High-school students and adults from the Ridgefield area are on their annual Appalachia Service Project mission trip this week, with 174 volunteers working to make homes “warmer, safer and drier” in two counties in Virginia.
Based out of Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, Jesse Lee ASP is in its 39th year and is one of the largest local ASP groups in the country.
The 174 traveling volunteers departed early Saturday morning after a commissioning ceremony at Jesse Lee with family and friends. They split up, working this week in Wise and Dickenson counties in western Virginia. Crews of two adults and four students team up to repair, build or replace roofs, foundations, mobile-home underpinning and wheelchair ramps, while also developing relationships with the homes’ residents. They’re eating and sleeping in “centers” organized and operated in schools and churches by the national ASP organization.
Saturday’s departure celebration included recognition of 10 Ridgefield teens who have participated in ASP during all four years of high school. They are: Max Barlow, Sophie Browning, Maya Chauhan, Ryder Dadasovich, Caroline DelGiudice, Alex Doman, Kenny Muller, Matt Neligan, Henry Osher and Alex Prokopczyk.
Additionally, another recent RHS graduate, Hank Idone, was named the recipient of the John Ward Love in Action Award, a $1,000 scholarship established in 2017 that honors John Ward, who is in his 35th year of participating in Jesse Lee ASP. The scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior who has been on ASP at least once and who has committed to ongoing community service in other arenas besides ASP.
The ASP volunteers will return to Ridgefield in a long honking caravan on Sun., July 9 around 5 p.m. for a welcoming reception at Jesse Lee. For an updated time of return, watch the website www.jesseleeasp.org on Sunday afternoon.
Funds to support Jesse Lee ASP’s work were raised through car washes held at Jesse Lee on Saturdays this spring, from “stock” sold by participants, and through gifts from the Jesse Lee congregation.
Jesse Lee ASP will celebrate its 2023 work in two ways: with an ice cream social at the church on Sat., July 15 at 6:30 p.m. featuring a slide show of all the crews’ experiences; and a special Sunday-morning service at Jesse Lee on July 16 at 9:30 a.m. All are invited to both.
In addition to the volunteers working this week in Virginia, two Ridgefield women are working in Appalachia all summer as paid ASP staff members. Claire Dollins is program manager at ASP’s main center in Jonesville, VA, while Bella Lussi is finance coordinator in Breathitt County, KY. Their tasks include helping to evaluate applications from homeowners, stocking the “center” with tools and supplies, planning and overseeing home repairs, hosting and assisting the weekly teams of volunteers, and much more.
Appalachia Service Project is a national Christian volunteer organization whose participants make an annual weeklong mission trip where they work to make local folks’ homes “warmer, safer and drier.” Since its founding in 1969, more than 420,000 volunteers from across the nation have repaired 18,500 homes in central Appalachia.
For more information about the local Appalachia Service Project, call Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church at (203) 438-8791 or go to www.jesseleeasp.org.