Although the COVID-19 pandemic may alter or prohibit this summer’s mission trip, Jesse Lee Appalachia Service Project is asking high-school teens and adults to register now as volunteers for ASP 2021.
Jesse Lee ASP hopes to take volunteers down to Appalachia June 26-July 4 for a week of meaningful home repair. While there currently is uncertainty because of COVID over what will happen this summer, the organization needs to begin registering and training volunteers now.
“If we are able to make the trip happen this summer, it’s important to begin to prepare our crews for where we’ll be going, what to expect there, what work we’ll be doing there, and how to safely do it,” said Steve Coppock of the Jesse Lee ASP council.
At least for now, there’s no cost to express interest in volunteering. Register with no obligation at www.jesseleeasp.org.
Online monthly trainings will begin soon to plan for the summer trip and to review the ASP guiding principles of safety, stewardship and sensitivity.
If a decision is made this spring that the COVID risk is too great for traveling to Appalachia, Coppock said, Jesse Lee ASP may pivot to doing work locally.
ASP is a national Christian volunteer organization founded by Rev. Glenn “Tex” Evans, a Methodist minister, in 1969. Since then, some 400,000 volunteers from across the nation have participated in weeklong mission trips to make nearly 18,000 homes in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina “warmer, safer and drier.”
Last year – in what would have been Jesse Lee ASP’s 37th year – the entire ASP summer program in Appalachia was canceled because of COVID. Some 270 volunteers had signed up through Jesse Lee ASP, again making it the second-largest local ASP group in America.
This summer, the national ASP organization has added a number of COVID safety protocols, including limiting the number of volunteers who can stay at its “centers”; requiring that masks be worn unless volunteers are eating, sleeping or showering; and prioritizing exterior home repairs, like roof and siding replacements.
Jesse Lee ASP is open to anyone who will have completed their freshman year of high school. Adults are encouraged to volunteer – both those who have teens participating and those who don’t. You don’t have to be a member of Jesse Lee or any church, you don’t have to live in Ridgefield, and you don’t need to be an expert with a hammer to volunteer. Basic construction skills and safety rules are taught in training sessions prior to going on ASP. There’s also a fund-raising component. And it helps if you like ice cream.
Home base for Jesse Lee ASP is Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, 207 Main St. Learn more and register for this year’s work at www.jesseleeasp.org.