Growing up the “son of a preacher man” I was always a part of church and always surrounded by people that helped me grow into the man that I am today. My love for serving others started when I was in third grade with a community recycling program and has grown into a passion and longing for loving others. That passion was truly brought to life when I first experienced the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) and the families that were affected by social injustices and geographical isolation just hours from my hometown. Yet, the men and women I volunteered within rural Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia taught me about a real faith that I had never truly experienced before. Their compassion and love for family and friends was almost more than I could comprehend. I had my first ASP experience over thirteen years ago, and after serving as an ASP volunteer throughout high school and a summer staffer in college, I now have the opportunity to provide that same transformational volunteer experience to others who have a passion for serving others – this time in the Bahamas.
In 2004, I graduated from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN with a double major in Business Management and Camp Leadership. Those two pieces of paper plus my employment with ASP over the past five summers, combined with my time at Bahamas Methodist Habitat as an intern prepared me to do as ASP’s founder instructed. When Tex Evans founded ASP in 1969, his vision was not that volunteers would return to Appalachia year after year, but that they would take the experience home with them and serve people in need in their own communities. I took the experience home with me, but then God pushed me a step further and brought me to the Bahamas.
God has blessed me continually throughout my life with so many different opportunities to meet people from all types of backgrounds, and has now given me the chance to live, eat, worship, build, play, and serve with another group of his beautiful children. My daily life of being the Executive Director of Bahamas Methodist Habitat brings me closer to God by allowing me to tackle the challenging conditions that face many Bahamian families, be a first responder when hurricanes hit and work with a support team that is ready, willing and able to change people’s lives. The change not only comes in physical ways by repairing their homes but more importantly spiritually, mentally and socially.
At first mention, many people write off the Bahamas for just another tourist trap, but behind the facade of beautiful beaches and fancy resorts, the needs here are vast and very real. Lack of employment and resources and a high cost of living, not to mention the ever-present threat of hurricanes, all contribute to persons in the Bahamas still living without running water, electricity in their homes or three healthy meals on their table each day. With the help of over 500 volunteers from the Bahamas, United States, Canada and England; Bahamas Methodist Habitat is able to serve over 100 families a year. Our program is open to person’s of all ages and skill levels on a year-round basis. The need is great…and so is the sky blue water!
To learn more about the Appalachia Service Projects’ visit http://www.asphome.org or keyword search: “home repair” or “housing service.”