Recently, the St. Vincent Mission in Floyd County, Kentucky found an alternate source of power for their ministry to supplement the power of prayer: solar energy.
Serving their community since 1968, the St. Vincent Mission “is a community of people in Appalachia dedicated to sharing the expression of Christian Values.” According to their mission statement, they “believe that all persons have a God-ordained right to the basic needs of life in order to meet their full potential.” They’ve also come to find that they can fulfill many of these needs through reliance on solar power.
With the help of grants and donations to cover the $25,000 cost, the Mission was able to install 27 solar panels across their roof. The energy generated by the panels powers the volunteer house, the home repair garage, a woodworking shop and their RV pad, all of which should pay for itself within a decade.
After the installation, the Mission saw its energy bills drop from $250 per month to $15.
That’s $235 more each month that can be redirected toward much-needed community support for the impoverished region. Their county has a poverty rate of 27%, well above the state and national average. Erin Bottomlee, the director of the St. Vincent Mission, wants to prioritize helping people who are currently in poverty by taking advantage of services that can propel them out of poverty altogether.
When St. Vincent Mission began its operations in the 60s, their main objective was to provide social work for all of Floyd County, running the county’s first food pantry, providing home improvements, and offering child care. Beyond meeting the immediate survival needs of individuals in poverty, the Mission then strived to fulfill people’s creative and spiritual needs by offering arts and crafts, weekend youth programs, dance classes, and Bible school classes. Today, St. Vincent Mission partners with many area organizations to sow seeds of hope and continual improvement into people’s lives.
The Mission is doing more than installing solar panels to take advantage of Creation’s gifts for its community. Through the Grow Appalachia Project, St. Vincent Mission connects people to sustainable living. In addition to a community garden and beehive to harvest local honey from, the Mission offers a Garden Program to help people learn how to grow their own food. The Garden Program’s goals include teaching environmentally friendly, sustainable, organic gardening techniques; providing cost effective ways to cook and preserve food to maximize nutrition; assisting with the development of garden plans for the mountainous region and its four seasons; distributing seeds and tools to community members; and connecting with the local farmers market to help participants discover the income potential of their gardens.
Food grown in the community garden is also distributed through the organization’s food pantry. Beyond these outreach opportunities, the Mission continues to provide emergency assistance, home repairs, summer youth programs, and access to gently used clothing and furniture to individuals and families in Floyd County.
With the help from the Light of the World—and the sun—the Mission expects to be able to do even more than this to improve the quality of life in Floyd County, Kentucky. Individuals in the region who are interested in supporting the Garden Program can give in-kind donations or volunteer as part of the program. The Mission greatly appreciates monetary donations, but they are also always looking for more people to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their community.
Visit the St. Vincent Mission website to learn more about volunteer opportunities if you live in the region, or find out how you can donate to their cause today.