It is at this time each year that we look back on all that we have accomplished together – our organization, our grassroots partners in Appalachia, and, of course, our supporters who made it all possible during the past 12 months.
While the numbers of those assisted in a variety of ways is a major accomplishment, we never forget that each “number” is an individual – that child proudly walking into school on the first day of class with a backpack full of school supplies, or that disabled veteran who can now enter and exit their home thanks to a new, custom-built handicap ramp.
Food & Sustainability
In rural Appalachia, for many children, families, and the elderly living on meager fixed incomes it is an ongoing financial struggle to put food on the table every day when the rent must be paid to prevent eviction and possible homelessness, utility bills are overdue and the company threatening disconnection even on the coldest days of winter.
This past year, thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to provide grants to our grassroots partners in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and elsewhere to support their food banks which served 18,879 individuals, delivered 9,775 boxes of food enough to feed a family of four for a week and served 8,430-holiday meals.
In addition, through our agricultural program support, 984 low-income and elderly individuals received fresh, locally-grown produce from a community garden in Kentucky, while in Virginia 20 families received training, tools, and supplies to start a garden in their own backyards.
From pre-school through high school, many schools in rural Appalachia don’t have access to the same educational resources available to students in more affluent areas.
But through our educational support program, we provided grants of over $100,000 to our partners who operate afterschool programs which benefited over 150 students last year. To ensure that students get off to a great new school year with all the items they need, we distributed 3,480 school supply kits to our partners to provide to children so they are prepared for school on the first day of classes, as well as 100 laptops for children in families with no computer at home.
This past year, we also sponsored a science fair at a Kentucky middle/high school for its first time ever which drew more than 400 eager competitors who conducted experiments testing their knowledge of the natural world.
Countless tens of thousands of low-income disabled and elderly homeowners in Appalachia have little to no choice but to continue to live in their substandard, even dangerous, homes because they lack the means to repair roofs, rotting floors, porches, and steps, or pay the cost of having a desperately needed handicap ramp to allow them to enter and exit their home on their own.
Last year, we provided $69,000 in grant funding to our partners in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia who combined made repairs to more than 100 homes.
Among them was an Air Force veteran in Tennessee suffering from health issues which left him confirmed to a wheelchair and living in an unsafe home with rotting wood siding and window frames, and a leaking roof. With grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® to purchase materials, and volunteer labor, his roof was repaired, the siding and windows replaced, and a handicap ramp constructed.
Utilities and Basic Needs
Many hardworking people in Appalachia do all they can to keep the lights and heat on in their homes, but on occasion emergency expenses cause them to fall behind on their utility bills, which can result if not paid promptly.
Last year, we provided nearly $100,000 in grant funding to our Appalachian partners who operate utility assistance programs which provided one-time relief, usually less than $100, to 2,912 individuals.
In addition, through our basic needs in-kind program, we distributed 2,803 children and adult-size coats, 1,020 blankets to families and homeless individuals, 3,000 dental kits to children, and more than 23,000 diapers to mothers.
In rural White County, Georgia, there is just one doctor for nearly 4,000 residents – four times that national average of 631 per physician – which makes it that much harder for the indigent uninsured to get the health care they need, particularly for those with chronic, and potentially life-threatening, diseases and medical conditions requiring regular treatment including diabetes and hypertension.
Thanks to our supporters, Americans Helping Americans® was able to provide $20,000 in grant funding for medical services, including $15,000 to our partner there, Community Helping Hands Clinic, which last year served approximately 400 individuals last year.
Gene White, Clinic Director, told us that grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® is needed more than ever as “The demand for medical services for the uninsured county residents has been increasing. We are grateful for the continuing support of Americans Helping Americans®. It is making a major impact on the health of low-income residents of our county.”
Flexible spending allows for investments with communities and program partners to help growing nonprofit organizations in all states, as well as to respond to natural disasters, such as severe flooding in Kentucky.