“They are so very thankful”

18-year-old Luke Jordan of St. Elias in Munhall, Pa. helps build homes in Appalachia

by Lori Jordan
St. Elias, Munhall, Pa.

Once again, Luke Jordan, 18, parishioner of St. Elias in Munhall, Pa., traveled to Beattyville, Ky. with the Appalachian Work Camp.

He joined a group of 150 volunteers from St. Thomas the Apostle Parishes, Munhall, Pa.. and St. Joan of Arc Parish, South Park, Pa. to build and refurbish homes of low-income, elderly or needy people in the Appalachia Region.

Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in the United States. The living conditions for the unfortunate in this region are deplorable.

Father Dan Sweeney, from St. Thomas the Apostle, has involved himself and the parishes he has ministered to a relief effort for the people of Owsley County.

Over the past 40 years he has organized a week-long “building blitz.” He and his volunteers travel to Kentucky and spend ten days building homes, decks, additions and repairing current structures.

This summer the Appalachia Work Camp built two homes, repaired a trailer home and painted a home that AWC built 20-plus years ago. They also put on five porches and a handicap ramp.

In house no. 1, JR and Eva moved to the Booneville area in 2011 and have been living in a 25-foot travel trailer. They received a two-bedroom home on a hill above their trailer.

In house no. 2, Jamie received a two-bedroom home built next to her mother’s home on her property.

Jamie has three grown children and a handicapped grandchild, so her new home has a wheelchair ramp and walk in shower to accommodate a wheelchair.

Each home now has running water. Two water lines were dug by hand, each almost 400 feet.

In a mobile home repair, Cindy lost her husband to COVID last summer. She is suffering from serious health issues from her bout with the virus. She is now living alone in her mobile home.

They had closed in a back porch to make an extra bedroom for their grandson, but the ceiling was caving in. AWC repaired the room for her. This was a major undertaking.
AWC built a home over 20 years ago for Dion and the single mother of two has never been able to afford to have the home painted since it was built.

AWC gave it a fresh coat of paint. Exterior trim and porch were replaced.

“Working with the Appalachia Work Camp is a very heart-touching experience for me. The reaction of the families which received the homes was moving to say the least. They are so very thankful for what we do for them,” Luke said.

“This year was the first home blessing I attended. When Father Dan prayed and blessed the home we built, it was very emotional for all involved. Despite working in the daily storms, heat and humidity, I had a great and fun time in Kentucky and plan on returning next year.”

Due to the pandemic and inflation, the cost of building materials, food, gasoline etc. drastically increased.

Some of the fundraisers were canceled because of the pandemic. In June, a special collection was taken at St. Elias to help defray some of these costs. Parishioners and friends of St. Elias gave so generously to the cause.

Luke is already looking forward to going back to Kentucky in 2023.

Please keep Luke and all the volunteers in your prayers as they do God’s work.

Luke Jordan paints a home built more than 20 years ago by Appalachian Work Camp.