Saturday, March 15, 2008
Workfest 2008: The Beginning
Down to the River to Pray
In 2004 I participated in disaster relief in Eastern Kentucky. I was headquartered in Prestonsburg KY. I traveled and worked in Salyersville, Paintsville, Inez, Beauty, and Lovely KY. During my day off I also visited Pikesville and the home of Loretta Lyn, Butcher Hollow. I went to the Coal Miner’s Museum and to the Mountain Home Place which is a pioneer settlement. One night all of us volunteers had dinner in a wonderful lodge in Jenny Wiley’s State Resort Park.
I also drove down Highway 23, the Country Music Highway. Turn the radio on and listen, to Country, Country-Rock, Bluegrass and Gospel. The Country Music Highway was the home of Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, the Judds, and Dwight Yoakam. Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs.
I spent time in the towns, the farms and the hollows (hollers). I drove past shacks with fighting cocks and hound dogs, past fenced estates and coal mines. Between the music, the natural beauty, the people, the food and the constant sound of roosters I fell in love with Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia.
I started searching out opportunities to return to Kentucky and discovered Christian Appalachian Project, CAP. CAP was founded by Father Ralph Beiting. He was called to Eastern Kentucky to build Catholic churches. When he arrived there were four Catholics in the area! He felt drawn to helping the poor. By 1957 he had founded the Cliffview Lodge, an interdenominational volunteer organization to help the poor. In 1964 it became CAP. CAP has housing services for the poor, hospice, addictions services, youth camps, elderly services and educational services. CAP serves 29 of the 100 poorest counties in America.
We finally got registered to participate in Workfest 2008. Workfest is a three week period in spring, an alternative spring break for colleges. During that time colleges from all over the U.S. send students to one of two camps in Eastern Kentucky. They spend the next six days tearing down and rebuilding homes in Appalachia. We were finally doing our service mission, I was finally going back to Appalachia and I was the team leader. Needless to say, I was very excited.
So over a week, seven students, Dr. Pam Lord and I stayed at Camp Caleb outside of Flatgap KY. We divided into different teams and worked with students from five other colleges. We started the day with a great breakfast, had devotions and set off for our job sites. We worked with the families we served. We started off our work at the site by holding hands and praying in a circle. We prayed again at lunch. In the evening we had fantastic suppers, devotions and then fun. It was a highly spiritual, physically demanding and socially intensive week. We all grew from the experience. Over the following days I will be reflecting on our Workfest journey.
Peace and all good,