Father Ralph Beiting is a priest of the diocese of Lexington. He has been working as the pastor of a four-county parish since 1950. Father Beiting founded the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) shortly after he became a pastor. The project provides many services, including community development, education, and crisis intervention programs to the people of the Appalachian Region.
Under Father Beiting's direction, and with the help of an estimated 30,000 volunteers, CAP has established programs offering long-term solutions such as child development centers, counseling, tutoring toward high school equivalency certification, adult literacy instruction, youth centers, a health advocacy program, and opportunities for people with disabilities.
CAP also addresses short-term needs. Some of these programs include visitation of elderly people, emergency financial assistance, abuse shelters, home repair, Christmas baskets, and assistance for families with disabled members. Every year CAP has an Appalachian Work Fest. This is a spring break alternative, which attracts over 400 college students from throughout the country for home repair projects.
CAP's volunteers are a mixed group. The volunteer corps includes nearly 100 men and women from all over the United States, whose ages range from young adults to past retirement age. Working mainly in outreach and education programs, they commit themselves to working for CAP for a year or more. In addition to long-term volunteers, hundreds more come to work for a shorter period of time.
CAP has been successful in helping with immediate and long-term needs. The proof of their success can be seen in the numbers. Last year alone, CAP awarded their 1,000th GED diploma, 4,800 parents and children participated in the child development programs, more than 11,500 people were assisted by CAP's crisis intervention programs, and 600,000 people benefited from CAP's community development programs. CAP currently has 70 programs meeting people's needs throughout the 13 Appalachian states and provides direct services to 18 Appalachian counties in Kentucky and West Virginia.