Volunteers from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Lend a Hand in West Virginia

The 2019 team from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bedford at the Guayan Valley Center.

Warmer, safer, drier”
— The charge given to volunteers with the Appalachia Service Project.

This summer’s team worked with two families, one a couple with two young children and another an elderly man who lives alone.  Volunteer Helen Pulizzi said she helped replace a beam in the little girl’s bedroom and re-sided part of the house.

The goal of ASP is to make needed repairs to homes, at no cost to the owners, and also to form friendships with the people the volunteers meet, and to learn about the local culture.  The organization sets up the work, obtains necessary permits, houses volunteers, and oversees the project.

Emily Mitchell, a St. Paul’s member, wrote about the goal of the project. “At St. Paul’s we view our high school mission trips not only as outreach but also—and perhaps more importantly—as formational experiences for our young people, laying the groundwork for service to become an integral and regular part of their personal lives. As ASP’s philosophy of service states, ’ASP encourages people to act responsibly in the face of human need and injustice.’”

ASP serves rural areas in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina; it is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation formed in 1969.  Each center is run by a staff of four current or recently-graduated college students, and volunteers range in age from middle schoolers to senior citizens, with varying levels of construction experience.

Leo, Emma and Helen Pulizzi smile for a photo during lunch. Emma was a staff member in Scott Co., TN and came to visit the St. Paul’s group for a night!

Helen Pulizzi was one of the Bedford youth who went this year. When asked to comment on the experience, she said, “I would say definitely go.  It is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. The people are very hospitable and appreciative. It was a peaceful time.”

Service was a Pulizzi family affair this summer: Helen’s brother Leo was also at Guyan Valley, and their sister Emma worked with ASP in Scott County, Tennessee.

Helen is a Bedford High School graduate and is now studying Elementary Education at Framingham State College.  She will share her experience in a sermon at Saint Paul’s during the 10 am service on Sunday, September 26.

Editor’s Note: First Church of Christ Congregational and Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church each took teams from their congregations to West Virginia this summer on missions that included restoring homes badly in need of repair.  The First Church of Christ went to Glenwood, an unincorporated town outside Bluefield near the Ohio border.  Saint Paul’s went to Guyan Valley also in the western part of the state.

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