In the early 1980’s, a preacher from Philippi, West Virginia preached at a tent revival in New Jersey at our church. He told about the physical and spiritual needs of his community of Chestnut Ridge. This started yearly trips to Chestnut Ridge where we were able to bring a helping hand to the community.
In the early 1990’s the non-profit Community Association Reinforcing Education, doing business as Appalachian Community CARE was formed. This organization was created to provide after school tutoring, computer classes and to stand in the gap to provide other resources the Chestnut Ridge Community had need of.
In the mid 1990’s, World Servants, a short term mission organization now based out of Minneapolis, partnered with Appalachian Community CARE and stared bringing mission teams to the area. World Vision also joined the partnership by providing support to Appalachian Community CARE with their outreach programs.
In 2001, we went from becoming yearly volunteers in West Virginia to full time missionaries with World Servants. For 10 years we were the West Virginia area directors where we facilitated mission trips for thousands of people. We have worked in Barbour, Taylor, Harrison, Braxton, Nicholas, Doddridge and Monongalia counties. Our teams were fed and housed in the local schools or churches. Many families had improvements done to their homes such as painting, new roofs, building of decks and additions along with some general clean up. We were also able to partner with the communities in some type of outreach like a vacation bible school, sports camp, visiting the elderly/nursing homes, delivering of firewood and food baskets.
In the summer of 2011 we resigned from World Servants and continued the mission work with the local organization, Appalachian Community CARE. We are very excited about this change as we will be able to work deeper with the communities in Barbour County, where we live and also continue with mission work in other counties. We have an interest in agriculture and would like to help families with the raising of their gardens by extending their growing season using high tunnels. We are now responsible for the marketing of the Chestnut Ridge Community Center. This is a place where we can not only house mission teams, but we can also have retreats, conferences, meetings, outreach events, birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, and funeral dinners. We are starting an Arts Center, where we have local artists looking to explore the community’s creative talents. We will be starting with a pottery center and can branch to weaving, sculpting and painting. What an exciting day it will be when we can employee community to create pottery, scarves, etc. that we can then sell to become sustainable. Also, we are partnered with New Vision Renewable Energy, where local people are creating solar panels and biodiesel to reduce the cost of their utilities.
As we look at our work with Appalachian Community CARE, we are excited about the difference we can make working together to bring about hope and change in our communities.
Jeff and Lisa Sickler