A group from Covington First United Methodist Church recently traveled to Eastern Kentucky coal country to assist Red Bird Mission, an organization in Beverly, Ky., that provides several ministries to the surrounding Appalachian region.
The Covington group included 29 people, ages ranging from early teens to late 70s, and there was plenty of work to be done by all.
The area has many critical needs and is challenged by chronic poverty and poor housing. It depends heavily on the coal-mining industry. Because many mines have shut down and others operate only seasonally, there is a severe shortage of available jobs.
Red Bird Mission began providing help to the area in 1921. Its ministries include health and wellness services (through a community clinic); educational opportunities through the Red Bird Mission School; community outreach programs; economic opportunities such as a local craft store; and community housing improvement.
Housing support includes Work Camp, a program that brings in groups from all over the country who fund and carry out housing projects throughout the area.
The group from Covington First UMC took part in Work Camp, completing several projects for local residents in need.
One was for an elderly woman whose tin roof was in severe need of repair. The workers, led by a Red Bird Guide, gave her home a new shingle roof. Two other groups built new bathrooms onto houses, one of which was handicapped-accessible. For members of the group more suited to lighter work, there were small projects to tackle at the mission, such as working at the craft store or clearing land with a bobcat.
The group arrived in Kentucky on July 7 and began work the following day.
Wednesday was allotted as a free day for participants to rest and have some fun. Covington First chose to spend this day at Cumberland Gap National Park, before finishing up the week with two more days of projects.
The entire trip was successful, as the group was able to complete its assigned projects and help those in need.