Last week I was lucky enough to participate in my 7th Appalachia trip with my church. Several groups consisting of youth and adults travel for one week during the summer to Preston County, West Virginia to help renovate dilapidated homes for those living with the unfortunate situation of rural poverty.
This trip originated in 1986 as a flood relief effort, when Preston County was wiped out due to massive flooding. The trip has continued to grow every year since.
Although the water damage effects of the flood have since vanished, Preston County is still a very poor area and most living there cannot afford to mend their homes on their own. My week in Appalachia is what I look forward to most during the year. Going on Appalachia trips in high school and going to college in WV I have grown to love this state. I love it's beauty and I love the people who live there.
We stay in a little town, Rowlesburg. This little town is in a valley surrounded on every side by a mountain. I really think it is the only town like this. To get to Rowlesburg you have to drive along a 20 or so mile road along the Cheat River. This is my favorite road in the entire world. It is curvy, it is beautiful. Rowlesburg in the morning is, like John Denver put it, almost heaven....the clouds sitting on top of the mountain tops is unbelievable.
Every year I have gone on this trip I have learned something new about myself, and others. There are a million reasons why I continue to go back to Rowlesburg every year and learning how to hammer and build roofs is only one of them. It is about the people you meet, the things that happen there that can ONLY happen in WV (like when you're driving on a dirt road on a cliff and have to stop for a cow. How does a cow get on a road surrounded by cliffs??? Or when you meet someone who has a deer as a pet.)
I think everyone should try and volunteer in some way in a community that they love. It really does make you feel good and helping others is always a good feeling!