High school students and adults from the Ridgefield area are taking part in their annual Appalachia Service Project mission trip this week, with 127 volunteers working to make homes ‘warmer, safer and drier’ in Kentucky and 50 others carrying out repairs locally.

Based at Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, Jesse Lee ASP is in its 38th year. Due to the pandemic, Jesse Lee ASP shared their efforts this year, offering the option of the traditional Appalachian trip and an “at home” version.

The 127 traveling volunteers left early Saturday morning after a commissioning ceremony at Jesse Lee with family and friends. They parted ways, working this week in Floyd and Magoffin counties in Kentucky. Teams of two adults and four students team up to repair, build, or replace roofs, foundations, mobile home foundations, and wheelchair ramps, while developing relationships with home residents. They eat and sleep in “centres” organized and managed in schools and churches by the national organization ASP.

Saturday’s farewell celebration included recognizing five Ridgefield teenagers who participated in ASP through all four years of high school. They are (shown in photo) Caspar Browning, Annie Haughney, Eric Pereira, PJ Reiner and Alexa Sasse.

Additionally, Wilton’s Parker Etzbach was named the recipient of the John Ward Love in Action Award, a $1,000 scholarship created in 2017 that honors John Ward, who is in his 34th year with Jesse Lee ASP. The scholarship is awarded to a senior graduate who has participated in ASP at least once and who has engaged in ongoing community service in areas other than ASP.

The Kentucky volunteers will return to Ridgefield in a long caravan of horns on Sunday, July 10 around 4 p.m. for a welcome reception for Jesse Lee. For an updated return time, check the website www.jesseleeasp.org Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, 50 additional Jesse Lee ASP volunteers are working as a team this week to repair one home each in Danbury, Redding and Ridgefield. Projects include painting, building stairs, landscaping, building a wheelchair ramp and repairing windows. In the ASP tradition, they also eat meals together and join “evening meetings”.