If I may paraphrase Jeff Bunke, the Rector of St. Timothy’s Church, Perryville, OH, this was the questions asked as I talked about the Outreach Center. This groupfrom the Diocese of Ohio, unlike most of our visiting groups, did not come to repair homes or to lead day camps for local children. They did not come to Barnes Mountain to help with the annual Christmas party or even our Easter egg hunt (hence the odd ducks). Instead, they came down to get to know the people better and to help us develop ongoing projects. They came to build on the relationship begun in 2011 when the Rev. Greg Sammons brought a Mission Team from the Toledo area to repair homes and lead a day camp. Since that time, Toledo area Episcopal Churches have been with us each summer. What was different this year, was that Father Bunke, along with participants from area churches wrote a Global and Domestic grant request. The aim of the request was three-fold. Firstly, to collect living histories of local residents that could be used to preserve the stories of life on and around Barnes Mountain. Using photographs, video and oral recordings, guided by suggestions from Chris Greene, the director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College, and David Cooke, the directory of Grow Appalachia, the hope is to develop a video along with booklets of photographs and text and to present these to churches as well as to make them available to interested groups. The second aim was to assist the community in quilt making by providing fabric and other supplies and to begin to gather on a regular basis to build community as we come together to make quilts. The final initial aim was to repair and get into operation two weaving looms we had been given several years ago by St. Timothy’s Church in Philadelphia, PA.
We are happy to say that all three aims are in the process of being completed. The living History portion will take some time to review, edit, and compile into presentations although snippets will be appearing on our Facebook page in the very near future. The quilting portion is underway. The weaving has already produced two pieces and we have another underway.Lynn, our weaving teacher and Sarah, the quilter are planning to return this fall for more advanced help. As with such projects, there are always other benefits. Most of the group dropped by Juanita’s and Edith’s to see their quilts and talk about family . Several residents brought along crafts to show and teach our northern friends how they were made. It became a great three days of sharing ideas and talents. We look forward to ongoing relationships as addresses and emails were passed along the way.
As we move into 2016 we want to thank all those who have visited and supported us this past year. St. Timothy’s hosted seven week-long Mission Trips from as far south as Alabama, north to Ohio, and as far east as Connecticut and a part week in conjunction with the Cathedral Domain, our Diocesan Camp & Conference Center.. Three of the groups were first time visitors. As we look forward to 2016, we already have ten weeks reserved with another, which will decide in the next few weeks. Unfortunately we have also had to turn away four others because the weeks they were able to come are already filled. I often find it hard to look back and remember exactly what all has been accomplished by our visitors as one year seems to run into another. One unfortunate oddity this year was that we had to complete two caskets within three days for two local residents who died. Among some of the work was adding a porch, gutting a kitchen, including the floor and redoing it. Replacing a couple of doors, painting, drywall, insulation and patching roofs all of which seem to be never ending projects.
Throughout the rest of the year we held a number of day camps with crafts, games and fun for the children. The annual Easter party was a great success with egg hunting and coloring of eggs. Our May day camp was a celebration of our own version of the Kentucky Derby. The children made their own silks (shirts) and horses for the race in the afternoon. Maybe next year we should let the parents and grandparents try their hands racing. Our after Thanksgiving community meal was well attended and we had a great time. The children, parents and grandparents again made Christmas ornaments which we send to communities who have had natural disasters such as flooding and tornadoes where so many have lost everything. They are not that special, although many are adorable, but it means so much to those who have lost so much to know that even after the initial storms, others are thinking about them. The Saturday before Christmas we again held our Christmas Party. While donations were down some this year, we were still able to provide snacks, cake and two gifts to over forty children. Later that afternoon, we distributed thirty-three Christmas food baskets feeding over one hundred family members.
Early in November we were contacted by the Estill County Health Department to see if we could help a seventy-two year old widow. A winterization group was going to insulate her house, but on arriving and looking at the condition they left. She had managed to purchase a twelve by twenty foot storage shed to turn that into a new home. They had it on site and the floor insulated, but then had no idea how to proceed. So far we have been able to wire the house, insulate the walls, drywall and we currently have the primer coat on. The hope is to have the remainder of the work (plumbing, installing cabinets and finish painting) done before the end of February. Unfortunately most weeks we can only spend one or two days there. The first of February we will begin receiving applications for work projects this next year.
St. Timothy’s will be visited this spring by members of Toledo Episcopal Churches with the intent of producing a living history video of St. Timothy’s and the surrounding community. Led by the Rev. Jeff Bunke, the team will record interviews with local residents as we continue to build an ongoing relationship with the Dioceses of Ohio and Lexington through St. Timothy’s. The visit is made possible as a result of a Global and Domestic Grant from the Diocese of Ohio. In addition to the living history project, the grant will also provide supplies for our quilting and weaving projects. The intent of these projects have three primary aims. The first is to provide local residents with a means to increase their household income by producing quilts and weavings that can be sold as crafts to visiting mission trips, their churches and elsewhere. A second aim is to help to carry on these traditions to subsequent generations. The final aim is to build community interaction. The visit is planned for the week of April 3-9, 2016. We will again also be joined by a youth Mission Trip from the Toledo area June 5-11, 2016.
April 3-9, Toledo, OH Episcopal Churches Living History Project
June 12-18, Toledo, OH Youth Mission Trip
July 3-9, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Maple Glen , PA Youth Mission Trip
July 10-16, Pleasant Run Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, OH Mission Trip
July 17-23, St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Annapolis, MD, Youth Mission Trip
July 24-30, St. Paul’s Episcopal, Clinton, NC, and Holy Trinity, Fayetteville, NC. Youth Mission Trip
July 31- August 6, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Glenwood, MD Youth Mission Trip
August 7-13, Hudson Valley Episcopal Churches, Youth Mission Trip
It seems as if there is always much more to do than we can get to each year. We still have to start work on the bathroom at Ella’s, As yet; there is no toilet, sink, or tub and shower, not to mention the plumbing that will connect them all together. We will have to construct and end wall for the shower as well as lay a finish floor, final coat of paint and add a door. It will be an ideal job for one of our smaller groups this coming year. At Kim’s,
we need to close in the gable ends, insulate, dry-wall, add an exterior door, not to mention cut the wall through into the trailer as well as all the painting. Two projects we had hoped to finish this year, but were not even able to start included replacing the floor in at least one room of a mobile home and to add a porch to a house to prevent the flooding which occurs every time there is a heavy rain. But there are many more tasks ahead of us. We have had requests for more porches, repairing roofs as well as insulating and floors and walls and we will have a new set of request this coming year. One I expect will include significant repairs to floors and bathrooms as well as the houses porch and roof. Hopefully some of our groups will lead a day camp for a day or two. Our attendance this past year at them was not the best, but we were late in getting word out. In January, we will begin running notices in the local papers that applications are available and the hope is to have our project list firmed up by April.
In the next few weeks we plan to start sending information to colleges and Universities with the hope that we can gather some groups in the spring and fall. Those of you who have been with us certainly know working on Barnes Mountain would be a whole lot more fun that a Florida or Mexican beach in the spring. If you have any leads, please be sure to let us know. Our summers fill in pretty well, but that still leaves nine months of the year we can accommodate groups. In the past, we have been lucky to have teams of retirees who have been able to join us n the off seasons, which with the cooler weather are ideal working times.
Our bowl is filling up. To date, we have $3,100.00 of the estimated $5,000.00 it will cost to install a home septic system so a household can have legal electricity turned on in their home. Why the unlikely pairing of water and electricity? Prior to “city water” coming to the mountain, most homes used cisterns, concrete tanks that collected water from rainfall off the roof to provide much of their water, or a spring and in a few cases a well. In almost all instances, water was a precious commodity and rather than use it for indoor plumbing many people used outhouses. The used water had to go somewhere and the natural thing to do was to run a pipe over the hill, referred to as “straight piping”. If this was just wash water, it was not a significant problem for most. However, water from toilets posed a different problem, especially as running water in homes was more common and the use of outhouses declined. So why are electricity and septic systems tied together? Prior to public water, our water at St. Timothy’s came from a spring on our bottom ground and then was pumped uphill around one-hundred feet. It was good water, but at that time we did not have two homes up the holler from our spring that did not have septic systems. It is common for there to be many homes along the bottom land of the holler. The only way the state could help to force people to install the systems was to require a septic permit prior to setting up temporary service and certification of a completed system before final connection to the home. The cost of a small home system on good draining ground will cost around $3,500.00. Note I said good draining ground. As many of our mission trip participants have learned the hard way, digging even a small hole usually results in hitting rock. The area needed for the septic leach field in almost every case would not only include significant digging, something that cannot be done by hand, but also the removal of trees and brush. Our new log building required us to run nearly two hundred feet of pipe from the septic tanks to the leach field in an old tobacco field lower on our property.
Unfortunately there are no grants available in Estill County, except for a USDA grant restricted to people over 62 who are capable of meeting the income requirements and completing the nearly twenty page application. Last year our friends from Pleasant Run Presbyterian Church asked why we could not create a fund to help provide septic systems. They then backed it up with a donation to start the fund. Others, including a number of congregations from our own diocese have also added to the fund. I know I receive solicitations several times a year about providing safe drinking water around the world, something which I support, but unclean water is not just a third-world problem. Just as none of us would want to have to walk out to the little shed out back on a snowy winter night, neither would we want to live downhill from untreated waste. I know that $5,000.00 sounds like a great deal just to have electricity, but if everyone who visited St. Timothy’s over the last two years had two less Starbuck coffees this fall we could easily meet our goal of a septic system for Christmas.
The updated forms for 2016 can be found on the “Resources” page including a checklist for visiting groups and the Home Repair Application.
We are happy to announce that next summer is filling up quickly. Booked already are:
Diocese of Maryland- June 26 to July 2
Pleasant Run Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, OH- July 10-16
St. Martha’s Episcopal Church, Annapolis, MD, July 17- 23
St. Paul’s, Clinton NC and Holy Trinity, Fayetteville, NC, July 24-30
Hudson Valley Episcopal Churches, July 7-13.