Well-equipped to provide tools and materials to summer centers, the Warehouse plays an important roll in the operations of Appalachia Service Project. With over 1,000 power tools, and even more materials and hand tools, Brick Smith and his team at the Warehouse supply approximately 14,000 volunteers with the tools they need for a productive summer every year. Since starting in 2012, Brick has worked hard to organize, stock, and improve the warehouse. To ensure that no products or tools go to waste, Brick has formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, another non-profit in the area. Brick donates any tools and products that ASP does not need or have use for to Habitat. Brick hopes to form partnerships with other companies in the future that will deliver supplies and materials straight to the summer centers themselves. These summer centers are vital to ASP’s mission of Warmer. Safer. Drier. and he believes that having supplies delivered directly to the centers and hubs will be insanely beneficial.
The Warehouse has come a long way from when Brick first began. When I first walked into the Warehouse, before load-up, I can honestly say I was astonished at the organization and complexity of the system that Brick had in place. The system for loading and unloading trucks and vans at the beginning and end of each summer has become more efficient and effective in the years Brick’s worked here. Tools have been upgraded, and the Warehouse is stocked with better materials than before.
The Warehouse even has its own online store, built specifically to cater to the summer centers. This store, called The Hub, provides all the building materials centers will need to work on their projects throughout the summer. Brick encourages all summer centers and staffs to utilize the Hub system, and the managers, the Hub Masters. He has worked hard to find the best deals on the best materials and we at the Warehouse thank the centers in advance for buying from the Hub. Sam Ronca, the Tennessee Hub Master, is really excited for this summer. As the son of board member James Ronca, Sam has volunteered at ASP for 8 years! This is his first year on staff and he is ““really enjoying it; it’s great driving around to all the counties [and] seeing all the volunteers that are really excited to help these families.” When I asked him why he keeps coming back, he said, “It feels right to help the people in the area.”
Brick loves visitors, so if you happen to be in the Johnson City area, stop by and check out the Warehouse to see what happens behind the scenes! If you are interested in volunteering for ASP or have an interest in helping the community but don’t want to or are unable to volunteer at a summer center, Brick welcomes volunteers in the Warehouse! There is always something to do, whether it be organizing, cleaning, prepping, or sorting. If that sounds more your speed then sign up with the Volunteer department; we’d love to have you! The Warehouse provides much of the support and backbone necessary for the summer centers thrive and it needs to be in top shape before the summer begins. The more volunteers we have during the off-season, the better equipped we can be to serve the community come summer! So, if you are interested, do not hesitate to sign up to volunteer in the Warehouse! Even if you can’t volunteer during the summer, you can still be involved in ASP’s mission and help serve the Appalachian community!
Lily Milioni worked with Appalachia Service Project during the summer of 2018. While primarily focusing on merchandise, she found time to engage with the full mission of ASP. She met with our staff, community members, and homeowners in Washington County, TN to learn their stories and build relationships throughout the summer. We hope enjoy some of her writing from her time with us!