Hello Mayor and Council,
On March 27th, King’s Ridge School is spear-heading a service project to fill a U-haul with food, clothing and other badly needed items to take to Rattle Snake Ridge, in southeastern Kentucky. Rattlesnake Ridge is home to Integrated Community Ministries http://www.ky-icm.org/home.html (ICM), a non-profit organization serving McCreary County, whose claim to fame is that is that it is one of the three poorest counties in Kentucky. Rattlesnake Ridge is a community within McCreary, home to those whose fathers and grandfathers worked the coal mines for script, lived on company own land and bought food from the company owned stores. The coal industry disappeared in the 1970’s…. leaving the people of McCreary County without jobs, without land, without money and without hope.
The problem with small, remote, communities like McCreary, which is the only county in Kentucky without an incorporated city, is that there are few if any social services. And because almost no one has much to give, there’s little in the way of local charity. The problems for the people on the Ridge are compounded by their isolationism. The western part of this county (where Rattlesnake Ridge is located) is uneffectionately known as No Man's Land. They are considered the poorest of the poor, physically separated from the rest of the county because they actually live on a mountain top, miles from, well everything. They are further removed due to their incredible poverty and inability to successfully interact within the schools and within the community. They are alone, and bitter in their uniqueness. Consequently, many kids drop out of school and return to the Ridge, running away from the daily ridicule and prejudice that confronts them in the “mainstream” county culture. What they return to is a life of immense need, drug addiction and generational poverty with no end in sight – and no hope.
I thought the timing may be perfect, to submit the following to you for consideration: Cities often adopt “sister” cities from other parts of the country or other parts of the world. Here we are, Milton, a shiny, brand spanking new city. Wouldn’t it be cool for one of the richest cities in the world to adopt one of the poorest…… It could change a lot of lives both in McCreary and in Milton.
There has been a local, grass roots effort going on for the past 7 years to help support ICM through a community outreach program right here in Milton and Alpharetta. The founders and drivers of the “Appalachian Christmas Project” are Eva Buckingham and Lisa Beharelle from White Columns. Here are Eva, Lisa and Lisa’s daughter Kelsey (center) pausing for a photo last November as Christmas gifts are loaded on to the FOUR (4) U-hauls headed for Kentucky. This is just one of several trips that take place every year up to Rattlesnake Ridge. It’s an amazing thing to see as dozens of neighbors from the community load the trucks on a Thursday night – and off they go…. The number of kids in McCreary County who now get to have a real Christmas has grown from 40 (6) years ago to now 344 this past December.
I urge you to please watch this video. Check it out first hand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heGZqTj9zZY This is all going on right here in our community!! Like I mentioned, King’s Ridge is loading up a truck in a couple of weeks and it would be awesome to have your support and send along some good news from our great city, Milton, GA. I greatly appreciate your considering this idea.
Bill and Tracy Schellhorn
225 Orchard Bend Trail
Alpharetta, GA 30004