Duquesne University has a long-standing relationship with the Appalachian communities of West Virginia, and our student groups have been traveling to work in these communities for a number of years.
This year we will be traveling to Mullens, West Virginia with a group of 17 students, 2 student leaders, and a Spiritan Campus Ministry staffer for a five-day trip during the university’s spring break. Mullens is a small coal and mining town in southern West Virginia that struggles with severe poverty. Each year, leaders of this rural community work closely with our group to communicate what projects are most important to the community and what specific resources are needed.
Past projects have included rebuilding a set of stairs, replacing a porch, making roof repairs, and replacing gutters. The winter conditions in this region are harsh, and it is vital to the community that everyone has adequate housing. This year we will focus on projects that foster the strong community spirit of Mullens, like the creation of a community garden and apple orchard and construction of “high tunnels,” which are all season greenhouses for fruits and vegetables. We will also work in the local food pantry as we have in years past.
Our goal is to provide whatever resources are deemed necessary by the community and to connect with the members of the community by spending time with them. We will face the harsh winter with determination, and we are grateful to our hosts for the opportunity to serve and learn about this area of the country.