Hello, it is great to meet you, we are Sam and Kortney, ASP’s Hiring Team. Our role is to hire summer staff and fellows for the organization. We have both been on staff before and both have volunteered for ASP before. In our time with ASP we have each encountered various volunteers, homeowners, staffers (those who have and have not volunteered for ASP), and communities that shaped our individual summer staff experiences.

This summer’s theme was perfect. Thanks to COVID-19 we got a first-hand understanding of what Complete, but not Finished means.  Each ASP summer is complete but just looks different for each of us.

This summer pushed us out of our comfort zones, as we left our office for the worksite. We learned how to build an 8×10 porch (and paint a red deck); installed tin roofs; built new homes; built a bathroom addition; installed siding; and much more. We learned where to find the best snow cones in Harlan County, that creating a materials list is hard, and how hot it is on a tin roof at 2 pm. This summer, relationships still happened; we laughed and joked while on site with friends and the 2019-2020 Fellows. We even learned a little sign language, thanks to a homeowner in Tennessee. ASP has completed 52 summers and all 52 of them look different to each staffer. While working as a summer staff of 18 people (made up of full-time staff and fellows) spread across 4 counties; Summer 2020 happened but it just looked different. In the same way that Summer 1969, 2013, 2015, 2019, etc. all happened but looked different.

I (Kortney) was on staff in Logan WV in 2014 and Magoffin in 2015. One summer staff memory, in particular, was meeting Jessie and Erving in 2015. I remember driving down the gravel road pulling up to the last home on the street. The application had been on file for two summers already and would be archived at the end of our summer. I remember meeting Jessie and Erving out on their red porch. Jesse was relaxing in her chair drinking a Dr. Pepper and smoking a cigarette, while Erving was sitting on a porch swing listening to the police scanner. As Jessie showed us around her home, she mentioned having other organizations come out and look, but never was able to get the help she needed. They had put so many applications in that they had forgotten about the one from ASP until we called to schedule a visit. As she was showing us around, she stepped on a weak area of the floor and her foot went right through. I knew at that moment that I was going to do whatever it took to help them. I remember thinking “How cool is it that I get to help make the decision and have some autonomy over who we serve!” Man was it a project! We had volunteers out there all 7 weeks and even double crewed some weeks. Every time I visited the project that summer and even just randomly on weekends I made sure to sit on the porch and hang out with Jessie and Erving. I would eat lunch, listen to the police scanner, and laugh endlessly as Jessie and Erving bickered back at one another. They were more than just a summer project, they were family. When I first walked onto that porch, I did not know how much this porch would mean to me still to this day. Sometimes life surprises you- so be fearless and go for what you want. You never know who you are going to meet along the way.

I (Sam) was on staff in Harlan KY- 2013, Magoffin KY-2014, McCreary KY-2016, and Lee VA in 2015-2016 as a fellow. What I have gotten from summer staff was community. One of the most important friendships I have made from staff is with my “fellow first year”, Katie. When I stepped onto “the porch” (Located in Lee County VA, this facility houses summer staff training and wrap-up. Many staffers refer to Jonesville affectionally as ‘the porch’ because of its large front porch) Katie was one of the first people I met. I was so nervous to start summer staff but Katie’s friendship was a massive piece to what helped me feel like I belonged on “the porch.” Katie and I ended up on staff together in Harlan. We visited worksites together, annoyed our Center Director, stayed up with each other at night while the other completed office work, and we cried together when the summer ended. Katie is one of many life-long friends that I have made through ASP summer staff. In 2016, I completed the fellowship where I lived on ‘the porch’ for a year. Throughout the fellowship, I had conversations with amazing volunteers who shook my view on life. I shared laughter and tears with my staff. As I looked into a crowd of 120 summer staffers during training and shared my experience living in Lee County, on ‘the porch,’ I had this realization there was more to ASP when the laughter and music of the summer ended. I shared to the audience my highs and lows, lessons, heartaches, and why ‘the porch’ was more than just a porch. Ever since my first summer volunteering, the relationships and lessons learned through ASP have been some of the most important and influential.

We (Sam and Kortney) were not on staff together. We didn’t even serve with ASP in the same state or years. So, when we were tasked to write about our ASP Summer Staff experience together and list out our compelling reasons why YOU SHOULD apply for summer staff and how it would radically change your life…we struggled to write it together. But then, after hours of talking back and forth, we noticed some striking similarities in our experiences.

The moment:

  • Our “final” ASP volunteer week came to an end.
  • We submitted our application and realized “Wow, I really want this job.”
  • We walked onto “the porch” in Jonesville VA nervous and scared for our first staff training with 119 other college students.
  • We heard the first song being played on “the porch.”
  • We sat on a porch in tears with a family we worked for 7 weeks and had to say good-bye when leaving our county.
  • We each met our forever, life-long friend in a fellow ASP staffer.
  • We returned home after the summer and immediately wished we could go back.

We realized our stories, like every ASP staffer, are the same (but with different characters and locations). You complete your summer of “being an ASP staffer.” You pack your bags, you say good-bye to families and friends, and you leave Appalachia. One last time. But, ASP staffers are still ASP staffers. You are not finished when you step off “the porch.” Staffers lead non-profits. Staffers are elementary, middle, and high school teachers; College sport coaches; ER Nurses. They are general contractors and graduate students. Staffers are on Capitol Hill and on Wall Street. They are Peace Corps volunteers and social workers, just to name a few. And they are ASP Hiring Managers.

We realized that our drive and mission…like every hiring manager before us (all the way back to ASP’s founder Tex Evans)…is the same. Tex saw potential in young adults. He trusted them. He challenged them. And when his time bringing young adults to ASP summer staff finished, he passed the task along to another person to onboard the next generation of folks who would radically and positively impact Appalachia and then the world. ASP summer staff exists for this purpose. For over 50 years, hiring managers have been bringing young people to work for ASP knowing that their lives were about to be changed forever.

Now it’s your turn. As the summer of 2020 comes to an end, ASP’s mission in Appalachia still remains. A whole new class of ASP Summer Staff will pack a bag, show up to ‘the porch,’ meet a lifelong friend, and share in memories. And then these new ASP staff will complete their summer, become an alumni, and radically impact our world.

Do you want to be one of them? Then Apply here today.

Sam Lansinger and Kortney Bodge, ASP Hiring Program Managers