Hello! This is Isaac, the one who has been writing these entries in The Porch Rocker Almanac blog series. This week we have a guest writer, and I just want to introduce her to you all. Her name is Brittany Secraw, and she is one of the Story Gathering Interns. Over the past few weeks, it has been fantastic to get to know and learn from each other. I hope you enjoy her blog; I sure did!
Hi, y’all! Brittany here. Thanks for letting me guest write this week. I am fresh off another amazing week of chatting, snapping, and capturing all the stories of Appalachia. While I cannot wait to share all of that with you this week, I wanted to tell a story of my own. It is the story of my church, my ASP experience, and the two men who started it all for us.
This week I had the honor of serving alongside my home church, who has known me since infancy, in the lovely Floyd County. I followed them around, stuck a camera in their faces, asked them personal questions, and they were cooperative through it all. Christ United Methodist Church (CUMC) in High Point, NC, was where I learned about God for the first time and where I got my ASP beginning. When we had to merge due to financial strains, First United Methodist Church (FUMC) down the road was ready to take us in. Through all of that, we kept going back to ASP. Losing our building did not make us lose our heart for service, and 31 years later, we are still going strong.
I did not want to go on ASP the summer before my first year of high school. I was a ball of anxiety, stress, and braces. Not to mention that I barely knew the other people in my youth group and had never picked up a hammer in my life. The credit goes to Craig Kivett for not giving up on me. Every time I exchanged glances with him, he began telling me a 2-hour story about being up on a roof or doing electrical work, or talking to homeowners. Craig lit up like nothing else when he talked about ASP, so much so that I had to see what he meant.
To say Craig lives and breathes ASP is an understatement. When I told him “Happy Birthday,” his only response was that he was headed to his “happy place” in two days— a.k.a. going on the ASP summer trip. He has counted the days he has served, and it adds up to “3/4 of a year away from (his) lovely wife”. Between youth trips, adult trips, and extra weeks being a helping hand, he is the person to talk about ASP with. His passion for ASP is contagious, and it is always phenomenal to work with him. He has brought ASP to a lot more people than me. He is man number 1.
Man number 2 is Doug Lain. I did not have the honor of working on his crew last year, but we spent every meal together. He was a kind and caring man with a heart of service I hope to have when I am his age. Doug had been on over 50 ASP trips; he spread a lot of love and fixed a lot of homes. He and I were Dairy Queen friends that year — we spent more nights than I care to admit chatting and making memories in those plastic booths. His claim to ASP fame was that with all those trips to ASP, he knew the closest Dairy Queen to the center by heart. I understood because, personally, you cannot beat a DQ Cookie Dough Blizzard.
Sadly, Doug passed away in his home on Sunday, May 21st. It was a month before he was planning to come on this very ASP trip, the one that I am sitting here writing this blog on. “He would have been here,” Amy, one of the group leaders, said to me as she patted the empty seat next to her. “He would have been here” is a soul-crushing phrase. It says so much in so little. To me, Doug is still here. His heart for ASP will never die. He is here with us in the holes we are digging, the nails we are hitting, and the Dairy Queen Blizzards we are getting one size too big but eat anyway. He will be remembered in this blog, in the memories we share, and in the photos of him on ASP trips. Even in his passing, Doug continued to root for ASP. His memorial funds were directed towards his home church and ASP. His love ran that deep.
I would not be here without him. Doug Lain from FUMC is the reason CUMC went in the first place. If CUMC never went, I would never have volunteered in the first place and, therefore, never applied for this internship. It is funny and poetic how life works that eventually, these two churches merged into one family and one heart for ASP. Appalachia Service Project is more than anyone thinks it is. It is a family, a hope, and gosh darn good housework for people who need it.
Craig and Doug changed my life. ASP changed my life and continues to every year I serve. I keep learning, and I keep growing, and I genuinely would not be who I am today without ASP and my ASP family. Thank you.
And let us all have a DQ Blizzard and raise it “To Doug.”
Story Gathering Intern