Hello again from Kentucky!

Yesterday marked the end of the first week I’ve been in the Blue Grass State.  It seems like most of that week was taken up by training, with two days in the car going from location to location then Friday with the Hospice training.

For a bit of local history, on Monday I went to the Nursing School to listen to a lady who graduated from the program in 1959 talk about how things were when she was a nurse in the area.  This was during the time that the war’s Jeep surplus was making it into the mountains, but they still did a lot of work via horseback.  So many differences culturally have occurred in the past 30-40 years!  Ever since this area opened up to more visitors and travelers, new norms of how women and babies should be treated (some positive, some not so positive) and food (the lady speaking claimed that pop was the worst thing to hit the mountains) have changed dramatically!

Wednesday was busy volunteering with Laurel Mission.  I think they are a summer camp spot that churches sign up to go to in order to do missionary work in this area.  A lot of good is done there, helping out local families with fixing up their houses.  The day I went with two other girls, we mostly spent our time helping clean the camp, pick up trash on the side of the road with kids, and finding ticks.   When we returned to Wendover, all of the Couriers started to get ready for the Frontier Bound dinner.  Part of the duties of Couriers is to help out the staff when a large dinner is being put on, so we helped set up, served food, and cleaned.  There were 65 students from the school here, so it was overwhelming!

On Thursday I was at the elementry school with another Courier helping with a summer reading program.  The program is concentrating on literacy and cultural awareness this year, so the theme is Native Americans.  We read “Legend of the Indian Paintbrush” and helped them weave dream catchers.  Around this time another volunteer group, this time from Big Creek, came in and kind of took over.  Big Creek is another missionary, summer type thing.  It was not until dealing with the missionaries that I realized that this area is considered in need of help by the state’s population.  Between this and being shown buses where families live, I feel like I am just now starting to understand the surface.

Friday had a Breastfeeding awareness talk sponsored by the WIC program.  It was such an informative and frustrating talk, because we went over all of the benefits of breast feeding then all of the reasons why not only America’s culture, but the local counties’ cultures make breast feeding difficult.  Afterwards we went to the Hospice and trained for volunteering there.  Hospice of the Bluegrass is a wonderful organization that offers amazing services without cost to the family that needs it.  I’m really looking forward to giving my time and self to their cause.

On Friday we painted for two and a half hours.  The local Habitat for Humanity has a store here in Hyden where they sell things for the home and home repair.  They want to paint over the light blue walls and make them white to brighten up the place and make it look cleaner, so the Couriers are helping out with that.  For kicks we went to a county fair afterwards.  It was amazing, filled with people from the area and different booths ranging from home made jellies, books that a local man wrote, an artist doing local portraits to collect Appalachia history, and a group speaking out against mountain top removal coal mining.  There was live Bluegrass music as well!  I cannot tell the differences between most songs, but it is really relaxing to listen to it.  After the fair was done, a square dancing event was held.  It was so much fun to dance together as a community!  It will definitely be one of my best memories here.

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