Bethlehem Farm, Inc. is thanking its volunteers for their dedication, which enabled its low-income home repair program to continue serving neighbors in Summers, Monroe, and Greenbrier Counties throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Volunteers passed safety screening protocols and served the local community this year through roof replacements, wheelchair ramp construction, floor repairs, bathroom renovations, and much more. Volunteers greatly enjoyed meeting local homeowners and building relationships through working together, sharing stories, or enjoying an outdoor lunch conversation.
In 2021, Bethlehem Farm volunteers contributed 10,530 hours of free labor to the local community. Combined with the free labor of the full-time Caretakers who lead the work, this translates to $252,404 of donated labor invested in the local community. Bethlehem Farm was able to help folks with 150 essential home repair projects, including an extensive, long-term project, making homes safer, warmer and drier.
Through the “Couldn’t do it without you!” recognition project, Bethlehem Farm showed appreciation to its volunteers while also supporting West Virginia businesses. Hand-thrown pottery mugs were purchased for long term volunteers from MUD Ceramics in Thomas, WV. Volunteer T-shirts were made by Mountain Mindful, a social enterprise headquartered in southern West Virginia which hires people who face barriers to employment to create socially and environmentally sustainable products. These unique thank-you gifts made in West Virginia will remind Bethlehem Farm’s dedicated volunteers that they are appreciated and that West Virginia is home to them.
“Our volunteers’ generosity is one of the critical ingredients to Bethlehem Farm’s recipe for community-building. We are so thankful for their hard work in making homes safer, warmer, and drier in the local area, and for their openness to all that the folks around here have to teach them as well. Volunteers: we couldn’t do it without you!” says Eric Fitts, Bethlehem Farm Director.
This project is made possible with support by Volunteer West Virginia. Bethlehem Farm, Inc. received a $500 mini-grant from Volunteer West to host a volunteer recognition project. Volunteer West Virginia started the Volunteer Recognition Mini Grant Program to recognize West Virginia’s volunteers for their outstanding volunteerism during COVID-19. Over 3,500 volunteers, from throughout the state, will be recognized through this program. To learn more visit www.volunteer.wv.gov and bethlehemfarm.net .
More About Bethlehem Farm:
Bethlehem Farm, Inc. is a nonprofit organization near Talcott, West Virginia, that transforms lives through service with the local community and the teaching of sustainable practices. The Farm hosts more than 400 volunteers per year, mostly high school and college students, who join “service weeks” doing home repair with low-income residents.
Bethlehem Farm, Inc.’s “Repairing Homes, Renewing Communities” program (RHRC) addresses two vital needs in our local community of the Greenbrier Valley: the need for safe, warm, and dry housing conditions and the need for connection and relationship. In the three counties we serve, median home values are unusually low, significant numbers of households have housing problems, and poverty rates exceed the national average by wide margins. In addition, great numbers of the residents are elderly and/or disabled, which makes it harder to overcome these challenging situations.
The purpose of RHRC is to improve the housing conditions of low-income residents of Summers, Monroe, and Greenbrier Counties while forming relationships with local residents. RHRC was developed in response to input from local residents. Typical RHRC home repair projects include: roof repair or replacement, insulation, weatherization, window replacement, porch repair, additions, wheelchair ramps, and exterior siding. Volunteers come to Bethlehem Farm to serve through home repair but also to learn about Appalachian culture and sustainable practices. They form relationships with local homeowners as they work alongside each other. Many homeowners remain friends with Bethlehem Farm long after the RHRC project is completed.