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Mountain Outreach Offers New Home Management Training


Williamsburg, Ky. – University of the Cumberlands (UC) Mountain Outreach (MO) program has put their hearts and hard labor into changing the lives of locals in need and they continue to improve their program as the years come. Marc Hensley, Director of Mountain Outreach, and his devoted team of students and volunteers have built a total of 143 homes since the program began. Within the last three years, MO has included a mandatory seminar called, New Home Recipient and Financial Management.

Mountain Outreach realized throughout the years that the majority of their new home recipients were first time home owners. They created an informative seminar with the assistance of the Bell-Whitley curriculum, to discuss important topics that they may encounter. Charles Lester, a financial advisor from Bell-Whitley Community Action and Housing Program, volunteered his time speak to the new home recipients as MO prepared to place the Berta and Davis families in their new homes. Marc Hensley and Jerry Thomas, an MO volunteer, also spoke at the seminar. This was the team’s third New Home Recipient and Financial Management Seminar.

“It is great that we can give these families new homes but we need to make sure they can keep it up and pay their bills,” explained Marc Hensley. “They need to get a crash course in home repairs and ways to manage their finances so they can easily maintain their homes. It would be terrible if they got their new homes repossessed because they didn’t manage their money well. It is also important that the home owners take pride in their homes and keep up with basic home maintenance work.”

Lester began the seminar by passing out a packet of worksheets that corresponded with his Power Point presentation. Included in the handouts were worksheets about prioritizing budgets, monthly income worksheets, sample letters, information about setting goals, spending plans, tips on how to trim expenses, how to make money management easy, and more helpful advice. Lester discussed credit, its importance in financial matters, how to increase your credit, and cautioned them on ways to avoid damaging their credit. “If you don’t have the money to pay for something,” explained Lester, “don’t put it on a credit card.”

The families listened, followed along in their packet, and watched the slideshow as Charles Lester wrapped up his lecture. At the end, he asked and answered questions the families had. Then, Marc Hensley spoke about septic tanks and proper disposal and use of them. He explained the entire process of how the septic tanks work to provide the new home owners with a more concise understanding of the importance of their proper care and treatment. Jerry Thomas, who is also a licensed electrician, spoke to the students and families about electrical safety and ways to childproof the homes to protect the children from electrocution.

“Too much current and strips can cause either the breaker to trip or cause a fire,” said Thomas. “Be cautious and if you can’t easily fix it yourself or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to call an electrician.”

The attitude from the Mountain Outreach team was so humble and full of joy as they saw the happiness and ease in the eyes of the two families. God is magnified through these workers and their hearts are so full of kindness and giving. As the seminar came to a close and all the questions had been answered, an obvious sense of relief was present as the families realized that the only next step they had to do was get their keys and move into their new homes.

This mandatory meeting has only been available for the last three years but it will continue to take place before every new home recipient gets their house. It provides the families with information that may seem foreign to them and some that might just be review but either way, it will prepare them to move in and remove unwanted pressure or stress that may be lingering. This seminar is also a nice way to get the families together with the team of builders and let them express their gratitude and well wishes for one another.

“I found this meeting to be very helpful,” said new home recipient, Samantha Davis. “Honestly, there were several things discussed in the presentation that I did not have a clue about that I needed to know. Marc has been so helpful along the way and has let us know what’s going on the entire time the home was being built. He and Mountain Outreach have both been blessings to our family and I am very grateful that he thought to have a meeting like this to explain the basics. God has been good to us.”

University of the Cumberlands’ Mountain Outreach is a student-led building organization that has been nationally recognized for its work: The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty selected it as one of ten charities to receive the Samaritan Award; USA Today noted the program in its “Make a Difference Day” competition; President George H. Bush honored Mountain Outreach as his 220th Daily Point of Light; University of the Cumberlands is ranked as one of the top schools by Washington Monthly because of the service its students provide to the community; and the University continues to be placed on the President’s “Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll” in recognition of our students’ commitment to community service. This is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for dedication to community-based service projects.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; 10 pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit