My Summer Experience - Anna Voinovich
Worked for Appalachia Service Project
My Summer Experience
Anna Voinovich, Sophomore
Worked for Appalachia Service Project in Harlan County, KY
Service has always been a focus in my life, so spending a summer on staff with Appalachia Service Project just made sense to me.
Appalachia Service Project (ASP) is a Christian organization that is working to eradicate substandard housing in Central Appalachia. I had spent a week each summer for four summers volunteering with ASP with my youth group. ASP played an important role in my life, and I couldn't imagine a summer without it, so I decided to apply to be on staff this year.
As a staffer for ASP, I was expected to supervise and plan construction projects, provide spiritual leadership for our volunteers, and fulfill my duties as Operations Coordinator, which included managing our cooks, making sure chores were completed, ordering food for our volunteers, and managing the foods budget. My favorite part of the job was my opportunity to get to know the families for whom we worked for.
One homeowner in particular had a great impact on my life. He lives with his disabled brother and two cats on the very top of a winding hill. This man didn't have a lot, could not read, and lived in an isolated home in need of repair, but he never stopped smiling.
It's so easy to think that happiness can be bought in that fancy new computer, purse, videogame, or whatever it is that you enjoy, but being around this homeowner was a great reminder that objects and money will not bring you happiness. True happiness comes from an appreciation of all that is around you and a love for the people in your life. This homeowner couldn't read the letters of gratitude that our volunteers wrote him for welcoming them into his home, but he still appreciated and remembered each one of them.
Once when I came to visit after a heavy rainstorm he told me, "The roof y'all put up worked great! Tell Stacy and Bryan (two volunteers) thank you and that it doesn't leak at all!" This touched my heart. Stacy and Bryan were two of our group leaders from weeks ago, yet he still remembered them and the work they had put into his home.
If anything has stuck with me from this summer, it is to live simply and to appreciate the people in your life. Happiness doesn't come from objects, but from the experiences that we share with other human beings.
When people think of poverty, they generally only think of fiscal poverty. Working in Appalachia this summer taught me that there are many types of poverty. While many of the families that I worked for had very little money, they were rich in happiness and love for each other.
While I don't know what I will be doing for the rest of my life, I hope to live a life rich in happiness and good people as I have learned from my friends in Harlan County.