Mission Trip to Whitesville, WVa 2019

Last summer marked our 26th Mission Trip and 90 high school, college students and adults from our parish traveled to Whitesville, West Virginia to represent St Thomas Aquinas and spend a week building a community with the people in Whitesville. Whitesville is a small, quiet town, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and somewhat of a contrast in many ways to Alpharetta and Roswell. Yet it is a wonderful community of people that opens up and welcomes us each year we visit.

During our week last summer we met and touched the lives of a number of people (11 families in total) including:

•         Diane, an elderly lady living with her grandson, who allowed us to build a new porch, ramp and steps.

•         Melody, who cares for a special needs daughter and maintains a beautiful home with a roof that leaks when it rains, allowed us to re-deck and re-shingle the roof.

•         Vicki, who was facing knee surgery, allowed us to replace steps with a ramp, replace a window and door and repair a cutout in her attic.

•         Tiffany, who lives with and cares for her mother, allowed us to replace front and back doors, add gutters and make repairs to rotting floors.

•         Larry, who cares for his wife Linda who had suffered a stroke, allowed us to replace a porch roof over their deck that had collapsed because of snow.

•         Rosa, who lost her husband a few weeks before we arrived and cares for her granddaughter, allowed us to replace the deck railing, add front steps and replace her kitchen floor.

A little more about Larry and Rosa.  Larry was with us all week, alternating between caring for Linda and watching us rebuild his porch roof.  On Friday, he let us know that it was his birthday, so two in the group working on his home decided to celebrate his birthday.  They went and purchased balloons, a small cake and candles, a ribbon and a small gift from the local Family Dollar store.  We’re pretty sure that Larry hasn’t celebrated a birthday in a long time and based on his reaction (see the picture of Larry), we’re also sure that long after he’s forgotten we built a porch roof, he’ll remember the kindness shown to him on his birthday. 

Rosa was also with us all week while we worked on her home.  Being alone now with her husband gone, she lives with her home in the condition that it is.  It’s difficult for her to deal with needed repairs.  The simple repairs we did that week – replacing the porch railing to make the porch safe for her granddaughter and replacing the kitchen floor (see the two pictures of teens tearing out the old vinyl floor and the new kitchen floor) will always be a visual reminder to Rosa that she is loved and cared for and serve as a sign of hope for her as she moves forward with her life.

It is because of your support and prayers that these trips are possible. The people whose lives we are able to touch are oftentimes unsure of us and what to expect. For many of our teens, this trip is a new experience and an introduction to a powerful reality – God exists in our world because we allow Him to exist. He exists through the lives of the people He created in His image. Our teens come to understand this and do their part to allow Him to exist through the things that they do during that week. 

When we returned from Whitesville last summer, we left knowing that there were other people whose lives we could touch if we returned. So this summer, from June 15th – 23rd, we will travel back to Whitesville and will again ask for your support and prayers. We will need to raise money so that we can travel to Whitesville, so that we can pay for food and accommodations during the week (we’ll sleep in the classrooms at an elementary school and eat at the church) and so that we can purchase the materials we need to do what’s needed to help the people we meet.

For our trip this summer, we have 107 high school teens, college students and adults as part of our group, including 19 high school teens making the trip for the first time.  There are also more than 20 families asking for help with home repairs including:

•        closing in a porch to make bedroom for 10 year old nephew
•        front porch falling in
•        rotting kitchen floors needing repairs
•        rotting foundations needing repairs
•        leaking roofs / ceiling repairs
•        needing insulation
•        non-functioning bathrooms needing repairs
•        rotting and broken windows
and more!

We would like to ask you as our family and friends to commit to praying for our trip and to consider sponsoring us. If you can join us either prayerfully or financially, we would be most grateful. Please be assured that your support and prayers are life changing – for our teens as well as the people of Whitesville. After we return from our trip, we would like to tell you about our trip and the people whose lives we touched through our teens and because of your prayers and support.

For more information and to follow our trip, please visit www.stamissiontrip.com.

If you are able to support us, please include your email address and / or mailing address so that upon our return we can update you on our week in Whitesville and say thanks.

God bless you for your kindness and support.

Please note that all donations to this GoFundMe campaign are turned over to:

St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
535 Rucker Road
Alpharetta, GA 30004
(770) [phone redacted]
Tax ID# 58-1132909
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Ed Gallagher
Cumming, GA

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