The Appalachian Ministries of the Smokies (AMOS), our longtime partner formerly known as Appalachian Outreach, in Jefferson City, Tennessee, has been busy this spring making dreams come true for elderly and disabled homeowners in their community by repairing leaking roofs, building handicap ramps, and more.
As AMOS Executive Director Jean-Ann Washam explained in their request to Americans Helping Americans® for grant funding to purchase materials such as shingles and lumber, “AMOS is the only ministry that provides these services on an on-going basis and at no cost to the family” in the four-county region it serves.
Applicants for the program go through a thorough vetting process to be eligible for home rehab services including having their name on the deed (or title if it is a mobile home), proof of income and expenditures, and be current on their property taxes and mortgage.
Once the application has been received and the documents are processed, a volunteer will go to the home to complete an assessment and if the project is approved a short-term mission team, usually a church-organized group of volunteers, is recruited to complete the work. The vast majority of the volunteer teams return year after year.
“They are invested in the community and make every effort to develop a relationship with the family,” Jean-Ann told us. “Once the project is assigned, the team can do a pre-site visit and initiate communication with the homeowner.
“The relationship typically does not end when they complete the project,” she added. “Local churches provide breakfast and dinner to the volunteers. This allows the ministry to stretch the finances and do more work on the home.”
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we are able to provide the funding for the materials to AMOS, which organizes and oversees the teams and their projects, while the volunteers who give so selflessly of their time and labor to someone who is complete stranger to them at the start of the project but by completion has become a new, and very grateful, friend.
Jean-Ann notes that AMOS has been serving families in East Tennessee for nearly 40 years.
While the past two years have been understandably difficult to recruit teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year their goal to serve 10 households at an average cost for materials of $1,500 each.
Among those projects completed already this spring was for a 61-year-old woman named Billie who lives alone in a single-wide mobile home who had a leaking roof, an unstable front porch and a degraded rear deck and ramp.
But thanks to the team of volunteers the front porch was replaced, and the rear deck and ramp were removed and replaced them with a new deck and stairs. (Due to the condition of the leaking roof over the left rear portion of the mobile home, the repair had to be contracted out.)
Another person who has been helped through AMOS’ home rehab program this spring is 70-year-old Carolyn who lives alone in a single-wide mobile home which experienced a small fire in the master bedroom closet.
“Fortunately, the fire did not make it our of the master closet prior to firefighters extinguishing it,” said Jean-Ann. “It caused minimal damage. The volunteer team made repairs to the closet and purchased closet shelves for her.”
In addition, the mobile home’s 8-foot x 8-foot front deck was built in a non-code compliant manner and was unsafe, so the team tore it down and replaced it with a new code-compliant deck.
And to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, Jean-Ann wants to let them know how much of a difference they are helping to make in the lives of people like Billie and Carolyn and many others in desperate need of home repairs in the community they serve, and the real threat they face if the repairs were not made, saying:
“If AMOS did not provide home repairs to struggling families in East Tennessee at no cost, some of these families would be forced to move in with other family members, go to a nursing home or become homeless.”