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World War II Veteran Supports Service in Appalachia

Submitted by katkinson on Fri, 01/25/2019 - 10:34

The Marion and Thomas Teneralli Housing and Family Advocacy Building was dedicated at CAP headquarters in Paintsville, Kentucky. The building is the home to programs that serve children and their families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities in Johnson, Martin, and Floyd counties.

Thomas Teneralli grew up desperately poor, and while he was stationed in Japan after the end of World War II, he saw firsthand the devastation of Japanese cities. He witnessed poverty and hunger and would often take food and share it with starving Japanese families and their children.

“I made the stock gift to Christian Appalachian Project because it fulfilled a promise I made to God when I was a young man,” Teneralli said. “I promised children who struggled with poverty daily.”

When Teneralli was a child, his family lived in a factory town and he worked on his grandparents’ farm. As a young man, he was a house-framing carpenter by trade, but later founded a successful company. He honored his promise to God by giving CAP the largest stock gift by a living donor in its history.

“With his incredible act of generosity, which will impact hundreds of individuals in need in Appalachia, I refer to Mr. Teneralli as ‘Tom Terrific.’ All of us at CAP thank God for Mr. Teneralli’s thoughtfulness and generosity,” said Guy Adams. “This gift will enable CAP to continue our work in helping participants with basic needs, as well as repairing and rebuilding substandard homes.”

In 2017, 1,543 individuals received critical, emergency, and family oriented community service through our Family Advocacy Program, and 327 homes were repaired through CAP’s Housing Program. The naming of the building will honor Teneralli and his late wife, Marion. Gifts like the one made by Teneralli will contribute to CAP’s expanded impact in Appalachia for years to come.

Teneralli never forgot his upbringing, and now, in the later years of his life, he hopes his gift will inspire young people wrestling with poverty in one of America’s poorest regions. “I would tell them don’t spend a lot of time looking down at your feet,” Teneralli said. “Look up toward the horizon. It’s not where you start from in life that matters, but where you want to go and how you want to get there that is important.”