Keeping Families Safe, Warm, & Dry

SWAP (Sharing With Appalachian People) is a home repair program of Mennonite Central Committee Great Lakes in partnership with the Hindman Settlement School and the Hindman United Methodist Church. SWAP is a “serve and learn” program that provides safe, warm, and dry housing for families living in substandard housing in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

Group from Neffsville Mennonite Church, Lancaster PA building a handicap ramp. (photo by Deb Smith)

The program draws volunteers of all ages from many parts of the country. Work groups travel to Knott County and are housed in the Hindman United Methodist Church. This year, the Hindman SWAP program hosted 15 groups of volunteers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Kentucky. 223 volunteers worked to improve 15 Knott county homes during a 12-week period. (June –August).

Youth from Valley View Mennonite Church, Corry PA take up vinyl flooring in order to repair rotting sub floor. (photo by John Karl)

Some of the homes required multiple weeks of work because the need was so great. We received over 50 applications which come to us through LKLP Community Action Council, Kentucky Homeplace, individuals, and other referrals. SWAP made homes safe, warm, and dry completing the following projects: built wheelchair ramps, repaired porches, repaired gutters, coated roofs, put up and finished sheet rock, tore off leaking roofs and installed new ones (shingle and metal), installed new interior lights, painted house exterior, installed new trailer underpinning, built new porch, power washed a trailer, installed safety railings on steps, put insulation up under trailers, took out rotted floors, installed new subfloors and vinyl rug.

Two separate jobs, each for widows were especially challenging. They involved tearing out bathrooms, installing new plumbing and insulation. Then new floors and vanities were installed. One week 3 electricians came to Hindman and installed six electrical panels in homes that would be potential fire hazards. Through the generous financial contributions of one of the volunteers, six homes were saved.

SWAP is a lot more than fixing homes. Relationships are born and matter. The following is a letter we received from one of our homeowners that sheds just a little light on the impact SWAP volunteers have.

7/8/18

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this in connection with the work which was done in my home.

There are no words that can express my gratitude toward everyone individually and collectively.  I didn’t know my home was in as bad of a shape it was.  They all worked hard on the projects here.  They did a superb job. My home is in better shape now than it has been in over 20 yrs. (since my husband died).

It was really nice to have them here.  My home came alive for the first time in years.  It was so nice to hear young people chattering and the laughter.  I enjoyed getting to talk to and getting to know them.  Even my two little Cha-wa-wa’s loved them. They brought a little sunshine into an otherwise rather dull life.  Each group was special in their way.  I know the Lord will richly bless each and every one of them.

It is a blessing to have a group like yours to help people such as me.  It takes very special people to do what you (do).

Again, you all have my gratitude for all everyone did for me.

                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                    E.

Our two community partners, the Hindman Settlement School and the Hindman United Methodist Church, make all this possible. Without the support of these invaluable partners, the work of SWAP would not happen in Knott County.