LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It’s no secret the Appalachian region is one of the most impoverished areas in the United States; in fact, the poverty rate is more than double the national average. A young northern Kentucky priest saw the poverty that was plaguing Appalachia and decided to make a difference.
It’s been 50 years since Reverend Ralph Beiting decided to take action, forming what is now known as the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP). Since that time, CAP has offered the people of Appalachia services including domestic violence shelters, clothing and food donations, housing repair and reconstruction and disaster relief.
This year, CAP is celebrating their 50th anniversary as an interdenominational, non-profit Christian organization. CAP’s mission is to serve people in need in Appalachia by providing physical, spiritual and emotional support through a wide variety of programs and various services.
“We would love to end poverty,” said CAP President and CEO Guy Adams. “That’s not our mission though; our mission is to help people in Appalachia. We make progress one person, one family at a time. We always have and we always will.”
CAP currently has 160 full-time employees, 50 long-term volunteers and more than 1,000 short-term volunteers. The organization is always accepting volunteers for the many services it provides to help meet the needs of the people in Appalachia.
One of CAP’s biggest programs is Operation Sharing. In the last year, Operation Sharing distributed $82.7 million in donated goods to the people of Appalachia. Operation Sharing supports disaster relief programs with delivery of bottle water, home repair supplies and other goods. Additionally, they received and distributed a donation of children’s books that took more than 29 tractor-trailers to transport.
In May 2012, CAP helped the areas effected by tornadoes by providing more than 19,000 hours of volunteer work in three counties.