Union hosts Appalachia Service Project, which completes $40 thousand in home repairs

Published on
August 05, 2013

During its inaugural year in 1969, Appalachia Service Project, a national ministry for home repair, established its first work camp center at Union College, which housed 50 volunteers who repaired four Knox County homes.

This summer, ASP again moved to campus for several weeks, repairing 14 homes—including 11 in the Stinking Creek area—with the help of 501 volunteers.

Annie White, center director for the Knox County team, said the four-person leadership group was able to complete $40 thousand in repairs to roofs, floors and drainage systems. They also remodeled homes and built one new-room addition.

White said that working in Knox County was a rewarding, enriching experience, not only because of the help she and her team could provide to the area, but also because of the natural beauty.
“Compared to other places I have worked, I absolutely loved being in Knox County,” White said. “It is a beautiful area with beautiful scenery, and the people are so friendly.”

She added that it was also nice to work the area where ASP got its start. Since the program began in Barbourville 44 years ago, it has expanded to serve 32 counties in five central Appalachian states.

White was joined this summer by three other permanent staff: Anthony Reyna, volunteer coordinator; Katie Glowicki, finance coordinator; and Virginia Debbink, operations coordinator. The staff and volunteers were housed on Union’s campus, free of charge.

The history of ASP is long and rich and begins in Knox County. Under the leadership of ASP’s founder the late Rev. Glenn “Tex” Evans, a small group of volunteers succeeded in making just a few Barbourville homes warmer, safer and drier. This team had $800 to buy materials and maintain “Pinky,” their first donated vehicle, which was a pink station wagon. Evans had served as director at Henderson Settlement in Frakes, Ky., where he saw the region’s housing needs. He is often quoted as saying, “We accept people right where they are, just the way they are.”

Today, the number of volunteers has grown to over 300,000, who have repaired more than 15,000 homes in 31 impoverished Appalachian communities. The Christian approach fosters transformational experiences for everyone involved and builds relationships that break down cultural, social and economic barriers. The particular focus to recruit young volunteers encourages the development of service-minded communities.