Who We Are
Appalachia Work Camp is a non-profit organization. We are a group of people from the Pittsburgh area who, under the direction of Fr. Dan Sweeney, head to the hills of Appalachia, Kentucky each year to build houses, do repair work and put on additions to existing homes. The Appalachia Work Camp was founded over 30 years ago. The purpose of this program is to give our youth a sense of self-worth and accomplishment. Fr. Dan has been blessed with many adults who give generously of their time and talents as well as to be leaders and help and mentor our youth. In the process, we have been able to change the lives of many less fortunate in the hills of Kentucky. The primary reason for the Appalachia Work Camp experience is to give our youth an opportunity to see how others live not far from home, to help them appreciate all that they have in life, and give them an opportunity to work side by side with other youths. It helps build character and personality skills. They will realize what they can accomplish by working with committed adult leadership. In short, the reason for the existence of this program is for the youth. We, as adults, must never lose sight of this. Often, adults and youth have the mentality that this program is a "cause" to help the poor. This is not the primary reason Instead, it is to help our youth develop an appreciation and respect for life. The end result is helping the less fortunate to improve their living conditions. Each year, there is an average of 125 people whose ages range from 14 to 86 who are a part of the program.
Those of you who are new to this experience may be wondering just exactly what a work camp is all about. The work camp experience allows you to personally experience what you have read about in the Bible and have talked about in church. Jesus commands us to give, serve, feed, clothe, and take risks. Talk is not enough. Work camp offers opportunities for you to reach out and serve in Jesus' name. Work camp gives us the chance to refurbish, refresh, and renew run-down homes of low-income, elderly, or needy people. Other characteristics of work camp include:
Work camps create an environment for developing Christian faith
A work camp is like fertile soil where seeds can grow. Self-esteem is enhanced. Confidence builds. Enthusiasm for Christian service blooms. The Spirit of God flows through serving hands, loving hearts, and developing minds.
Work camps focus on hard work
Talk to anyone who has attended one of our work camps. Each year we build homes from the ground up, a few additions to existing dwellings and countless repair jobs. This is VERY demanding work for seven consecutive days. Days where the temperature is above 90 degrees. Work camp means "keep going" even when the bees are biting and your hands are full of blisters. But all of your time and commitments will pay off when you when you see the spirit of Jesus shining through the smiles of both residents and workers.
Work camps shout "Action!"
Christian love flows through the hills and hollers of poverty areas, feelings of care and concern echo through the sound of pounding hammers. A widow's loneliness fades as her home begins to shine with a new coat of paint. The hugs from her new friends on the work crew will warm her memories when winter storms swirl around her home.
Work camp brings willing workers together to help needy people
You will discover what the kingdom of God is really like as you work with old and new friends to repair and winterize someone else's house. You become united in your purpose. You learn to rely on one another. Together, you build a commitment to your mission. Elderly couples, widows and widowers, low-income families, handicapped people, and anyone who is lonely or forgotten welcome all the help they can get.
Work camps give you a feeling of accomplishment
You will grow through learning first hand how to face challenges, develop new abilities, make decisions, and carry personal responsibility. Each person is responsible for a part of the total project. Each person faces the inner search for strength, skill, stamina, resourcefulness, and creativity. Each person must react to the daily fluctuations and surprises of new people, new tasks, and new settings.
Work camps pave the way to service
Jesus described his followers as active servants who love, feed, clothe, and visit people in need. His words create nagging uneasiness in Christians who seldom serve or give of themselves. The work camp puts to use the power God created in us. After taking God's Word, we want to launch out from attending church services to putting Christ's love into action. A work camp can be the vessel that takes us from preparation to performance.
Work camps present a clear picture of the presence of God
God chooses to make Himself known through the people who commit their lives to Him. When our ideas and plans for service remain inside the walls of the church buildings, we have little impact on people outside the Church. But when the church sends a mission force of energetic workers into the homes of people who are lonely or in need, people start to notice God's action.
By accompanying us to Appalachia, you will have a chance to do something active, challenging, and meaningful with your friends. You will have the chance to energize your faith by working together to significantly improve someone's home. Those of you who have attended work camps in the previous years accomplished so much despite the heat and humidity. You surely expressed Christian love and servant hood, commitment and understanding, awareness of your real ability to help others, and a personal realization that God works wonders with willing hands.
How You Can Help
We are a non-profit organization listed as Appalachia Work Camp Program, Inc, Certificate of Registration No. 31458, Identification No. 03-0513070. Your tax deductible gift would help reduce the cost of building supplies and enable us to continue to help the people in the hills of Appalachia, Kentucky. If you would like to help, please send a check or money order, payable to Appalachia Work Camp, to: Fr. Dan Sweeney, c/o St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 363 W. 11th Avenue Extension, Homestead, PA 15120. Each person that attends this trip is required to pay $125.00 to help cover costs They are also required to support and attend the many fundraising projects that are done throughout the year. Please check out our list of current fundraisers that we have going on along with where and when to be a part of the event. If you are a business and would like to help sponsor us, please fill out the Sponsor form in the forms section of this website. If you would like to learn more about the Appalachia Work Camp, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 412-461-1054.