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Warmer, Safer, Drier

Fairfield Fixer-Uppers in West Virginia––Senior Pilgrim Fellowship



Rory Smith, Carolyn Doonan, and Kathryn Ekstract get ready to repair and build at a home in Appalachia.

Each summer since 1978, local teens and adults step outside their comfort zone, and outside Fairfield County, to embark on a weeklong, life changing experience. Members of the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship (SPF) youth group at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church spend all year building their community of faith while preparing for the highly anticipated trip. One need not be a member of the church to participate, and all denominations are welcome. All that is required is an open mind and heart, and a desire to serve others in need.

The Appalachia Service Project (ASP) began some 10 years earlier in Kentucky by Reverend Glenn Evans, who decided to connect hard-working teens with some of the nation’s poorest communities. The motto would be “warmer, safer, drier.” What began in 1969 as 50 teens and adults volunteering to repair homes in one small town, has grown nationally to 16,231 volunteers working with 493 families across Appalachia in 2017. 

When Reverend Alida Ward was hired as the new pastor at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, the importance of maintaining the ASP program was very clear. “When I arrived in 1989, it was a small program,” she explains, “maybe 30 to 40 kids.” Fast forward to June 2017, when five coach buses and eleven vans transported 206 Fairfield teens and 94 adult volunteers to three counties in West Virginia. They spent the next week installing insulation, repairing roofs, and working on any other necessary projects in homes across the region. With even more high schoolers registered to attend in 2018, ASP has become the crown jewel of the SPF program. 

Roni and Mike Widmer have volunteered for ten years, even before their own children were old enough to participate. “I just can’t imagine a year without ASP,” Roni says. “It grounds me. It’s where I feel most at ease and feel like I am being my true self.” Soon, the Widmer kids were joining in. “It was amazing to share in the experience of the week and to compare notes and perspectives,” she says. “I think Mike and I were both a little scared that the trip wouldn’t live up to the expectations we had set in talking about it for so long.” But when son Blake participated all four years of high school, and returned last year as a junior advisor, the same year his younger sister Devenny attended for the first time, their worries were allayed. “I think my heart is just a little bit bigger with every trip I take to
Appalachia.”

Katie Hinkle, a Fairfield Ludlowe senior, will be participating for the fourth time this June. “I always remember hearing about the big kids who went down to West Virginia, and my parents would always tell me about how one day that would be me,” she says. “That day came before I knew it.”  Katie says she is continually inspired by the “amazing leadership”  and other participants on the trip. “They are what truly makes the trip so unique each year and always make me want to come back.” Sam Hawley, a Fairfield Prep senior, is also preparing for his fourth ASP trip. “Prep’s motto ‘to be men for others’ helped inspire me,” he explains. “My mom also encouraged me because she knew about the program from when she was a kid, and never got the chance to go.” He believes the trip gives participants a better sense of humanity, and a better view of the world. His goal is to be “the longest ever to consecutively dedicate a week a year to ASP”.  “I hope I am still doing it when I retire!” 

Ward has high standards for her participants, and sets significant goals for the trip, but she says the main goal is letting people know that they are “capable of great things.” “Getting out of the bubble is important,” she explains. “ASP is a place that lets you accomplish so much and is life-changing for a lot of kids. And, it is life-changing for families to be comfortable in their own homes.” Ward’s personal impact also cannot  be ignored. “There wouldn’t be almost 300 people going on this trip now without Reverend Ward,” says Roni. “The spirit of the trip wouldn’t be the same without her,” she continues. “Alida sets the tone for everything, and it all trickles down. Every single kid, and every single adult on the trip loves her.” They also always looking for additional adult chaperones. 

The program, according to Ward, is about much more than just fixing houses. “ASP is a relationship ministry with housing on the side,” she explains. “The relationships formed are just as important as fixing a roof.” Roni calls Alida “the spiritual glue of the trip.” “Once you’ve opened your heart to the stories of the families you are helping, the love they are sharing with you...you realize there is something bigger than you.”


How they do it?
Each spring, a national team of college students review applications from families in Appalachia, make site visits, and assess the “achievability” of the projects. Come summer, volunteers from all over the country arrive at selected locations throughout Appalachia, and work begins. Meanwhile, Rev. Ward is hard at work in Fairfield organizing transportation, housing, meals, and work crews for her participants. They arrive and continue the projects where the prior groups left off. After the seven week program concludes, families have greatly improved living situations and have made dozens of new friends. For more information about volunteering for ASP, contact award@greenfieldhillchurch.com

 

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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

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Sunday, October 14, 2018 - Sunday, October 21, 2018, during regular library hours Pequot Library’s 21st Annual Art Show A Fundraiser for Pequot Library Featuring art by local and regional...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Learn winning plays, key strategies, and new vocabulary in a fun and friendly environment. For grades 3-12. The club is taught by Dusty Brown, who competed in both the 2017 North American Scrabble...

Cost: $125 per student

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
View map »


Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

More information

JJ Grey’s tour this fall will give fans an opportunity to see him stripped down, without a band, and in an intimate setting. Born and bred in Florida, JJ Grey plays music that mixes raw...

Cost: $42 Members Save:$3 /tckt

Where:
The Warehouse at Fairfield Theatre Company
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: (203) 259 1036
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Tickets are on sale now for The Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation's presentation of Christmas Bingo: It's a Ho-Ho-Holy Night, an interactive, hilarious comedy about a...

Cost: 30.00

Where:
Rogers Park Middle School
21 Memorial Drive
Danbury`, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation
Telephone: 203-501-7424
Contact Name: Wendy Ann Mitchell
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Top of the Hill: New Paintings,” a solo exhibition featuring new work by Brian Rutenberg. The show will open with a reception for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Evocation of light is ever present in the romantic and experiential landscapes of Ira Barkoff. His recent works convey the spontaneity and the maturity of the artist’s hand and dedication to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: 1953
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

As the sun sets, the spirits come out to play... Take a lantern-lit tour through the old Mill Hill graveyard! Hear chilling tales based on real events from Norwalk’s hidden past at the...

Cost: $15 - $20

Where:
Mill Hill Historic Park
2 East Wall St.
Parking Across the Street
Norwalk, CT  06851
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Sponsor: Norwalk Historical Society
Telephone: 203-846-0525
Contact Name: Norwalk Historical Society
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Sunday, October 14, 2018 - Sunday, October 21, 2018, during regular library hours Pequot Library’s 21st Annual Art Show A Fundraiser for Pequot Library Featuring art by local and regional...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
View map »


Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

More information

Please join us on Saturday, October 20, for Family Day: Arts of Liberia. Family Day activities include arts & crafts and a child friendly gallery tour designed for ages 4-10. Session 1: 1 - 2:30...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bellarmine Hall
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Sunday, October 14, 2018 - Sunday, October 21, 2018, during regular library hours Pequot Library’s 21st Annual Art Show A Fundraiser for Pequot Library Featuring art by local and regional...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

A Regional Culinary Viaggio Through Italy with Julia della Croce. Demonstration Class Under Julia’s expert tutelage, our menu will meander through the less touristy regions of Italy:...

Cost: $115

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Rd
NEW MILFORD, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: Kim Prange
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

It’s wine o’clock somewhere! GoodWorks Entertainment invites all wine aficionados to swirl, sip, and savor at their second annual wine festival, Fairfield Uncorked Wine Festival (FKA...

Cost: Early Bird: $55 / Regular: $65 / Day Of: $75; Members Save:$5 - $10 /tckt

Where:
The Warehouse at FTC
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

What happens when you mix the vocal style of an artist like Michael McDonald with the more modern passions of musical storytellers like Andrew Ripp or Matthew Mayfield? You get a rich, audible...

Cost: $25/ticket; Members Save: $3/ticket

Where:
StageOne at FTC
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Tickets are on sale now for The Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation's presentation of Christmas Bingo: It's a Ho-Ho-Holy Night, an interactive, hilarious comedy about a...

Cost: 30.00

Where:
Rogers Park Middle School
21 Memorial Drive
Danbury`, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation
Telephone: 203-501-7424
Contact Name: Wendy Ann Mitchell
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Top of the Hill: New Paintings,” a solo exhibition featuring new work by Brian Rutenberg. The show will open with a reception for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Evocation of light is ever present in the romantic and experiential landscapes of Ira Barkoff. His recent works convey the spontaneity and the maturity of the artist’s hand and dedication to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: 1953
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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