Meet Sharron Scroggin, a dedicated ASP volunteer.
Jamie Loyack interviews fellow employee, Sharron Scroggin about her decade long work with Appalachia Service Project.
HagerSmith Principal, Sharron Scroggin, RLA, has been graciously volunteering a few weeks a year for the past decade for a great cause, the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). As an ASP chaperone and team leader for the past 10 years, we wanted to pay homage to her selfless dedication with an in-depth conversation about the ASP and what motivates her to continuously volunteer year after year.
What is the Appalachia Service Project?
Scroggin: ASP is a non-profit group started by a Methodist Minister familiar with problems facing the poor of Appalachia. His intent was to recruit volunteers, mostly youth, from around the country to rural Central Appalachia to repair homes for low-income families and the elderly. It has been in existence for over 45 years with hundreds of thousands of volunteers that have helped over 16,000 families.
How did you get involved?
Scroggin: My church, the Kirk of Kildaire was looking for folks that could volunteer to be chaperones and team leaders. Typically there is (1) male and (1) female that are chaperones/team leaders. ASP really encourages teens to volunteer and at the time my sons Joe and Sam were in their early teens and I thought this was a good thing for us to do as a family. It turned out to be a really rewarding experience for all of us. It also helps that our company, gives me some time to do it and I don’t have to use my vacation time, as much.
What was your 1st year like?
Scroggin: There was obviously some adjustment. Not all of the teens have experience doing home repair, but with the right guidance, they learn fast and work their tails off. Being teens there is always going to be some goofing off going on, but for the most part the kids give it their all. It did take me some time to get used to checking onto the bus each morning the 1st year. Every day before you leave your camp/center you have to check in. That means as you get on the bus you have to show another volunteer (usually a young college kid), that you have your “nails, hammer and saw”. I just couldn’t get used to having to check in every morning. The funny thing is that this year, my 10th, I went to check in and I had forgotten my hammer.
What are the conditions of the homes you work on?
Scroggin: Basically, a lot of rot and neglect happens over the years. Some homes were originally built on cedar stumps so we’d have to replace the foundation. There is usually a lot of termite damage, drainage issues, leaky pipes and roof problems too. Projects always start with the roof. Since it’s in the mountains there are always topographical challenges. My favorite project was building a 60’ long wheel chair ramp for a 60-year-old lady who couldn’t get out of her house to see the doctor. This past year we built a new subfloor in the bedroom for a 14-year-old girl. The floor was basically rotted throughout.
How do the teen volunteers hold up over the years?
Scroggin: I think overall the volunteers get a great life lesson. You never know how bad people have it until you see it in person. Some of these folks have no hot water, leaky roofs, no insulation and sometimes no power. The kids see this and really want to help. Most of the kids get so much out of it that they volunteer all 4 years in high school. It’s great to see them grow from 9th grade to 12th grade.
What kind of accommodations do you have as a volunteer?
Scroggin: It varies from year to year. We have stayed in elementary school gymnasiums, church halls and most recently in an abandoned summer camp that the ASP has purchased for housing the volunteers. When we stay in the gymnasiums or halls, the rooms are separated in half by a curtain with the boys on one side and the girls on the other. It’s kind of fun and the kids enjoy it. It takes a day or two to finally get some good sleep.
We like to say, “We leave on Sunday and will be definitely sleeping by Tuesday.”
What about showers …it must be hot and easy to get dirty after a long hard day of physical labor.
Scroggin: Glad you asked. There is a running saying from all the team leaders in regard to the work calendar. The countdown for the week goes something like this “3 more showers and we are done”. Some years are better than others. There was a year that we showered in an abandoned High School and the shower water was running out onto the parking lot. There was another year the boys had to create And sometimes we have a portable trailer brought in. The hot water goes fast, so all the team leaders are early to rise so they don’t miss out on the hot water. Showers are the highlight of the week, if you have hot water.
What kind of activities do you do after a hard day’s work?
Scroggin: We try and make it fun when we can. This year we had a rubber duck race as a fundraiser. We wanted to build a 14-year-old teen a new bed and needed to purchase more supplies to do so. Everyone put their money in and we had a duck race down the creek next to the house. In the evenings, we play games and one year 15 people were gathered around a 6” screen to watch a streaming of the NBA finals. But as always, lights out at 11:00 pm.
Will you keep doing it?
Scroggin: It’s hard but extremely rewarding not only for me but for the teenagers. Everyone seems to always be happy at the end of the week. We may be amateurs at renovations but we do a professional job. Our projects are going to last a long time and really help out those in need. If they continue to need a volunteer to be a team leader and chaperone, then I will continue to do it.
Congratulations, Sharron, on a decade long journey of volunteering for ASP. And thanks for being part of our team!
Learn more about Sharron, here.