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AO Banquet nets $35K, helps ministry catch-up from banner year

Samaritan House resident Wanda Bowels, left, assists Appalachian Outreach Director Jean-Ann Washam in the ministry’s food pantry earlier this spring.

Samaritan House resident Wanda Bowels, left, assists Appalachian Outreach Director Jean-Ann Washam in the ministry’s food pantry earlier this spring.

(Nov. 25, 2014) – While Appalachian Outreach experienced what leaders call “a remarkable 2013,” the banner year took an understandable toll on the ministry’s finances. The ministry made great strides recently with its first annual fundraising dinner, which yielded more than $35,000 from some 300 attendees.

“It’s a common problem for churches and nonprofits,” said AO Executive Director Jean-Ann Washam. “Whenever you have a capital campaign, and especially so for a building, you have resources that are directed to that project. And that draws on operational funds.”

In its thirtieth year of ministry, the Carson-Newman University program opened earlier this year its new Samaritan House, a 12,600 square foot facility that helps families regain a socioeconomic foothold through a 45-day shelter provision and training opportunities. It opened debt-free in March, thanks to proceeds from Second Source thrift store, volunteers and what Washam calls, “wonderful partners dedicated to serving the Lord.”

Situated on 10.2 donated acres, costs for the two-story edifice were held to some $950,000, thanks to volunteers, including scores of TBC-affiliated congregations. For the first quarter-century of Samaritan House’s existence, AO used what had been built in the 1920s as a single-family. Infrastructure issues, including plumbing and electrical loads, limited the number of people who could be served.

During the 2012 calendar year, Samaritan House offered shelter and meals to 103 people. From its opening in March of this year until just early October, the new facility had served 143 individuals.

Even so, the need remains great. Washam said the facility’s directors had to tell one family there would be no space available until a family moved out the next day. Afraid they might miss the opening, “they slept in their automobile that night to be first in line,” sighed Washam.

AO’s home repair ministry experienced a financial setback in the summer when two projects each doubled in cost – from $5,000 to $10,000 – as teams encountered unforeseen safety matters. “Once you start repairing someone’s home you cannot stop and say, ‘Well, we will only be able to get you this far…’ There is no use to put a new floor on rotting joists. And so you have to take care of unexpected things like that.”

Focusing on the new facility meant fewer home repair volunteers, which means there is a backlist of projects for summer 2014. The good news is that two weeks are already filled with church teams and assignments, which is a credit to those who have committed themselves to Kingdom service.

“God provides churches for us to work with, but he also sends us lots of individuals, people from all over and all walks of life, who want to be a part of what we try to do. We would not be here doing this without those individuals. And we are so very grateful for them,” concluded Washam.

Those interested in AO and varied ways to support it should call 865-475-5611, or email jwasham@cn.edu.

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