ASP is a community of people coming together to serve and share in the hills of Central Appalachia.
Exposing our youth to poverty and helping them meet people where they are and as they are, those are the gifts of the ASP program.
ASP was founded in Barbourville, Ky. in 1969 by a Methodist Minister. It was born of a dream of Rev. Glenn “Tex” Evans with his Theology Points of Life:
1. Rejoice in the gift of life possible only through the goodness and wisdom and
power of God.
2. Count yourselves to be Christians.
3. See all people as brothers and sisters.
4. Hold that every person wants four things: to be loved, to belong, to own
something, and to create something worthwhile.
5. Go to our brothers and sisters and accept them right where they are, just the
way they are.
6. Count ourselves fortunate in our own opportunities and seek to give good
account of our stewardship.
7. Seek to work in glad cooperation and mutual support with other workers, being
prepared to stay sensitive and helpful according to the needs of the hour.
8. Gladly serve Him who said in the Fourth Chapter of Luke “He has sent me to set at liberty those who are oppressed and to open the doors of the captive.
Rev. Evans became one of the first people to connect the energy of youth with the deep needs of others. During his 13 years as Director of Henderson Settlement in Frakes, Ky. He witnessed the great need for home repair assistance.
He recruited 50 teens and adult volunteers to repair homes in Barbourville, Ky. They worked on-site during the day and worshipped in the evening. By summers end, four families had safe and warm homes for winter, fifty young lives were changed forever, and a 47 year legacy was born.
Tex was more than a leader – he was a motivator. He had to be. These were the challenges he presented to potential participants and supporters:
1. Follow the Gospel’s call to serve those in need.
2. Learn to practice appropriate construction skills before arrival at a work site.
3.. Raise funds to purchase needed building materials, cover all center expenses,
operate and maintain vehicles.
4. Bring tools.
5. Provide transportation.
It was reported that as Tex completed his motivational presentation for initial support from his Methodist Church leaders a member of the Church Council stated “A person would have to be crazy to start a program like this. I think we have found the right person.”
Since the 1969 start more than 370,000 volunteers from across the nation have repaired more than 17,000 homes. In 2001 there were 30 states represented from California to Massachusetts. Pennsylvania was represented by 43 Churches.
Today with the help of 17,000 volunteers each year, the ASP goal remains to make homes warmer, safer, and drier for families in need.
For all who have participated, each trip will have its special moments.They will be moments of:
Joy – seeing the look and hearing the voice of appreciation from Coetta as she
and Duke were soon to move into their new home.,
Satisfaction – although not done, a job well begun.
Relief – knowing you no longer needed to share the space under the house and porch with snakes.
Humor – One homeowner asked if I did this kind of repair at home. I quickly said
No, I come down here to learn how to do it.
Sadness – goodbys during and after the Friday Evening Gathering
ASP is more than a home repair program. It is a people program by building relationships that break down cultural, social, and economic barriers. No one walks away from the ASP experience unchanged.
The results are truly amazing.
I am amazed by many aspects of Trinity’s participation in ASP, starting with our beginning. I don’t remember the details, but 26 years ago there was an event in the Hendricks Room and people were giving reports on various projects. An Ursinus student described the experience of participating in the Appalachia Service Project with the youth group at her church. She talked about fixing roofs and installing dry wall. I was amazed and asked her how they learned to do those things, and she said there were staff and leaders who taught them. I was impressed and said, “Hmmm…. Maybe that’s something our youth could do.” I didn’t think about it again until several months later when Pastor Martha arranged a meeting with Melody Herr, pastor of a church in Delaware, whose youth had been participating in ASP. Melody and I knew each other from our college days, when we were both on the staff of Camp Fernbrook. We talked for a while about the process of taking a team to ASP, and decided that I would take a group of Trinity youth as part of her church’s team for our first year. The next thing I knew, Fran Rapp was on board (also from the Camp Fernbrook staff), and the following summer we took 5 Trinity youth to be part of Melody’s team. We all had a good experience.
The next year, Fran and I went again, and took 3 of the original group of 5 plus 2 new youth. The following year we took some repeaters plus some new youth and new adults. This started the amazing trend that more than 2/3 of the Trinity people who have participated in ASP have gone more than once – some as many as 8 – 12 times! Something else that amazed me was the interaction and fellowship that took place between the Trinity youth and adult participants. But the most amazing thing of all is that I never imagined Trinity would send a team of 7 to 21 people to ASP every year for the next 25 years! And it’s still going strong.