New Agency Partners takes service and volunteering seriously. It’s an important part of who we are, and working in communities near and far is what we do. For the eighth year in a row, Client Manager for Personal and Life Insurance JoAnn Peck and Managing Partner Steve Peck have travelled to Johnson County, Kentucky, to lend a hand in America’s heartland.
Good Neighbors Inc. is a non-profit organization located in Van Lear, KY. Set in Appalachia, this organization strives to help the working poor, those they say have been “mugged by life.” They earn enough to provide for their family’s day-to-day needs, but there’s nothing left to make necessary repairs on a home that desperately needs it. Good Neighbors serves those who don’t qualify for public assistance but still need help. Year round, they organize mission trips for volunteers who want to help, which is how JoAnn and Steve became acquainted with the group.
Building Teams and Changing Lives
The Pecks, along with the other 20 adult volunteers, chaperone a group of over 50 teenagers who, through this experience, learn what it means to be a part of a team, working together to help a family in need. However, as Steve points out, “It might seem like we are teaching the teens the value of hard work, respect, and being a good neighbor, but quite honestly, all the adults on the trip are led and inspired by their example as much, if not more than, our own.”
Hard Work Pays Off
The majority of the volunteers will spend their week repairing or rebuilding houses. Tasks could include making a home wheelchair accessible, replacing floors damaged by flood waters, or saving a trailer home where an addition is falling off and threatening to collapse the home. In one case, a family of nine was living in a two-bedroom trailer. After taking in her sister’s children when her sister passed away, Susan and her husband, Abe, and their four children simply didn’t fit in their home anymore. Good Neighbors was able to help this family stay together after tragedy.
Construction can make a group of teens pretty hungry, and that’s where JoAnn and her cooking partner, Judy, step in. They take on the immense task of food shopping and cooking for the entire crew. “We do our best,” JoAnn says, “to keep everyone nourished so they can give it their all on the worksites. In addition to the kitchen, the local Walmart is our “worksite” and by week’s end, the greeters know us by name!”
The hard work is rewarding, but getting to return year after year to see how much better some of these families are doing keeps the Pecks motivated to do it all again the next year. In addition, learning new skills, making new friends, and mentoring young men and women makes the trip a win for everyone.
Leading by Example
Steve knows not everyone can travel to Appalachia, but recognizes we can all do something. As an organization, New Agency Partners encourages employees to give back to their community. He says, “We have a great group of employees here and are fortunate to support an employee’s volunteer activities wherever possible. I feel this is a great way to lead by example and hopefully inspire others to volunteer for their chosen cause in their chosen community. No expectations, just support.”
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