We can’t imagine a better solution than Red Bird Mission.
Red Bird Mission is located near the tiny post office of Beverly, KY. Founded with just a school in 1921, today it has grown to a full-service mission of the United Methodist Church, the only one of its kind in the U.S. It serves approximately 14,000 people each year.
We met with Director of Community Outreach Tracy Nolan (left), Development Manager Tonya Asher, Family Ministries Outreach Manager Stacia Carwell, and Garden Project Coordinator Nancy Seaberg.
Red Bird Mission programs and services cover all the areas you might think would be important to this community:
- Education through the Red Bird Mission School for 160 students in grades K-12.
- Health and Wellness including medical and dental clinics, a pharmacy, home care, and health education programs.
- Economic Opportunity through a craft store for local artisans and the Community Store, which offers high-quality used clothing.
- Work Camp for improvements to homes in the area. Each year, about 3000 volunteers (up to 120/week) repair over 200 homes and help improve living conditions for residents of the Red Bird area.
|Two volunteers filling Christmas boxes |
with all new, donated toys, books,
clothing, linens, and personal care items
for about 500 children who otherwise
would have little or nothing at Christmas.
One thing that enables outreach services to reach more people is that many of the programs are not unique or invented by Red Bird Mission. Rather, Community Outreach seems masterful in partnering with helpful existing programs, tailoring them to meet local needs, and making them available at the mission through grants, providing the space, or just setting up the meetings. The Mission is the catalyst. Examples of programs in this category include USDA Commodities, GED adult education, Heifer International, and Family-to-Family.
Overall, our experiences at Red Bird Mission left us awed and inspired by the important work and Christian service we saw everywhere.
Mission staff members hold deep respect for the local culture. Many grew up here, graduated from Red Bird Mission School, and are currently raising families here. We heard over and over about strengths such as these: People here are very family oriented; they own their land; relatives and several generations are likely to reside near each other. People here take care of their own; even though there’s a very high homeless rate, you don’t see it because multiple generations and multiple families may live in one house. People here are very proud and resilient; they have a history of hunting, gardening, and canning, so they can survive tough circumstances.
Red Bird Mission also inspires dedicated volunteers. We met several folks who were living in the volunteer quarters with us or who were participating in the work camp while we were there. Person after person told us they had been coming for a week or more every year for 10 or 20 years or more. We met a volunteer who was currently serving as an aide at Red Bird Mission School for the entire year. We met another family who came for a year and are still there 38 years later.
Who knows, maybe we’ll meet you there one day, too.