15620_GiftCAP is proud to recognize a woman who has been a friend of Christian Appalachian Project for more than a decade: Mrs. Julia Conner. It was an honor to interview Julia, and I walked away feeling truly energized by her optimism. The first thing she said was that her prayers had been answered by my phone call.

As we spoke, Julia shared the story of her childhood, which truly molded the woman she is today. After losing her father when she was a child, her mother moved the family into her grandparents’ home. When Julia was eight years old, her mother remarried an amazing man who passed away two years later during his service in the Army. Throughout all of their hardships, her mother would not even accept a handout. She worked in a factory and was able to provide for her children. “We were not rich, but we were comfortable,” said Julia. One of her fondest quotes from her mother was, “Nobody owes you a living. Work will not kill you. It’s up to you, what you are.”

When speaking of her adult life, Julia talks with admiration about her first husband and her three children. After her first husband passed away in 1992, she was fortunate enough to meet someone else, a Sunday school teacher to whom she has been happily married for 14 years. “God has blessed us. All of us!” she states.

I asked Julia how she first learned of CAP and if she had any connections to Appalachia. Her response was, “I know no one in Appalachia. I had heard a lot about Appalachia and one time while traveling on vacation, we pulled off the interstate and drove through the Appalachian region. It was a very poor area, very heartbreaking. Not too long after that, I received a brochure about CAP and how I could help their mission. I have been giving ever since.”

Mrs. Julia Conner has been a CAP donor for 13 years, and along with monetary donations, she mails multiple boxes of new items to the families in Appalachia each week. When asked about her passion for Appalachia, Julia says she truly enjoys helping people. She refers to reading her Bible and remarks that Christ did not have a checking account or CDs. Her mother taught her that it is much better to be on the giving end than on the receiving end. Julia truly enjoys shopping for clothes and items that she can donate to CAP. She states that she is always up for a sale and only buys items that are 70%–90% off. “I enjoy it. CAP’s mission means so much to me. I spend a lot of money, but I worked for it and this makes me happy. To leave a store with three baskets full of clothes and to have someone ask me what they are for, I get to tell them about CAP. This is my ministry.”

Sending boxes of new items to CAP brings Julia so much joy. She will tell you that she receives a calm peace when she prays over the boxes. Her husband joked with her mother once and said, “I would love to have a million dollars to give to your daughter and watch her give it away.

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15620_May2CAP operates two Child and Family Development Centers (CFDCs), that offer programs for infants to children up to five years old. Each center’s services are tailored to meet the particular needs of that community, and may include preschool and in-home visitation for infants and toddlers.

Meet Lucy. She has come full circle within CAP. As a child, Lucy’s parents enrolled her in what was then called the Headstart program in our Mt. Vernon, Kentucky location. This is a program for children that prepares them for kindergarten. As an adult, Lucy and her son moved to a nearby county where she was able to find employment. Unfortunately, Lucy’s job was eliminated, which forced her and her son to move back into her childhood home with her parents. Lucy began looking for a program to prepare her son, Ben, for public school. A friend told Lucy about CAP’s Child and Family Development Center, which she was already familiar with from her childhood. Because she had only positive memories of her experience at CAP, she did not hesitate to contact the program manager. Lucy enrolled her son in a home-based CAP program, and, next year, he will start attending the CFDC preschool program.

Lucy not only found success for her son through CAP, but she also found employment for herself! CAP is honored to welcome Lucy to the Child and Family Development Center, where she holds multiple positions. When asked how CAP has impacted her life, Lucy explains, “You can be yourself at CAP without fear of being judged. Truly, CAP is my second family. I remember being taught at the CFDC. Now I am an employee, and while the work can sometimes be stressful, I always love my work because I work alongside my second family.”

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15620_MaySummer is an exciting time here at the Christian Appalachian Project. When summer camp is in session, CAP comes alive with the sound of children’s laughter! Camp activities include swimming, arts and crafts, camping, Bible study, canoeing, basketball, hiking, fishing, and much more! Last year, Camp AJ introduced campers to Boom Swim. Boom Swim is a portable, floating, inflatable swimming pool that offers a netting enclosure to protect against lake wildlife as well as to keep all of the campers in the same swimming area for safety.

Our camps offer a rewarding week of learning and fun for close to 1,000 Appalachian children each year. The camp program provides essential socialization and learning opportunities for children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford such an enriching experience. For many campers, it is their only reprieve from the often challenging realities of their economic, social, and domestic environments during the year.

We call it “summer camp magic.” It’s that feeling campers, volunteers, and staff alike experience when they spend part of their summers at the overnight, recreational summer camps. Our mission is to provide an affordable summer camp experience to children from low income families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to camp. At camp, children ages 6 to 15 receive three meals a day, learn values such as respect and responsibility, and have the time of their lives doing so.

In addition to the summer camp programs, the camp facilities and staff offer support throughout the year to other CAP programs and outside organizations. Camp staffers spend the school year teaching in the public school systems on topics such as anti-bullying, consumer education, anger management, and character building. Camp facilities are also used for retreats, conferences, and other programs throughout the year.

In 2014 an overall total of 938 campers and 96 volunteers came to summer camp! We hope to meet and exceed these numbers with the upcoming summer!

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