MCC program in Appalachia changes name

MCC Appalachia Build

group of people sitting on roof

Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) home repair program in Appalachia will have a new name – MCC Appalachia Build – beginning April 2. This name replaces the former name, Sharing With Appalachian People (SWAP).

MCC has a long history in Appalachia working with homeowners and volunteer groups to make homes safe, warm and dry. Thousands of volunteers have come to Kentucky and West Virginia through the home repair program known as SWAP.

MCC Great Lakes, which oversees the program, decided to change the program’s name after hearing requests from local staff, the community and board members.

“MCC Appalachia Build was chosen as the new name to reflect the goals of our program, which are to build relationships between homeowners and volunteers, to build understanding of the people and place, and to build safe housing for those in need,” explains Kristin Overstreet, MCC Appalachia program director. 

three men kneeling and painting
Left to right, MCC Appalachia Build (formerly SWAP) job site coordinator Han Erb, along with volunteers Chandler Robey and Andrew Durrschmidt from Gettysburg Foursquare Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, apply water seal to the deck of a home near Leckie, West Virginia. (MCC Photo/Josh Stauffer)

The focus of MCC’s program in Appalachia remains the same. As a service and learning program, MCC Appalachia Build provides meaningful volunteer opportunities for schools, universities, churches, families, groups and individuals. It also provides much-needed services as a home repair program for low-income homeowners, many of whom are elderly, widowed or disabled.

The new name is meant to be simple, straightforward and easily identifiable both in the local communities and for groups looking for service opportunities.

“We want to honor and respect the history of our work in Appalachia and the many people who have served there,” says Overstreet. “But we feel it’s important to be open to change and to listen to the communities we serve.”

group of people standing in front of a house under construction
The team of MCC Appalachia Build (formerly SWAP) volunteers from Iglesia Enciende Una Luz (Ignite a Light Church) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, gather as they near the completion of their part of the home repair at a home near Northfork, West Virginia. They made structural repairs and installed new metal roofing. (MCC Photo/Peg Martin)

Relationships remain at the heart of MCC Appalachia Build. Groups spend time interacting with homeowners, learning about Appalachian culture and participating in faith-building activities.

MCC Appalachia Build sites are currently located in Kimball, West Virginia, and in Elkhorn City, Kentucky. In addition, one MCC staff person in Kimball works on the Dr. Henry Dodford Dismukes Project, preserving the history of one of the largest privately owned African American hospitals operating in the late 1920s to early 1930s.

group of people standing and smiling at camera
MCC Appalachia Build (formerly SWAP) staff model t-shirts with the new program logo. On April 2, 2024, MCC's home repair program in Appalachia was renamed as MCC Appalachia Build. This name replaces the former name, Sharing With Appalachian People (SWAP). (MCC Photo)

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