To the ASP family of volunteers and supporters,
Our thoughts and prayers have been with you these last few weeks. We are in the midst of a time unlike any we have experienced before. The COVID-19 crisis is continuing to evolve quickly, and while we are all working to “flatten the curve,” it has become clear that our world will be continuing to fight this pandemic for the months to come . At this time, based on the recommendations from national health officials, ASP has made the difficult decision to suspend our summer volunteer hosting until August 1, 2020.
This means we will not host summer volunteers for the first time in our 51-year history. Though it was one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make, it was done with prayerful deliberation by our Executive Leadership Team and Board of Directors, with the focus of removing any threat of the virus spreading further as a result of ASP’s operations in Central Appalachia.
My heart is heavy as I think about the many families who are expecting our help, the summer staff who are anxious to serve, the communities that would benefit from our presence, our full-time staff who are called to be a part of this incredible ministry and the volunteers whose very lives would be changed. I know each of you may be feeling your own sense of loss and grief.
In spite of COVID-19, the families of Central Appalachia still need our assistance, perhaps now more than ever. In the last two weeks, across our five-state service area, over 700,000 people filed first-time unemployment applications. As we are committed to serve this region, we must press on in creative ways. The first 50 years of ASP’s ministry have been built on radical acts of hope, generosity and faith. In that same spirit, ASP will execute our mission this summer, though it will look different than expected. We ask you to remain creative with us— join us in thinking of new ways to be the hands and feet of Christ in Appalachia and in your own communities this summer.
We have been serving the families of Central Appalachia for over 50 years and refuse to let this virus stop us. I have seen first-hand the miracles that are possible when this incredible band of dedicated ASP brothers and sisters come together, and I know we will make it through these difficult times. Maybe it is fitting that ASP must make this announcement as we prepare for Easter weekend. We have hope in the Resurrection, and I have faith that we will rise from the depths of this crisis and serve together again very soon. In fact, we cannot wait to see you!
In the meantime, let’s continue to pray for our world and its leaders. Pray for those whose lives have been affected by this horrible virus.
God has given ASP a great, big wonderful family. For that we should all be thankful. Know that you are loved and prayed for, today and always,
President and CEO, Appalachia Service Project