A message from our Executive Director
As COVID-19 continues to impact our daily life, many Americans have lost their jobs, livelihood, and ability to pay for basic essential items for themselves and their families. We feel their struggle. In these unprecedented times, we must stand together as best as we can while adhering to social distancing and love one another, help one another, and be there to lift each other up. It is what America is known for. Americans Helping Americans will not stop either to lift our countrymen and women up. I am so thankful for our many supporters, partners, and donors for their steadfast support of our common mission — to improve the lives of thousands of men, women, and children within central Appalachia. Our continued partnership is the bulwark against poverty and homelessness for these Americans.
A look back at the past few weeks.
March 2020 will be forever remembered as a doozy, to say the least. It felt like the longest month ever recorded in history but at the same time the shortest. Some of the communities we serve were severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and a lot of our programs have been canceled due to the social distancing policies in place. While we were gearing up for the home rehabilitation season, we had to immediately halt as universities and church groups were advised to not form groups and thus, not able to support our partners. Instead of asking our partners to return the grant that would have been used on the home repairs, I instructed our partner leaders to keep the grants and best use the funds to address the problems related to the viral infection. They have since been distributing basic needs either at their base or door to door to make sure the children have activities they can do in small groups while staying active, educated, well-fed, and healthy, as well as helping the elderly with their many basic needs. Home rehabilitation is our largest funded program and it will be sad to us and the many Americans who so desperately need it and waited all year to get the assistance.
I’m so thrilled that the agriculture groups we’ve funded have been able to continue and adapt. The Homegrown program operated by our partner Sprouting Hope was able to hold their first-class teaching community members how to grow to produce in their own backyards online! They will continue to do so for the rest of their classes as best as they can until they can do home visits.
I’m so pleased to also share that, during these days when hospitals are running low on supplies, we were able to assist Sentara Regional Medical Hospital in Williamsburg, VA with 2700 masks that their nurses and doctors will use to stay safe!
A Look Ahead
We are in constant contact with our friends in communities throughout Appalachia and we understand their needs. Groups are requesting a high amount of diapers, soap, toilet paper, hand sanitizers, baby supplies, and various basic need supplies. We are working today to send 10,000 diapers to our partners! And of course, our food box delivery continues by the hundreds in countless communities. The creativity that localities are using to get food to those most in need is simply inspiring.
Normally, in the coming weeks, we would be gearing up to fund and support summer camps. I hope these programs will be unaffected by quarantines and social distancing. Otherwise, hundreds of children will be left with little to do in the summer, and with limited meals. Our partners are assessing the situation daily and should anything change, they will use the funds to meet the needs of their community. I truly look forward to seeing the children in these programs, and hope, like you, that the summer days ahead are filled with joy and laughter from these kids.
I’m honored to work with partners that are tireless in their efforts to help their neighbors, and to work side by side with staff that are committed to supporting Appalachian communities.
Together, we are Americans Helping Americans.