Connie West


Sign up now. Deadline is January 25, 2020. However, we will fill spots as we receive deposits. If we have space available after January 25th  we will continue to take participants until 2 weeks prior to departure.  We will form a waiting list if necessary. Contact us to see if a spot is available and to make a deposit. 

“The mountains are calling and I must go." John Muir

WHERE: Appalachian South Folklife Center, Pipestem, West Virginia (10 hours from Evanston, plus stops). For more info see  www.folklifecenter.org & https://www.facebook.com/appalachian.folklife .  For a good history of the Appalachian South Folklife Center see  http://appvoices.org/2016/04/19/folklife-center/ and, more specifically, its founder Don West see http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/995

Sleeping Arrangements:  Either a dorm group room (1 for male and 1 for female)


or separate rooms of 2 to 4 in each room. This depends on which dorm works for our group. Bathrooms and showers.

Food: We will purchase food supplies and cook our own meals, and make our own bag lunches for work sites.

WHEN: August 1, 2020-August 8, 2020  

COST: $325 per person for food, lodging and programming at site. Travel in rental vans is  included,  provided through fundraising. $50 due on sign up, $137.50 due 4/15 and 6/1. Contact us for scholarships.

WHO: This is a multi-generational trip. Under 18 must be accompanied by parent, guardian or other adult approved by them. Ages 13 and up may work at the work sites. Children under 13 may attend with parent or guardian but they must be supervised at all times by a parent or guardian at any work site. The site leader will not be able to do that. They may be assigned some age appropriate tasks. 


We will work with the Appalachian South Folklife Center and serve the community needs. The work usually consists of light construction (roofing, building ramps, painting and minor repairs for elderly and persons with disabilities) or gardening. We will also participate in cultural activities to experience the community, history, culture, music and environment of this area. 


-We go to be a church of encounter.

-We are on a pilgrimage to be changed, share our experience and become agents of change.

-Our understanding and empathy grow as we stand on another’s land, in their sacred space and with their community. News stories now come with faces and lives.

-Our witness becomes more direct, credible and impactful.

-In the end….we learn to love better.


The rates of poverty and addiction are high in certain areas of Appalachia.  In addition, industries motivated by profit have broken promises, and misled communities about environmental and economic effects of the industries' actions.

According to The Child Welfare League of America, approximately 25% of West Virginia’s families are living below the poverty line. According to Kids Count data center, a national foundation that aims to ensure the well-being of children across the nation, approximately 30% of Mercer County’s children fall below the poverty line.  Mercer County ranked 49th out of 55 counties in child well-being, with WV ranking 43rd in the nation. Approximately 65% of the children in both Mercer and Summers Counties are either free or reduced lunch (Kids Count, 2010). 

However, through self-determination and a focus on education, culture, traditions, the environment and adaptability, these communities demonstrate an indelible spirit of resilience, strength and hope. Appalachian South Folklife Center is truly a center that fosters pride. It offers free cultural, educational and social opportunities to children who have the opportunity to participate in activities they could not otherwise afford. Their children often return as counselors and staff members during or after college. There is a rich heritage of music and appreciation for the land here that is powerful to witness, especially while immersed in the environment as you listen, learn and experience. ASFC hosts a cultural fest each Fall that draws its community together in celebration. 


Pope Francis calls us to be a church of encounter.  Join us when St. Nick’s goes far beyond our borders to Pipestem, West Virginia and you will be transformed. You will return with a deeper understanding of and stronger sense of community with our sisters and brothers in West Virginia.