SWAP: An Opportunity to Serve and Learn in Appalachia

January 09, 2007

Sharing With Appalachian People (SWAP) is a home repair program that serves low-income families in several counties of southeastern Kentucky and West Virginia. SWAP provides week-long service and learning opportunities for youth, college, families and church groups.


SWAP provides safe, warm, and dry housing for people who don't have the resources to complete their own repairs.  To do this, SWAP invites over 1,000 volunteers every year to Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia to serve at one of our five work sites.  Evening devotionals and information from local speakers focus on teaching the visiting volunteers about Appalachian life, culture, and its role in the world.  Volunteers are challenged to think of how they might be "blessed" compared to the people they serve (easy for them to understand and think about) and also how those they serve might be more "blessed" than the "servants" (this involves many volunteers confronting their concept of blessing from being merely financial to considering other ways God blesses us all).  You can see more about SWAP at www.mcc.org/swap/.


SWAP’s newest location is in Hindman, KY.  It would not be possible without extensive support from the Hindman United Methodist Church and the Hindman Settlement School.  Hindman United Methodist's contribution to our ministry actually goes beyond mere support.  The church has provided sleeping accommodations for volunteer groups in the youth room, nursery, and Adult Sunday School room; made their storage building available for SWAP’s tools; allowed SWAP to use their kitchen facilities to feed the volunteers, given the use of the sanctuary for meals, devotionals, and an area to "hang out"; taken time to speak to visiting volunteers about Appalachia; helped out at many of the work sites; has vision for building a new storage area, volunteer quarters to facilitate year-round ministry, and housing for SWAP location coordinators; taken ownership of SWAP as a ministry of their church; and applied for and received United Methodist Grant money this year in order to help this partnership develop its ministry together.


If your church is looking for a summer service opportunity, you may want to join Hindman UMC in helping SWAP.  To learn more contact Peter Farquharson at SWAPHindmanLC@mcc.org.


Download the SWAP Serve and Learn brochure here.


Read an earlier article about the Hindman-SWAP partnership here.