Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Volunteers and AmeriCorps Members

Questions about CAP

Are you affiliated with any particular Christian denomination or church?

Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) is an interdenominational Christian organization. We are an independent nonprofit primarily funded by individual donors and churches rather than a particular denomination. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and are invited to participate in regular spiritual reflection. Though most are, volunteers are not required to be Christian, and openness to theological diversity is essential for community life.

How long has CAP been around?

We have been committed to improving the lives of Appalachian children, families and seniors who are struggling to escape poverty since our founding more than 50 years ago. CAP began with a young Catholic priest from northern Kentucky, Reverend Ralph W. Beiting. After being assigned to pastor a large portion of east-central Kentucky, he realized that – aside from the need for spiritual guidance – the people of Appalachia were in great need of physical support as well. With the help of family and friends, he was able to bring food, clothing and other necessities to area residents. His efforts were achieving such great success that in 1964, the name and organization, Christian Appalachian Project came to be. With the help of donors, volunteers, staff, and the communities it serves, CAP has grown to touch the lives of more than 1 million people each year. Changing lives, teaching skills, improving the community – this is CAP.

Is CAP is trustworthy? 

Yes! Over ourr 55+ year history we have developed a good reputation with our donors, volunteers, employees, and participants. But don't just take our word for it! There are a lot of charities out there, so checking with a watchdog organization is always a good idea. We are very proud of our four star rating on Charity Navigator and welcome you to review their findings. 

About serving with CAP

How long is the commitment?

Volunteers can serve for as little as one day to as long as a year, and commitment varies by each opportunity. Explore our opportunities or contact us for help with matching you with the best opportunity for your availaility.

Who serves with CAP?

We are blessed to have volunteers and AmeriCorps members from all age groups — from young folks, to retirees, and everyone in between. Our volunteers and members come from our own communities and from all over the United States. They represent many different backgrounds, education levels, professions, and experiences. Their commonality is that they feel called to joining us in building hope, transforming lives, and sharing Christ's love through service in Appalachia.

Is there an upper age limit on volunteers?

No. One of the unique qualities of CAP volunteer life is the age diversity among our volunteers. CAP recognizes the unique gifts, knowledge, and experience that “encore career” volunteers have to offer, and 30% of our One-Year volunteers are 50 or older.

Can I volunteer with my spouse? My significant other? My children?

We encourage married couples to serve with us. Both individuals must complete separate applications and be accepted. Unmarried or engaged couples and friends are welcome to apply and serve with us, but they may not live in the same volunteer community. We cannot accommodate children in our volunteer communities, but volunteers with children do have the opportunity to secure their own housing while serving with us. Families with children age 14 or older may inquire about serving for a week as a group.

Can I bring my pet, service dog, or emotional support animal with me?

Unfortunately, we are not able to accomodate animals in our volunteer houses. Volunteers with pets, service dogs, or emotional support animals may not live in community, but they may choose our Local Living option and secure their own housing.

Applying to be a CAP volunteer

What are you looking for in a volunteer or member?

We are seeking compassionate, self-starting, fast-learning, independent, and mission-driven individuals who possess an exceptional amount of flexibility, maturity, interpersonal skills, and openness to people — both participants and fellow volunteers/members — who may be very different from themselves. Moreover, we’re looking for volunteers and members who are passionate about serving people who are marginalized and living in poverty, and are ready to fully immerse themselves in their service and community. Many of our one-year positions require someone who can drive a CAP vehicle. Because we require our drivers to be 21 or older, our ideal candidate for one-year service placements is 21 or older with a valid driver’s license and a good driving record. We will consider exceptional applicants ages 18-20 as we do have a limited number of positions available for non-drivers.

Most of our positions do require a moderate to extensive amount of physical activity and lifting 20–80 pounds. Some positions also require an extensive amount of driving on rural roads. Please contact us to discuss any concerns you may have about our service requirements.

Do I have to apply by a certain date? How long does the application process take?

Individuals interested in a year of service should visit our Admissions Timeline for application, interview, and entry details. Summer Camp applicants should apply by early April. All other applicants should complete an application at least one month prior to their desired start date.

My pastor does not know me very well. Whom else may I use as a reference?

We offer several suggestions for individuals to choose as references, but we value the input of anyone who can recommend you for service and speak to your suitability to serve in an organization that values Service, Community, and Spirituality. We prefer that you do not ask immediate family or boyfriends/girlfriends to serve as references, and we ask that only one reference be from a personal friend.

How likely is it that I will be accepted?

We have a thorough application and admissions process, which includes a national background check and, for most placements, input from three references. Submitting an application does not guarantee acceptance. Once the Volunteer Program and the appropriate program supervisor(s) review your application, our admissions coordinator will contact you to discuss your application and the program placement you are most interested in. Promising one-year applicants will be invited to interview with our staff in the Volunteer office as well as with several program supervisors. We feel that it is for your benefit so that you can make the right decision about your service. Following your interview, you and CAP will reflect upon your interview to ensure a mutual match.

Financial concerns

How can I afford to serve?

Volunteering for an extended period of time is a significant sacrifice for many people, but CAP is able to provide several resources to make service more affordable. We offer room and board (or living allowance for one-year volunteers) and travel reimbursement to all individual volunteers. One-Year volunteers are eligible for health insurance and a bi-weekly stipend of $125. AmeriCorps members are eligible for an Education Award and may be eligible for a living allowance. While volunteers are welcome to bring their personal vehicles, CAP provides transportation to and from service sites for volunteers who live in community. Contact us for a complete explanation of benefits by service opportunity.

Can I defer my student loans?

In most cases, yes. AmeriCorps members qualify for National Service Student Loan Forbearance for federal loans. Volunteers or members with private loans will need to request deferment forms from their lending agency and then turn them in to the Volunteer office for validation. Deferment is the choice of the provider, but most CAP volunteers are able to defer federal student loans. We also encourage prospective volunteers to explore income-driven repayment options, which may be a better option for some than deferment or forbearance.

Do you offer health insurance for volunteers and members?

One-Year CAP volunteers and AmeriCorps members are eligible for health benefits. Individuals who elect to keep existing insurance are eligible for reimbursement of their premium costs of up to a certain amount and are encouraged to keep existing insurance to provide a continuity of coverage after your service ends.

Will I be taxed on my stipend, room and board, etc.?

All cash and non-cash income volunteers and members receive is taxable and may be subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Please contact us for more information.

May I find a job in the area or attend school while serving full-time?

While not prohibited, finding a job or enrolling in classes during a full-time service commitment is discouraged because of the level of commitment required.

Life at CAP

What do you mean by "Community Living?"

CAP has six volunteer houses located throughout Eastern Kentucky. All houses have shared living room space, kitchen, and laundry facilities. Living in community means more than simply sharing living space: it is an intentional commitment to sharing time together. Volunteer communities share dinner and devotion four nights a week, and all volunteers are invited to participate.

What do you mean by "Local Living?"

Most CAP volunteers live in community at the volunteer houses, although some volunteers and members choose to find their own housing near their service site, or may already have a residence in the area. CAP offers a Local Living option for volunteers and AmeriCorps members who prefer to live on their own, have animals, or who are otherwise not well-suited for Community Living. This option includes a living allowance. Local Living volunteers and members are responsible for locating their own housing and must have transportation to their service sites. Volunteers choosing this option are invited to participate in dinner and devotion at a volunteer community at least once a month. Please contact us to learn more.

What are the volunteer houses like?

Generally speaking, volunteers will have their own rooms in our houses (although this is not guaranteed). There is a central kitchen, dining room, and living room. WiFi is available in the homes and they have televisions in the common living room. Meals and chores are coordinated between the volunteers.

What should I bring with me?

If traveling to Kentucky to serve, you can be assured that all volunteer houses and facilities are fully furnished, including bedding and towels. Though space is limited, individuals are encouraged to bring books, music, and other personal items. A complete list of items to bring will be sent to all volunteers upon acceptance into the program.

Does CAP foster a “simple” lifestyle?

We want volunteers to have what they need so that they can give their best to the mission every day. CAP also strives to practice good stewardship in the volunteer communities and in our programs, and encourages volunteers to be conscientious about their use of CAP resources, understanding that everything CAP provides to volunteers is funded by donor generosity. All volunteer communities are expected to follow a modest food budget based on community size.

I am a vegetarian, a vegan, gluten-intolerant, etc. Can CAP accommodate my dietary needs?

Yes! We do ask that volunteers who will be living in community consider that they may be living with people unfamiliar with their needs and how to cook for them. It is important for volunteers to take the time to communicate their needs to their housemates and offer recipes or to help with cooking. All volunteers need to be understanding and accommodating of fellow volunteers with special dietary needs.

What do volunteers do for fun?

In their free time, many volunteers go hiking, attend local concerts and festivals, and explore nearby towns. CAP is surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, which offer plenty of opportunities for camping and other outdoor activities. There are also two volunteer retreats and several social gatherings throughout the year. CAP’s volunteer communities are relatively close to one another, so houses often plan their own social activities together.

Life after CAP

What do volunteers do after serving with CAP?

Because CAP volunteers and members are diverse in terms of age and background, their paths after their term of service vary. Some go to grad school, some join or reenter the workforce, while others begin or continue their retirement. CAP alumni work in a wide variety of career fields, the most common being education, human services, and health science.

What kind of support does CAP offer to volunteer alumni?

The CAP Volunteer Alumni Network seeks to connect our more than 2,000 active former volunteers to CAP and to each other through a newsletter and networking groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Our Alumni page provides information about all of the services available to volunteer alumni.

More questions? Give us a call at 606-256-0973 or 800-755-5322 or click Contact Us. We’d love to hear from you.

Prayer Requests

Our faith calls us and sustains us— that's why Christian Appalachian Project gathers for chapel each day. If you or a loved one are in need of prayers, please let us know and we will lift up your request.


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