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The Appalachia Help Weeks program began in 1986 as a flood relief effort.  St. Patrick parish in Chatham, NJ partnered with the Cathoic Church of Preston County in WV as a means to help those whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by a 500 year flood of the Cheat River.  Over the next 38 years, this partnership shifted from flood relief to basic poverty relief and grew into one of the largest Appalachia home repair programs in the country.  Several parishes throughout NJ, PA and MD now partner with the Catholic Church of Preston County in serving those whose lives and homes are effected by rural poverty. 


Fred Mercadante, the President and Founder of Certan Place Ministries and facilitator of the The Appalachia Help Weeks began volunteering for this annual outreach in 1987 when he was 16 years old and returned every year with St. Patrick's, eventually becomig the coordinator of the program.  With 28 years experience of coordinating and facilitating this service opportunity for over 100 youth and adult volunteers each summer, Certain Place Ministries is offering this program to parish youth & young adult ministries, Catholic campus ministries, and to diocesan young adult ministries.

With an emphasis on the Gospel, Catholic Social Teaching and relational ministry, the Appalachia Help Weeks experience fosters the faith development of all who participate and provides an opportunity for the community to be the Body of Christ for others.


We who volunteer through the Appalachia Help Weeks program recognize our goals to:


  • Support the area of Preston County physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.


  • Let the families who are served know that Catholics are people of Christ who care about others and want to help those in need.


  • Help eliminate the isolation of the deprived poor by “helping others help themselves.”


  • Help (to the best of our ability) make the assigned homes designated for repair as safe and as livable as possible.


  • Foster a deeper awareness of the Gospel in action and of Catholic Social Teaching among our volunteers.

Expected Outcomes:

As a result of the Appalachia Help Weeks, we the participants:


  1. See and gain an understanding of the helplessness of poverty and isolation, and realize that we have the power and the duty to do something about it.

  2. Give hope to those who might not have had any before.

  3. Meet and make new friends with the families that we work with and for.

  4. Form friendships and a community of faith among the volunteers who participate in the help week.

  5. Offer the gift of ourselves by praying and worshiping together.

  6. Hopefully provide each family with that little bit of help that they need to get back on their feet.

  7. Learn and experience the benefits of communal living.

  8. Empower and encourage each other to share the Good News of Christ.

  9. Develop an attitude of solidarity that views all as brothers and sisters no matter where or how they live.


The following is the Introductory Video for all potential volunteers and information seekers:


  1. To attend Appalachia Meetings.

  2. To help in the planning and running of fundraisers.

  3. To be willing to work together in a friendly and cooperative manner.

  4. To respect those who are in the position of leadership.

  5. To engage fully in the week's agenda.

  6. To be open to the Spirit and allow oneself to be led.

  7. To put the community first and personal desires second.

Addendum to above video:

The upstairs sleeping area of the VFW is now equipped with bunkbeds for the teens.  Adults still bring their own air mattresses.


© 2023 Certain Place Ministries

"Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

― Teresa of Avila


A 501(c) 3 Nonprofit Corporation

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