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West Virginia Photo Journal Digest

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Global Volunteers service programs adhere to our over arching Philosophy of Service in every community Specifically local people are always in charge of work projects and volunteers contribute to community driven initiatives alongside local people At all times we observe our policy stating Safety Trumps Everything Orientation sessions are conducted on the first day in country and morning and evening meetings give volunteers time to organize and review activities The team journal shared at morning meetings is a mainstay of every Global Volunteers program A daily collaborative report by one or two team members it reflects on the day s work and experiences In many partner communities volunteers contribute to several projects in different locations during the day Through the team journal volunteers hear about the projects and experiences of their teammates While such journaling requires effort most volunteers report they love the variety of recollections and stories The journal becomes an enjoyable way to communicate shared and individual memories and becomes a unique keepsake for each volunteer team Volunteers tell us that many years later the team journal allows them to reminisce and cherish their time spent with local people and teammates website for available service program dates This journal digest complete with photos is a collection of journal excerpts from volunteers serving in West Virginia 2

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M e s s a g e o f t h e Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones you ll start having positive results Willie Nelson D a y

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SATURDAY DIANE J o u r n a l E n t r y We had no idea what we were doing or what we would find A leap of faith took 16 people from different states different occupations different walks to Beards Folk West Virginia for a week of service We all were attracted by the opportunity to help this community in a part of our country many of us have never visited Our arrivals were in stages Rita MN Nichole LA and Mary Kay Charlotte were the first two to arrive and quickly offered their organizational skills in the kitchen They didn t know each other and were from different parts of the country Kevin and Alexa husband and wife from St Louis Jaime Virginia both from Miami Renee MN and Carolyn and Emma mother daughter from New Jersey met up later and the group began to bond But when Jordan and Timmy uncle nephew from Detroit Tammy Oakland Steve and Peter father son from Chicago and Trent Virginia Beach arrived the party really got started As we began to settle into our rooms introductions were made and friendships were beginning to form Dinner was expertly orchestrated by Timmy who doled out responsibilities for spaghetti meat sauce salad and cheesy garlic bread Our evening meeting allowed us to meet our leader for the week Karen lives in NYC and is clearly passionate about her work and this community She gave us an overview of the proposed projects and our schedule but euphemized that John David would be meeting with us tomorrow to discuss everything in detail This group who arrived only a few hours earlier was clearly becoming a team and looking forward to the week s challenges rewards relationships and experiences 4

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SUNDAY DIANE J o u r n a l E n t r y At 7 00 a m the teenagers started gathering in the kitchen where they began preparing breakfast French toast scrambled eggs fruit salad leftover muffins They had everything ready as all others came out of their rooms ready to begin the day Breakfast was casual and filled with conversation At 9 00 a m we gathered as a full team and let Norman begin to lead us through some orientation and team building First we took turns introducing ourselves specifically mentioning any volunteer experiences we may have had and naming particular strengths that could possibly be put to use this week Norman also gave an introduction to Global Volunteers summarizing and explaining the organization s philosophy of service and principles of practice one important point we are not on a trip to West Virginia We are on a service program After the intros and the overview we brainstormed two lists 1 our team s goals for the week and 2 characteristics of an effective team For the first of these each person wrote three goals they think we have while we re in West Virginia We put this on the wall on index cards and then grouped them into broad categories which were basically to learn about the local culture to serve the community as we re asked to bond as a group and to grow individually We then expanded this into a list of ten more specific goals Our list of effective group characteristics involved things such as mutual respect tolerance open communication strong leadership buy in by everyone and being kind to each other and to ourselves 5

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SUNDAY After our two hour discussion we had lunch and some people played basketball Around 1 00 we got in the vans and with Brenda as our tour guide went out to see the local area Our first stop was in Gauley Bridge where Brenda showed us an apartment complex operated by SALS and she told us the story of how under her initiative and leadership that neighborhood was transformed from a place of frequent violence and severe poverty to a stable family oriented place with good places to live and even a playground We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting some of the glorious natural sites in the area specifically Cathedral Falls where there were many butterflies maybe yellow Swallowtails and rocks in the creek to hop across and a small pool of water at the base of the falls to cool off your feet and then the New River Gorge We stopped at the National Park Services visitors center and got a spectacular view of the gorge After a stop at Dairy Queen for some very welcome ice cream we hit Kroger for some dinner supplies and then headed back to Beards Fork with a quick stop at the SALS office to meet John David the director of SALS 6

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MONDAY MARK J o u r n a l E n t r y Our first full day of work and the excitement level was very high Everyone started to get up around 7 00 a m to eat breakfast and prepare for the day At 8 30 a m we had our Morning Meeting We heard a great inspirational Message of the Day from Fergus and a thoroughly descriptive and well written journal entry from Dan As we had divided into our three groups the previous night we knew where we were going and with whom The Oak Hill group set off in a van with LeToya Artie drove the group to Boomer to meet Brenda and the other group stayed here to start with Kenna The Oak Hill group Caitlin Sara Simon and Christine went to the Historic Oak Hill School While they waited to get started they spoke with LeToya Then they were given their mission and they assembled a railing for a wheelchair ramp In addition to the railing they also prepared for the community college presentation by setting up chairs and tables The Boomer Group Sarah S Ryan Bray and Ben had a great start to their day as well Artie took them to the house to be worked on and they all started digging an 18 inch ditch as a passageway through intense foliage Work was also done inside the house moving equipment and removing trash 7

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MONDAY The third group ine Colin Fergus and Maddy along with John stayed at the facility to work on the garden and school They weeded the garden and used an electric stapler to put down a weed barrier Without a lot of direction they worked cooperatively and figured it out Gardening also included play time with the goats Then they moved onto the school and painted the walls in preparation for a mural Felicia and Dan also stayed behind at the school and helped until they left to pick up our rental vans for errands After getting the vans Felicia and Dan checked in with the Oak Hill group ultimately bringing them back to the facility All the groups arrived back around 4 00 p m and multiple games of volleyball basketball and Spikeball were played As Brenda made dinner we decided to take a trip to a local swimming hole We returned to a delicious taco salad dinner followed by peach cobbler Brenda outdid herself After dinner we figured out the logistics for Tuesday and then all the kids cooperatively cleaned dried and put away a heap of dishes Afterwards games were played outside and Felicia made some of her famous popcorn although she insists it was not her best batch The group disagrees Lights out was at 10 30 and all was well It was a good day that included a little frustration but also a great deal of fun hard work patience community and laughter 8

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M e s s a g e o f t h e The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do Kobe Bryant D a y

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TUESDAY HELEN J o u r n a l E n t r y Today was the second day of actual volunteer work so everyone woke up perhaps slightly less bright eyed and bushy tailed than the day before expectedly so Nevertheless everyone woke up dutifully around 7 a m Everyone ate breakfast and prepared for the day to begin in time for our daily team meeting at 8 30 At the meeting we discussed our plans for the day and checked in with how our team goals for the week were going Caitlin started us off with an inspiring quote about resilience and adversity in the face of challenges which proved to be the theme for our day Then Mrs Malgieri shared with us her extremely eloquent journal for Monday This recap proved to be a smooth segway into our discussion of our team goals and characteristics of an effective team This check in allowed us to recenter ourselves and our focus for the day After this team discussion quick meditation and partner exercise all of which were led marvelously by Mr Roche everyone split up into their work groups and left for respective volunteer vicinities Much akin to Caitlin s Message of the Day each group faced some challenges throughout the day but overcame them through teamwork determination and a can do attitude The Regina group struggled with some frustration due to a late start and some disorganization but came together and accomplished every task put in front of them regardless While Ryan went with Miss Brenda to gather the shovels from the Boomer site Caitlin Sara Colin Mrs Malgieri Mrs Sharples and Mr Roche got to meet some local residents of both the human and the canine variety When the group had all its materials and teammates back they worked quickly 10

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TUESDAY and efficiently to transport a goat pen from behind the apartment complex to the bottom of a hill across the street from the buildings Despite some truck trouble the group accomplished both this and the restringing of the goat enclosure To refuel after a hard day s work the team grabbed some grub at McDonald s Ryan impressed everyone by consuming two chicken sandwiches two apple pies and a large Sprite a true testament to how hard he and the entire group worked The Oak Hill group followed this pattern of successes despite setbacks When the team first arrived they shared some intensely emotional moments with local volunteers as they reminisced and reflected on their stories and lives in West Virginia A little while afterwards the work began and the team jumped into action While Ben helped finish paving and securing the wheelchair ramp Sarah ine and Mrs Brown did some heavy lifting and organizing in the school s basement The group faced many challenges such as heat and thunderstorms However the team persevered and felt extremely satisfied in the hard work that they had accomplished 11

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TUESDAY The on site group or as they would prefer to be called The Hangers faced a variety of issues but showed tremendous problem solving and teamwork to overcome them Fergus Maddy Braydon Simon and Mr Downs all started the morning out weeding scraping algae planting brussel sprouts and setting up a hose to make some mud for the pigs While the group had a few disordered moments they always managed to get back on track After a break for lunch the group worked closely together to plan sketch and begin painting a mural which is guaranteed to turn out to be a masterpiece The mural will showcase some of the most prominent and breath taking physical features of West Virginia s geography which will only be heightened by the incredible talents of Trinity Church s finest artists When the respective volunteer groups reconvened at HQ everyone was understandably exhausted However after a quick break for showers snacks and hydration everyone regathered outside to continue the seemingly endless game of volleyball peppering After a couple of hours the team came in to be wowed for the third time by Brenda s exquisite cuisine Later in the evening everyone met for the nightly re group After a quick checkin a recap of the day and some planning for tomorrow everyone was feeling serene and excited for whatever the next day of work had to offer After a few wild rounds of Mafia everyone started winding down and getting ready for bed Even in seemingly mundane activities like dishes laundry and card games it has become increasingly evident that deeper and more intimate bonds have been formed between everyone here From the hours of work spent together the friendly dispositions of every volunteer and chaperone and the challenges that have been faced and overcome by everyone here a closer relationship is already being formed Everyone is excited for that bond to continue to deepen and to continuously defeat the challenges we face 12

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WEDNESDAY EMMA J o u r n a l E n t r y Just another day in paradise A few degrees cooler than yesterday was a relief The day had started off smooth with everyone heading off in their different directions whether it was to the town of Oak Hill or the building next to our sleeping quarters for the summer camp Rio Kathy Ethan and Tom worked with the Youth Build Academy on the Miller House The project has progressed significantly since I first arrived Work is progressing with the insulation work almost complete and drywall installation showing on a few walls Already many of the walls have been drywalled and there is canvas on the outside Most of my work consisted of removing a rotted piece of drywall on the second floor of the house Prying apart the drywall was fun After lunch at the school Kenna Zari and Marcia again painted at the Historic Oak Hill School and Ethan joined them in the afternoon The room that they have been working on is looking fresh Hannah and Lee helped out at the Energy Express summer program in Beards Fork in the morning From the photos that they have shown us it looks like the children really are connecting with Hannah The group had planned to go to Tom s a small diner popular with the locals for lunch We met at 12 15 and ate a DELICIOUS meal of huge burgers and loaded hot dogs with shakes from out of this world In the afternoon Marcia and Kenna joined Hannah and Lee in the Read and Feed program distributing meals and books to children in various communities while Tom and I went to the Miller s house We spent the rest of the day power washing two sides of the accommodation It was very satisfying to watch the powe 13

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WEDNESDAY power washer blast away all the mold and grime leaving the surface to look new again I am very grateful to have this experience and though I am excited to return home I feel that I will definitely miss this place As we reach the halfway point I reflect on our goals to learn teach help and have fun and I think we are actually reaching our collective goals even though it may not be the exact ways we imagine while at home SALS kids shared generously as usual about their lives with various stories about incest suicide marriages divorces children out of wedlock domestic abuse as well as alcohol and drug abuse and time spent in correctional facilities They have a great deal of difficulty passing the Learner s Permit test as well as the GED A possible Global Volunteer program could provide tutoring in these areas Today we heard the story of one of the 19 year old workers and what his life was like at home The most humbling part of this experience has been seeing those kids at work every day with a smile on their face and then hearing them recount their hardship firsthand I attended a Pentecostal Service at the Christian Revival Center in Robson This church is known for faith healing speaking in tongues and rolling on the floor at times It is a small congregation There were ten of us at the 7 00 p m service There are no books hymn books or programs for the service Service opened with an inspirational message and prayer led by one of the members followed by singing hymns with words and pictures flashed on a video screen followed by the preacher s sermon and Bible readings The congregation could not have been nicer to their guest from Chicago who was allowed to take pictures and notes Several references were made to me from the pulpit 14

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WEDNESDAY The major theme was that we were all saved by the blood of Jesus and if we had faith we would be healed of anything if it was God s will We are not afraid of dying but while we are here we want to live a full life in good health Everyone in the congregation seemed at peace and very happy After work and dinner we got our own little concert from Billy Payne a local country artist It was great getting to listen to a genre of music I wouldn t normally play myself and Billy was unbelievably friendly and engaged One thing that I will take with me from this experience is how the people around here treat one person just like another and how quickly they let friendships begin to grow We have found pleasure in children s smiles Brenda s dinners brief rain showers we ve had fun when a child gets excited about reading or lights up when seeing us again Even a trip to Kroger s Grocery is proving to be a place to make memories There is lots to be grateful for in this life and this week we are grateful to spend it together in Beards Fork 15

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M e s s a g e o f t h e Live life to the fullest and focus on the positive Matt Cameron D a y

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THURSDAY JIM J o u r n a l E n t r y A rusted out car and two rusted pickup trucks sit like silent sentries on the field in front of Mr Gray s house Freddy Gray was one of seven children who grew up in the four room house in Mount Hope All five boys shared one small bedroom Two sisters slept on the couch Papa Gray was a Reverend for several small churches in the area in the 1950s and 1960s By that time Mount Hope and the surrounding hollers were already becoming impoverished communities due to the closing of several large coal mining companies Left without transferrable skills and available jobs people started leaving the area As is still typical now the Grays had plenty of family in Mount Hope Freddy grew up with cousins and extended family all around As he reached his 20s there was little economic opportunity for a young man and he moved away to Cincinnati He built a life raised a family retired then eventually moved back to his childhood home in West Virginia several years ago to be near family again a pattern we heard over and over again when speaking with people this week When we arrived on Monday with the SALS team we found Mr Gray s house in complete and startling disrepair At first glance you d assume it was uninhabitable larger than dinner plate sized holes in the walls opened the home to the outside a sagging multi patched roof a kitchen floor falling through to the basement no shower the only heat provided by a propane tank But as we started to help the SALS team work on repairs and had time to look closer we saw so much more In fact the house the land and Mount Hope itself are metaphorical representations of all that is Appalachia time weary and hardworn poverty stricken isolated yet also history fierce resilient and defiant in the face of economic hardship and the modern world 17

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THURSDAY The outside world sees West Virginia as swallowed by drugs poverty singleparent households low education levels and low income It is repeatedly abandoned by the coal industry which leaves environmental devastation black lung and unemployment in its wake The land itself is harsh almost impossible to farm rocky and unforgiving Yet even in all this the people are strong and loving and the land is breathtakingly beautiful Mr Gray s stories of growing up in the area reflect Appalachian characteristics we heard and felt again and again during the week fiery pride tenacious selfsufficiency a timidity towards outsiders and a warm hearted sense of community connection that not only harkens back to a time long ago but also arms against hardships and helps navigate the future There is a quiet strength in the people a passionate vibrancy and connection to their past and an ability to build a future from their defiant strengths This week I ve found a great depth of beauty within both the people and the land It s something I will take with me as I leave Fayette County and will often reflect upon learn from and share 18

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FRIDAY NANCY J o u r n a l E n t r y I think I can safely speak for all when I say that we woke up this morning feeling both happy and sad Happy when we reflected on all the great work that had been accomplished and friendships that had been made sad to realize that we d soon be saying good bye to each other and the great people of Beards Fork and beyond The day before Timmy had shared with us a very meaningful quote Life is about using the whole box of crayons And that we did on our final day Rene and Alexa returned to Oak Hill to their daily assignment of packaging and delivering meals to kids who so wanted a nice warm lunch They had delivered so many meals that week and had surely made many kids happy and full Tammy and Rita spent that day in Oak Hill as well organizing the library in the Oak Hill Community Center much to John David and his wife s delight Mary Kay Jordan Virginia and Jamie stayed in Beards Fork to finish building the new fence for the duck pond Clearing the area and digging holes for the posts and erecting them was no easy task and we were all grateful for their hard work Nicole Kevin Steve and Peter went to the Regina Apartments They put some finishing touches on the apartment that many of us had helped to paint all week They also helped a tenant named Tanya move from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor They met Tanya s son Zach would be celebrating his ninth birthday the following day They were all invited to his birthday party They also met Zach s dog Sophia and played with her too 19

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FRIDAY Timmy Emma and Carolyn spent the morning at the school reading one on one with the children from each of the different classes They painted with them too and much to everyone s delight they played with an enormous parachute in the newly cleaned out gym It had rained earlier that day and so the kids were going to stay inside for recess Paul and all of the counselors were so grateful to have such a large clean open space for the kids to play in The fact that the counselors could find the parachute in the newly cleaned and organized closet that Mary Kay and Emma had worked on was the icing on the cake Trent stayed in Beards Fork and cleaned the dorm for us We all greatly appreciated his cleaning efforts in the kitchen that had gotten so much use and beyond Trent also fed the ducks and chickens He toured the church again to see what else he could clean and almost most importantly he kept in contact with Artie as they both desperately tried to get a dumpster to come to the school to pick up items they cleaned out of the gym and the church As many of us returned to the dorm from our daily duties and waited for the final few to come back we played cards listened to ghost stories that Andrew told us listened to Mark play the piano which really needs to be tuned and we looked forward to the evening ahead Brenda surprised us and stopped by to make us two peach cobblers They looked and smelled delicious and we d enjoy them later on 20

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FRIDAY Then to everyone s delight we heard the truck outside which was delivering our beloved dumpster Everyone was so happy to be able to see another project to completion The huge pile of garbage which included some very large pieces of broken equipment was thrown into the dumpster This ensured that it could not find its way back into the school taking up precious space The crew then followed the dumpster as it was driven down to the Church to pick up more waste Same thought there as well Who knew a dumpster could make a group so happy Billy then showed up and took us to Tamarack where we shopped for a bit marveling at the beautiful crafts and other items for sale just prior to us sharing one last meal together The partner for whom Rita works had left her a lovely note prior to her departure wishing her and the others on the team well and giving her a monetary gift treating them to dinner It was a lovely gesture and very much appreciated by the team We then all drove over to John David s home for dessert We met his wife son and other family members John David interviewed a few of us for his radio show and the others spent time taking some last minute pictures and reminiscing about the week We ate some delicious pie ice cream and watermelon John David thanked us all again for our hard work and we were pleasantly surprised to be sent off with fireworks Perfect ending to a great night We all returned to the dorm to pack and say our good byes It wasn t easy to say the least Many of us started this week long journey not knowing anyone but we all left as great friends It was a memory making week for sure A time when we could look back and see concrete evidence of all our hard work We must take a moment to thank Karen for keeping us all on track Her job is not an easy one but she made it seem effortless No doubt we will miss Karen as well So before the water works begin again instead of saying good bye we ll just say see you again on another service program Thank you Global Volunteers 21

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GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS 375 East Little Canada Road St Paul MN 55117 1628 USA 800 487 1074 toll free 651 482 0915 fax globalvolunteers org email globalvolunteers org GlobalVolunteers globalvolunteers globlvolunteers