The Mountain Outreach program was established by two Cumberland College students who saw a need, and then acted out of Christian charity and energetic leadership to see that need was met. In the summer of 1982, a local student took a friend and fellow student on a driving tour of the mountains around Williamsburg. The friend, who had been raised in a middle class family far from Appalachia, was overwhelmed by the sight of tarpaper shacks with neither electricity nor running water. The two young men quickly decided to do what they could to help.
Their first project was to repair and patch one ramshackle house where an elderly man lived with his mentally handicapped son. It soon became clear that patching wouldn’t be enough, so the students, neither with experience in construction, decided to build the old man a new house. In a short time, they had recruited twenty more students to volunteer their time and had persuaded local builders and businesses to donate expertise, equipment, and supplies. By the time the boys graduated in 1984, they and their team had built nine houses—and a ministry that continues to demonstrate the profound impact a single person can have on the lives of those he serves.
Mountain Outreach has been nationally recognized for its work several times: the Action 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 1996 “Make a Difference Day” competition; and President George H. Bush honored Mountain Outreach as his 220th Daily Point of Light.
In keeping with the tradition of the program, no experience is needed to be a Mountain Outreach volunteer—only a willingness to learn and to help others. Student volunteers may apply any service hours contributed to Mountain Outreach projects towards fulfillment of the Leadership/Service Transcript.
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