This summer 15 teens and seven adults from Hudson United Methodist Church did what other congregation members have done for more than four decades before them - they spent one week in the heart of Appalachia, helping to make homes warmer, safer and drier for some of the country's poorest residents.
Each year HUMC joins about 16,000 other volunteers to repair homes for 400 to 500 low-income families in rural areas of Central Appalachia. The service ministry - known as ASP, the Appalachian Service Project - was founded in 1969. Since then, more than 300,000 volunteers from across the nation have repaired 15,000 homes. HUMC has been a part of the service project since 1973.
HUMC Family Ministries Director Dani Dietzel said the annual mission trip provides an important opportunity for its youth members to give to those less fortunate. The high school aged volunteers perform many of the repairs themselves under the watchful eyes and guidance of adult volunteers and leaders.
"ASP is a week of the summer that our youth are willing and ready to serve others while being a beacon of God's love," Dietzel said. "This is our chance to give back in a non-traditional way and help those in need."
Dietzel and HUMC youth raised money for the ASP trip throughout the year. The biggest fundraiser is an annual auction held in the spring. Church members donate auction items and seek contributions from Hudson businesses. ASP volunteers also contribute toward the cost of the trip.
Many return year after year.
"The feedback from the volunteers is always positive," she said. "Everyone loved the family they worked with and loved getting to know each member of their team.°Many of the kids find ASP to be one of the best weeks or favorite weeks of the summer, and they look forward to volunteering again next summer."
"Our graduating seniors have also expressed interest in returning next year and a few are even considering joining the ASP summer staff."
Anyone interested in attending or supporting the 2017 ASP mission trip may contact Dani Dietzel by email at email@example.com (please put ASP 2017 in subject line) or by phone at 330-650-2650.