Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nonprofit helps rural people improve homes, says 'poverty looks different in rural areas'

Rural, faith-based, nonprofit organizations often rely on volunteers and don't have much money, forcing them to raise funds in some interesting ways. Alabama Rural Ministry, which works to improve poverty housing in the state's eastern rural areas, is doing just that. Allison Griffin of The Prattville Progress reports that for the past four years the ministry has led a fundraising campaign called "No More Shacks!" during which Director Lisa Pierce spends a week in a makeshift shack next to a busy road in or near Auburn, Ala.

Pierce spends all day, every day, in the shack answering questions of passersby and collecting donations. This year, she built another shack and invited area preachers and volunteers to stay in it for 24 hours. Her goal is to raise $50,000, with all proceeds going directly to home repairs for low-income rural people. ARM typically works with elderly people or people with disabilities who are often on fixed incomes. (Photo by Mickey Welsh: Pierce works on shack)

Pierce started ARM at the Auburn Wesley Foundation 15 years ago, and has seen the organization grow ever since. "Working in outlying areas is the primary focus, Pierce said, because 'poverty looks different in the rural communities,'" Griffin reports. Many rural families are living on family land and dignity is very important to them, making even those who are need the most help reluctant to ask for help. "ARM spends times with the families it helps, getting to know them and letting them know that the work they will do is a partnership," Griffin writes. And ARM stays in touch with them when the work is done. (Read more)

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