A visionary minister named Glenn “Tex” Evans founded the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) in 1969. Working in one of the most impoverished regions of the entire country, Central Appalachia, Evans recognized an overwhelming need for making homes in this particular region warmer, safer and drier. From his work with the United Methodist Church, Evans also was aware that youth groups across the country were hungry for service opportunities. Evans believed a “marriage” between the two needs seemed only natural. That marriage is ASP.
ASP’s theology of service encourages people to responsible service against poverty and injustice. In a time when our nation looks for a means to serve those in need, ASP volunteers invest their resources and physical labor into improving lives through home repairs. ASP accepts people right where they are; they do not try to change them, but they are present to meet a need. In America today, there is an imbalance between the rich and the poor. These are two very separate cultures, and throughout the year ASP takes the time and the opportunity to bridge the difference in those cultures and lend a helping hand.
For the past 33 years, ASP has worked throughout Central Appalachia in an effort to eradicate substandard housing by partnering volunteers with families who are in desperate need of repairs to their homes. Because of the large needs, this is a massive volunteer effort. During the year 2002 alone, they will have over 15,000 volunteers from over 30 states repairing 500 homes in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.
ASP transforms the lives of those who receive much needed home repair services. However, the lives of the volunteers are also dramatically transformed. Since its inception over 150,000 volunteers have impacted over 10,000 lives in the process of repairing homes. In addition, a disproportionately large number of ASP volunteers decide to choose service-related careers because of their experiences. Many of the volunteers also go back to their homes to continue service to enrich their own communities.
ASP is a Christian ministry, but neither the volunteers nor the service recipients must suscribe to a particular belief or religion. ASP believes they always share their faith through the good quality of their work and the careful stewardship of their resources.