Jesse Lee, and immediately fell in love with its youth group and huge ASP program. Since then, I have gone on ASP each summer.” She served with us in Knott County, Kentucky, in 2016, and Wise County, Virginia, in 2017. This year, Gillian will be serving in Leslie County, Kentucky.

  Her service to others extends beyond Appalachia. She has traveled to Belize with J:OLT, Jesse Lee’s high school group, to help build an elementary school. She is a member of the Unity Club and is a student volunteer for the Names Day anti-bullying assembly, and she volunteers with Meal on Wheels. But she is perhaps most excited about her work with Special Olympics. “I volunteer as a swim helper a few times a week, and it brings me immense joy,” she says, adding that the Special Olympians have taught her authentic love and happiness. “I have been blessed with the ability to interact with people with whom I may not always interact. I have been exposed to the intense reality that we’re not really that different.”

  Gillian is a competitive swimmer with the Ridgefield Aquatic Club, a member of the RHS Girls Varsity Swim Team, and belongs to the National Honor Society. As she looks ahead to the fall, she plans to attend Seattle University, majoring in Chemistry on the pre-med track. We are very pleased to present her with the John Ward Award.

John Ward

  The John Ward Love in Action Award was established by Jesse Lee ASP in 2017 to honor John Ward’s 30th Appalachia Service Project Trip. It is a $1000 grant given each year to a high school senior who has participated in ASP and dedicated themself to other forms of community service.

Winners of the John Ward Award have been:

  • 2018 – Gillian Retter
  • 2017 – Petros Papadopolous

Caitlyn and Alexa will Serve on ASP Summer Staff

  Jesse Lee is excited to announce that two of our longtime volunteers, Caitlyn Brandon (right) and Alexa Dragon (left), have been hired by Appalachia Service Project to work as summer staffers this year. 

  This will actually be Caitlyn’s second year on staff. She was the volunteer coordinator in Lincoln County, West Virginia, last summer. Her job included working with all of the group leaders who brought volunteers to work during the seven-week program. Caitlyn is just wrapping up her sophomore year at Georgetown University and is looking forward to being back in Central Appalachia this summer. She has been tapped to be the Center Director for Cocke County, Tennessee.

  Alexa will be a newcomer to staff, but she is no stranger to ASP. After volunteering with Jesse Lee during her sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school, she returned with us as a young adult volunteer last year. Her sophomore year at Clemson University is winding down, and she is very excited for the summer.

  Each county usually has four staffers. The operations coordinator makes sure the center runs smoothly. They are in charge of the meals, the vehicles, and cleanliness of the center. The finance coordinator takes care of all the money. That includes making sure that supplies are ordered and keeping the projects within budget. The volunteer coordinator communicates with all the groups before they come and while they are there. They collect all the paperwork and keep the center’s social media up to date. Then, there is the center director who manages the rest of the staff.

  Alexa won’t know her position or the county she’ll be assigned until the staff training week at the end of May.

  We’re excited for Caitlyn and Alexa, we support them fully, and we look forward to hearing all their stories!

ASP 35 for 35

In honor of our 35 continuous years of building relationships and making homes warmer, safer, and drier through the Appalachia Service Project, Jesse Lee announces, ASP 35 for 35.

We are hoping that our past participants and other supporters would make a gift of $35 (or more) toward this outreach.  Our goal is to have 1000 donors and to raise $35,000, enough to build two new homes for underprivileged families, or whatever the ASP leaders deem the greatest need.

Please use this link to make your gift.  If we exceed our $35,000 goal, the additional funds will support broader youth mission projects.  Thanks for your generosity and support in building principled youth who love, care and serve.