Appalachia is one of the poorest places in the United States and a group of local people are using a unique fund-raising method to pay for a mission trip to Eastern Kentucky to help out the neediest in that area.
Pastor David Adams from the Wells, Fair Haven and Poultney United Methodist churches said his group is organizing a lobster bake to benefit the Red Bird Mission Fund a United Methodist Church and Green Mountain College Spring Break event.
Named for a river in that area, the long time missionary group use the money raised to send the high school and college-aged volunteers south, paying for their transportation, room and board and materials for the work the volunteer group will perform.
Adams said the group will repair homes of the local residents who can’t afford to do it themselves in a desperately poor area.
The lobster bake will be held August 5; however ticket must be purchased by August 2.
The menu, the meal is catered by East Creek Catering, includes a pound-and-a-quarter lobster or a steak, potato salad, cole slaw, corn on the cob, cake for dessert with lemonade, iced tea or coffee for $40 per person.
The meal will be held at the Modern Woodmen Hall in Wells, starting at 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., rain or shine August 5.
Adams said the youths who went last year “really had their eyes opened” by the poverty and the desperate conditions of the people living there, but are raring to go back and help some more.
The mountainous area is deep in coal country and incredibly poor.
“I’d never been, so I didn’t know what it was like, basically if you don’t work for the coal companies there, you don’t work. There are a few service industry jobs but nothing else and the people area very poor,” Adams said.
Students from Green Mountain College and Poultney High School went to the work camp, which has been operating in the area for 90 years last years. They repaired roofs, built an access ramp at a residence, replaced doors and windows, a rotted-out bathroom and many other repairs related to basic needs.
The camp also has a small school attached teaching about 150 kids, a medical clinic and a thrift store with affordable good for the local people, Adams said.
The camp also takes locally made crafts of all types out of the area and finds a market for them.
In addition the camp teaches local people about growing their own food.
Although many assume those living in a rural area would farm to help feed themselves as those in the Northeast or New England might, Adams said the mountainous nature of the area, combined the most of the land being owned privately by coal companies means the locals needed to be shown how to use what land they have. “A lot of what they do is education,” he said.
Knowing what they were in for this year, Adams said the groups decided to begin fundraising in advance in hopes of doing more on the next trip.
For tickets go to Williams Hardware on Main Street in Poultney (802-287-5791) or call Hillary Bushee at 802-287-0389 or David Adams at 802-287-4406; all numbers are in the 802 area code.
The good news for lobster fans is if this endeavor is a success it will happen again because the missionaries too hope to return again and again.
“Our plan is to do this again,” Adams said.