Applications for Appalachia Service Project help now available

Lynn Ramsey, left, Newport/Cocke County Chamber of Commerce Director of Operations, confers with Laura Kelly, Appalachia Service Project program manager, about plans for the group’s 2018 work in Cocke County. Applications for the program are now being accepted.

NEWPORT—Plans are firmly in place for the 2018 Appalachia Service Project, a Christian ministry that will spend several weeks in Cocke County working on both small and large scale projects, such as roofs, ramps, porches, flooring, foundation repair, weatherization, and more.

Laura Kelly, ASP program manager, has already been in Cocke County working with Chamber of Commerce Director of Operations Lynn Ramsey and Centerview Elementary School Principal Pam Messer to coordinate this year’s program.

Four permanent staff members will arrive here June 1. Later 84 volunteers a week will come to Cocke County from eight to ten different states, each group spending a week here. Local headquarters again will be Centerview Elementary School.

“This marks the 50th summer ASP has helped citizens in the area, and we plan to launch a new program to include local volunteers,” Kelly said.

“This is one of the best programs around,” enthused Ramsey. “And I can’t say enough good things about Pam Messer and the staff at Centerview. We nearly lost the program a few years ago because there was no place for them to stay. Pam’s just a stellar woman.”

Applications for help from the program are now being accepted. They are available at the Chamber of Commerce office and at Centerview Elementary School and may be turned in at either place.

Construction will begin on Monday, June 11, and continue for six weeks.

The four summer staffers are “college kids,” according to Ramsey, who is impressed by their work record. “They develop budgets, work on their community skills, facilitate everything through Pam and the Centerview cooks and janitors, and make plans for the evening.” she said.

“They will also create a Facebook page to show local progress, where they are and what they’re doing,” Ramsey added.

During the summer of 2017, a total of 53 Cocke County citizens were served by ASP, representing 20 families. A total of 78 projects were completed.

“This breaks down to one bedroom addition, 13 floors repaired, eight walls repaired, two ceilings repaired, four improvements to insulation/guttering, five roofs repaired/installed, repairs/installation of siding, doors/windows, and underpinning; two drainage ditches; 19 porches/steps/ramps; and repair of basic utilities on one home,” Kelly said.

In Cocke County alone, 465 volunteers accrued 16,275 volunteer hours over the summer. Their volunteer labor translated to $392,878.50 in labor.

“And while the volunteers are here,” Ramsey pointed out, “money is spent in Cocke County. Last year an estimated $80,000 was spent purchasing materials for projects, plus the volunteers spend money for food and by shopping. It’s so good for Cocke County.”

The volunteers will be from “eight to ten states,” Kelly said. “Connecticut is the smallest state to send volunteers, but they tend to bring the most volunteers to the Appalachian area.”

The local Appalachia Service Project Local Volunteer Program is open to all people ages 14 and up and who are welcome to volunteer in their own communities.

To register for this program as a volunteer, call 423-854-8800 and email

For an application for repairs, call the Chamber of Commerce at 423-623-7201.

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