2019 ASP Dates Announced

  Jesse Lee ASP has announced the dates for the 2019 rally, orientations, and trip. We’re starting earlier, so be sure to get these on your calendar now and don’t miss out…

January 17
Introductory Meeting for new participants and parents

January 30 -or- February 5*
The 2019 Rally

February 27 -or- March 5*
Orientation 1
Registration Deadline

April 3 -or- April 9*
Orientation 2

May 1 -or- May 7*
Orientation 3

June 5
Orientation 4

June 29 – July 7
ASP 2019 Trip

*You can attend the Rally and Orientations 1, 2 and 3 on either night they are offered.

ASP Volunteers Return Home Today


4:00 P.M

After spending the last week repairing homes in Appalachia, Jesse Lee’s volunteers are on their way home today. The crews drove part of the way home last night, stopping over in Williamsport, MD. Last night they shared a time of worship and this morning they were back on the road, bound for Ridgefield.

 Each caravan will make its way to the rendezvous point, where they will pose for a group picture before being escorted by the Ridgefield Police back to Jesse Lee. Family and friends should meet us at the church. Upon return, the caravan will park in the back commuter parking lot. Parking is available for guests in the main church lot.

  This story will be updated with our latest arrival time estimates.

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

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.

Senior Skills Training

Youth and adults who have participated in ASP for at least one year have the opportunity to replace wheelchair ramp building with senior skills training.

Everyone needs to wear proper work site attire: long pants, a shirt that tucks in (no sleeveless shirts; no low necklines), work boots (no sneakers). Participants with improper attire will be sent home. Everyone needs to bring a 16 oz. hammer, a pair of safety glasses, a pair of work gloves, a tape measure, and a pencil. Lunch will be provided.

At the orientations, you will hear about this year’s “senior skills” projects.  

Senior Skills will be held on the following dates:
Saturday, March 7
Saturday, April 4
Saturday, May 2
Saturday, June 6

Volunteers should meet in the Jesse Lee parking lot at 8:45 a.m.  The estimated end time is 5:30 p.m. but could be earlier or later depending on the job.

Contact: John Ward, 475-204-8932

Senior Skills Sign Ups

Special Information for College Students

We know that being away at college makes it very difficult to attend all the orientations and car washes. (That’s why “young adult” leader status is only extended to our veterans.) Don’t worry, we have you covered.

The “young adult” category is tricky, because while it comes with additional privileges, it also comes with additional responsibilities. And yet, we can’t extend quite all the privileges and responsibilities of the older adults.

For example, you aren’t yet old enough to drive the vans, unless it’s an emergency. It’s possible we’ll be putting you on a crew as one of the two adult leaders. You will get to come to all the adult leader meetings at the center. You’ll also have to shower during the adult shower time. You are close to the same age as the youth, so you have a cool factor and they’ll want you to hang out with them–and we want that too. We expect you to know, exemplify, and help enforce the ASP rules, and we will expect the youth to respect your authority the same as any other adult in that regard.

One responsibility that usually falls to the young adults is acting as chaperones in the youth sleeping area during the trips down and back. By counting on you to oversee things, our drivers can be well-rested and our driving time will be safer.

We are really glad to have you coming on the trip again! We know that you can’t make it to all the events leading up to the trip, however, if you are home when an activity takes place, we would expect you to be in attendance.

There will be a separate meeting in June for all the young adults that will be going on ASP this year.  Please check the calendar and be sure to make note of the date.

Background Verification

All adult volunteer (anybody out of high school) need to submit to a background check once every three years. The background check form and a copy of our policy and procedure can be found on our Forms page.


  • All adults (those out of high school at least 1 year) need to submit to a background check every three years.
  • This will be done on the same basis as all other Jesse Lee Memorial UMC background checks.
  • If there is a conviction or plea of no contest for any situation that may disqualify an adult volunteer, then the individual will not be allowed to volunteer with Jesse Lee ASP.
  • If there is a conviction of plea of no contest for a driving related offense of the individual has had a suspended driver’s license withing the past 5 years, then the individual will be able to volunteer with Jesse Lee ASP but will NOT be able to drive at any time during the trip.


  1. Our Forms Director will collect the background verification authorization forms in sealed envelopes.
  2. The Forms Director will log in who has turned in an envelope.
  3. The Forms Director will give the sealed envelope to the church administrator.
  4. The church administrator will run the background check by submitting the info on the forms to the Church’s background check company.
  5. The church administrator will mail a copy of the report to the individual and file a copy with Social Security number blacked out in a locked, secure storage.
  6. If there is any situation that may disqualify an adult volunteer on the report:
    • The church administrator will inform Jesse Lee’s senior pastor.
    • The senior pastor will contact the individual and tell them that they cannot go on with Jesse Lee’s ASP group.
    • Either the individual or the senior pastor will inform someone on the ASP council that the individual will not be going on ASP. The reason for not going does not need to be disclosed.
    • The senior pastor will make sure that the individual is not on the final list of adults going on the trip.
  7. If there is a driving related offense on the report:
    • The church administrator will notify one of the ASP council directors.
    • An ASP council director will contact the individual and tell them that they cannot drive on the Jesse Lee ASP trip.
    • The ASP council director will notify the individual’s center leaders that that person cannot drive on the trip.

Packing and Departing

The success of the ASP trip is highly dependent on proper preparation, and that is true for packing. Every participant should download the packing list and follow the instructions carefully.

We will pack the vans on Friday night at 6:30 PM. We will gather for departure at 7:30 AM on Saturday. Be sure to bring a lunch.

Do not bring laptops, tablets or lots of money, If you bring cell phones you may not use them at the work site other than to take occasional pictures. Although we do the best we can, we cannot ensure the security of any valuable items at the center.

Laundry facilities are NOT available so bring enough clothes for the entire week. Expect a week of dirt, sweat, paint and tar. Do not pack your favorite shirt or best jeans for work.

Sweatpants, shorts, half shirts, halter tops are not allowed at the work site. All clothing worn at the center must be modest (i.e., no short shorts, halters). Apparel may not display beer/alcohol slogans or obscenities.

Be sure to mark the tools that you bring, because they will tend to look a lot like somebody else’s. The same consideration might be given to your work boots.

How to Pack

Pack two bags: a bag for the week, and an overnight bag for the trip down Saturday and Sunday.

Use a soft duffle bag for your week-bag–no hard suitcases or duffles with wheels. You will bring your week-bag to Jesse Lee Friday evening before the trip. Make sure that you check in with your crew leader and place your week-bag in your crew’s van. If your bag goes to the wrong county, it cannot be retrieved.

Be sure you have everything in your overnight bag that you will need for Saturday night and Sunday–sleeping clothes, fresh clothes for the morning, tooth brush, deodorant, medications,  and so forth. You will not have access to your week-bag until you arrive at the center on Sunday afternoon.

Bring a Lunch

Be sure to bring a lunch that you can eat on the way down Saturday. We stop at a rest stop for lunch, where there is no place to buy food.

Download the Packing List

Stock Sales

Everyone participating in ASP is expected to sell at least 25 shares of $10 “ASP Stock.”


Contact: Karen Doman, 630-251-4320


Here is how you sell ASP stock:

1. Reach Out & Contact People.
Reach out and contact people who might be able to support you for $10. Checks should be made out to “Jesse Lee ASP Group.”

2. Stock Sales Report Form.
Keep track of everybody to whom you sell stock. Record their names and mailing addresses on the form. This form must accompany every check. It’s how we send them the thank you notes, so write legibly.

Download the ASP Stock Sales Report Form

3. Stock Prospectus and Certificate.
Make sure the each person receives a copy of the Stock Certificate.Print the prospectus double-sided and fold it in half for the best presentation.

Download the ASP Stock Certificate
Download the ASP Stock Prospectus

4. People Can Also Buy Stock Online.
People can also buy stock on your behalf online with a credit card. Anybody who uses this option will be able to download the prospectus and certificate themselves. You will not need to record their information on the report form because the online form will capture all the information we will need.

5. Sample Letter to Friends & Relatives
If you would like a sample letter/email that you can send to friends and relatives, feel free to use this text:

Dear Aunt Sally (obviously, change this if your aunt’s name isn’t Sally),

I’m writing to let you know that I will be participating in the Appalachia Service Project this summer. We will be going into the Appalachian region for a week to work on homes and help make them warmer, safer, and drier. We will stay in a center, probably a school, with volunteers from other parts of the U.S. and we will work along side the families who live there.

We’ll be doing stuff like repairing roofs, fixing or replacing floors, installing sheet rock and insulation, painting, digging drainage ditches, building room additions or porches, siding the exterior or perhaps some simple plumbing and electrical work.

To get ready for this trip, each one of us has to spend at least eight hours learning carpentry skills; at least eight hours learning about the people in Appalachia and about living in the center; and at least eight hours fund raising. We have two main fund raising efforts: car washes and stock sales.

You probably guessed that that’s the reason for my letter.

I need to sell at least twenty-five shares of stock in our Project at $10 per share. I’d like you to consider investing in our Project. It is a great way for me to learn and to serve! And, it’s also a way for us to help people who need it. I think that you will find being a part of our Project is a great return on your investment!

Although the Appalachia Service Project volunteers from Ridgefield are from many denominations and faiths, our Project is sponsored by Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church. This means that all donations are tax deductible.

If you would like to invest in our Project by buying one or more shares of stock, please send me $10 for each share you would like to buy. Checks should be made payable to “Jesse Lee ASP Group.” Or, you can go online to www.JesseLeeASP.org and purchase the stock there.

I really appreciate your help because we couldn’t do it without the support of our friends and families.

Thanks, and I’ll try to write more often…

Car Washes

ASP participants are required to work a car wash prior to the trip. Car washes are held on Saturdays in April, May and June, in the front driveway of Jesse Lee, with two shifts: 10:30 AM – 1:45 PM, and 1:30 PM – 4:45 PM.

Shorts that are not too short and sandals or flip-flops are permitted at car washes. T-shirts need to adhere to the same guidelines as work site T-shirts (long enough to tuck in, no sleeveless shirts, no low necklines).

In case of rain, you might get a message that the car wash has been canceled. If you do not receive a message, you should report at the regular time, as there may be an alternative project for you to work on.

Contact: Bill and Sharon Dornfeld, 203-241-8705

Car Wash Sign Ups