WPU Students Help Appalachian Family In Need

WPU students and staff posing for a group picture outside of Appalachain family house

By Christiane Newell

Twelve WPU students, including myself, and two staff members spent their Fall break working with the Appalachia Service Project in Jonesville, Virginia. ASP is an organization based around central Appalachia that brings volunteers together to repair homes for families in need.

From October 11th thru October 15th, we worked on two homes belonging to a mother and her daughter, code-named “Rambo” and “Artist”.

At Rambo’s house, we built a gravel path, fixed her driveway, stained a retaining wall and covered a drainage pipe in her backyard. The work at Artist’s house included painting the walls in her son’s room, staining a picnic table and painting trim. However, the work we did for these families is not nearly as important as what they did for us.

“We left Raleigh thinking that we were going to the mountains to help a family in need,” said Josie Carmona, a senior at WPU.

“We left the mountains having gained more than anything from that family.”

The families we worked with gave us nothing but love and affection; they were so appreciative for what we were doing for them.

They wanted to get to know us as well as they could in the short time we spent with them.

Rambo told us stories about other ASP volunteers who had come and helped her, along with showing us her journal, where she writes about every single ASP volunteer she meets. I’m sure she’s written all about the volunteers from WPU already.

She told us about her run-ins with copperhead snakes, bears, and poisonous spiders, and showed us her collection of hunting knives. One of the most fun moments of the trip was shooting off bottle rockets with Rambo. She definitely earned her nickname.

“The families that we worked with really touched my heart,” said Lauren Swilley, a first year student.

“They are so happy and content with the little things that they have. The experience definitely changed me and I will never forget it. I can’t wait to go back and do it again.”

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