PRESTONSBURG — A local mission group is transforming one Prestonsburg woman’s house in a big way this week, with help from a Louisville church.
Prestonsburg native Betty Hicks said she approached Hand in Hand Ministries after hearing about the organization from a friend. She filled out the application, and with in a few short weeks, her home was scheduled for a major upgrade.
Hicks’ story is not an uncommon one in Eastern Kentucky — a single mother with four children, living in a home for over a year with no running water, no heat or air conditioning, and a dilapidated roof.
All of that is going to change this week.
According to Gail Spradlin, assistant director of Hand in Hand Ministries at the Auxier Center, Hicks’ home has already received a new addition of a bathroom and is in the process of receiving vinyl siding, a new roof and a remodeled kitchen. The group has also provided Betty with some baby toys for her 10-month-old twins, and will also be providing some new furniture.
Hicks says her children are already excited about being about to take a bath in their own home.
This week, the labor force for the work on Hicks’ home is being provided by St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and youth group from Louisville. Spradlin says that the ministry has more than 500 volunteers come through the area every year.
“We work and start doing repairs in Floyd, Martin, Magoffin and Johnson counties,” Spradlin said. “We normally begin work in March and go through October.”
Hand in Hand Ministries is located at the Auxier Center, where other programs are also available to the community, including a food pantry, a free GED program, a free drug prevention martial arts class, basic computer classes, and quilting.
The Auxier Center was founded in 2000 by Charlie and Sue Schaffer, at the behest of the late Rev. Ralph Beiting, founder of Christian Appalachian Project. The Auxier Center was established to address the needs of the area and become a hub for community activities for one of the poorest regions of the nation where over 75 percent of the schoolchildren live in homes below the poverty level.
Hand in Hand Ministries also does foreign mission work to Belize and Nicaragua.