Be the change you wish to see!!!

Big Creek People In Action, Inc. was founded in 1990 by citizens of McDowell County, West Virginia. Since that time, this nonprofit organization has been serving the community of McDowell County in the realms of education and literacy, leadership development, volunteer service, service learning, arts and culture, housing, recreation, and collaborative partnerships. BCPIA's vision of McDowell County is one of empowered and self-sufficient people living in communities that are economically vibrant, democratic, and socially just. To learn more about the history of Big Creek People in Action, please Click Here!



Big Creek People in Action, Inc. continued to be a resource for the community by

providing access to resources and networks that encourage self-sufficiency in families and offer opportunities for our citizens to work together to create a sustainable, successful community.  We had many accomplishments and successes in 2016. 

During 2016, BCPIA served 4,720 people in order to educate as well as provide basic needed services.  A total of 13,070 meals were served out of the Center and we coordinated 25,147 hours of service by 712 volunteers from inside and outside the area.

NEW FOR 2016

        We are proud that a new building addition was constructed this year to house a new Dining Hall for our work groups and desperately needed new restrooms for the facility.   Sometimes we have two work groups, afterschool, and other programs having to cook and feed  people at the same time, so this will provide additional space for people to eat.  It is our goal for the future to find the funding to put a kitchen for our work groups in this space, which will make the space ever even more beneficial.

            A new math camp, “Odd Squad”, was held this year in collaboration with West Virginia Public Broadcasting.   Kids act as special agents to solve a problem while playfully exploring math concepts  including addition, counting to 100, measuring with a ruler, manipulating 2-dimensional shapes, and dividing amounts into equal portions.

            Our tutors at the McDowell County Career &Technology Center worked for the first time with a student to teach her the English language.  She moved here from Yemen and spoke Arabic.  She is communicating much better and has made great progress.

            The Aetna Foundation established a pilot program at BCPIA in 2016 where our Healthy Lifestyles Coordinator works with members of the Coventry Cares of WV

program who have diabetes or asthma to encourage them to go for the doctor’s visits and to take care of themselves.  Four asthma workshops and four diabetes workshops were held at the Center.  The Aetna Foundation reported that the education and outreach program has led to better health outcomes for their clients including less emergency room visits.

            For the first time this year, Bonnie’s Bus set up at our Senior Health Fair to do free mammograms and several area women took advantage of the free test.

MISSION AND PURPOSE                                                   

Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA) was formed in 1990 by local citizens working to bring about a brighter future in McDowell County, WV.  Our mission is to “foster a community in which people learn, work, play, and grow together to prepare themselves for success.”  Our vision of McDowell County is one of empowered and self-sufficient families living in communities that are democratic, socially just, and economically vibrant.   BCPIA believes that:

  • The strength of our area rests in its citizens
  • Young people should be active citizens in the places they live
  • Everyone can help build the communities in which they live
  • The best way to help people is to help them help themselves
  • The people best able to address a problem are those most directly affected by it
  • Education is fundamental in helping people reach their full potential

To accomplish our vision, BCPIA works with families and communities to link sustainable community development and economic opportunity with a broad vision for change.


            BCPIA has seven full-time staff members, four AmeriCorps members, and an Experience Works program staff member to carry out the day-to-day work at the Center.  In addition, we have volunteer staff through the Department of Health and Human Resources WV Works Program and the Youth Connection program.  The staff has participated in various trainings and workshops throughout the year to improve their skills.


            BCPIA’s Board of Directors currently has nine Board Members.  The Board’s purpose is to develop policies, procedures, and regulations for the operation of the organization, to monitor finances, programs and performance, and to maintain and update a long-range plan.  The Board meets quarterly to approve reports, set policies, evaluate programs, and ensure that the organization is accomplishing its goals.


                We have an Advisory Council, which is part of the requirements of being funded by the WV Department of Health and Human Resources as a Family Resource Center in West Virginia.  Our council consists of program participants, business leaders, and representatives from other organizations.   They meet once a quarter to evaluate the Family Resource Center programs and services.   


            BCPIA partners with many organizations to offer needed services in the community.  Our organizational partners include LifeBridge AmeriCorps, who sponsor our AmeriCorps program; the local Department of Health and Human Resources, who provide volunteer staff through the WV Works Program; Youth Connections, who placed youth to work here under an employment program; the WV Department of Health and Human Resources, who support our Family Resource Center; the McDowell County Board of Education, Southside K – 8, the McDowell County Career & Technology Center, the McDowell County Adult Basic Education Center, and the county Head Start centers, who allow us to work with their students; West Virginia Public Broadcasting, who work with us on education including the Super Why Literacy Camps and Odd Squad Math Camp; Americans Helping Americans, who send us new coats, blankets, shoes, diapers, and food to distribute;  the Council of Southern Mountains and Mountaineer Food Bank, who work with us on hunger reduction; and the American Red Cross who works with our AmeriCorps program to distribute and install smoke alarms in people’s homes. We are also a new partner with the United Way of Southern West Virginia and we partner with Catholic Community Charities to get people assistance with their electric bill.

            We provide meeting space for the Southern Highlands mental health patients and their workers, for local coal mine classes, and other organizations.   We also collaborate with other organizations in the county through referrals for services that we do not provide.


            BCPIA continues to write grants to foundations and government sources, seek donations, sponsor various fundraising events, and host college and church volunteer groups to help secure the funding needed to support our programs and services.  We have several sources of in-kind income including AmeriCorps staff, who are provided by LifeBridge, Receptionist provided by Experience Works, volunteer staff through the Department of Health and Human Resources welfare-to-work program, staff through the Youth Connections program, work contributed by the college and church groups, and several thousand dollars of in-kind contributions of diapers, blankets, toys, food, household supplies, shoes, coats, etc. that we distribute to the community.


Aetna Foundation

Americans Helping Americans

Anthem Foundation

Appalachian Power

Bernard McDonough Foundation

Bike & Build

Community Works in WV

Credit Bureau of Virginias

Dominion Foundation

Enterprise Holdings

George Cruise Foundation

Home Depot Foundation

Jeanne & Lawson Hamilton Foundation

Katharine Tierney Foundation

McDowell County Board of Education

National Coal Heritage

Skewes Family Foundation

USDA Rural Development

Walmart Foundation

Wells Fargo

WV Dept. of Health & Human Resources

WV Division of Culture & History

College & Church Groups


The following statistics shows the challenges we are facing.  According to the 2010 Census, Reconnecting McDowell, and WV Kids Count, McDowell County’s median family income is less than half the national one, 40% of the population lacks a high school education, 18.9% of kids drop out of school, only 5.7% of the people are college graduates, 46% of students do not live with their biological parents, 72% of students live in a household without gainful employment, and we have an illiteracy rate of 37%, which is the highest in the state. These alarming statistics show that we have much work to do to provide adequate services that will help children further their education and become successful as adults. 

Afterschool - One of our most rewarding programs is our year-round afterschool program with 50 different students attending this year.    There are three teachers that work with the students each day and parents have reported improvements in their children’s grades.  The program offers a full, nutritional meal, homework support, computer time, help with school projects, exercise, and transportation.  Good health habits are taught such as brushing their teeth, nutrition education, and oral health education.  They also get to participate in special projects such as Science Fun and go on field trips in the summer.    Kids have the opportunity to form close bonds with other children in order to have more positive relationships with their peers. 

 During the summer and school breaks, the students were again involved in a special project called T.R.A.V.E.L., which stands for Traditions, Research, Arts, Voices, Education, and Learning.   They learned about different cultures, food, art, and traditions and were assigned a new country every two weeks to research and study. 

In-School Tutoring - We have two Reading Coaches that work 4 days per week at the McDowell County Career & Technology Center to improve Reading and Math skills, one tutor who works at Southside K-8 to tutor students in reading, and a tutor that works one day a week at the Adult Basic Education Center in Welch to assist adults with their GED.

Our tutors at the McDowell County Career & Technology Center (Vocational School) worked with a girl from Yemen this year to teach her the English language.  They also work with students in the school to assist them with the ACT Work Keys Training which they have to pass in order to get their vocational certification. 

Parenting Education - Positive parenting leads to a happier, healthier child living in a loving and nourishing environment.  Children who grow up in a home with positive parenting learn better in school, have better behavior, and are well-rounded children. With our workshops, we educate parents on a variety of topics so they can make good choices for their child.

PlayPals, Big Creek People in Action is continuing the PlayPals program where families participate in activities with their infants from birth to three to explore sensory experiences, motor skills, and language skills.   It also gives parents the opportunity to share parenting tips and learn new skills and activities to aid in their child’s development.


LifeBridge AmeriCorps members are placed at our Center to work on educational programs.  Our members worked on the following projects in 2016:

  • Tutoring at the McDowell Career and Technology Center, Southside K-8, and the Adult Basic Education Center
  • Working with the Afterschool Program
  • Sponsoring Read Alouds and literacy activities at Southside & Head Starts
  • Working with WV Public Broadcasting on the 4-week Super Why camp to teach young children to read and Odd Squad math camp to teach math concepts
  • 9/11 Memorial Appreciation Dinner for First Responders
  • Distributed and installed Smoke Alarms
  • Distributed Book Bags & School Supplies at Southside K-8
  • Dr. Seuss Birthday Read Aloud event
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. event
  • Cleaned up park at War and put down mulch
  • Participated in the Halloween event at Southside K-8
  • Christmas Party for Head Start


McDowell County reports the lowest standard of housing in the state, with age being the primary factor affecting the quality of housing.  Our Housing Rehabilitation Program was established because many families in our area live in dilapidated, unsafe homes and don’t have the resources to make the needed repairs.  The mission of our Housing Rehabilitation Program is to efficiently enhance the quality of life of our low-income, disabled, and senior citizens through fixing their homes to correct health and safety issues, improve accessibility, and provide a suitable living environment so that they are warm, safe, and dry. 

In 2016, BCPIA served 204 individuals with housing repairs including installing & repairing roofs, painting, handicap ramps, vinyl siding, windows, insulation, plumbing, flooring, bathroom repairs, porch repairs, and others.  Volunteer groups included:

University of Richmond

University of Notre Dame (2 trips)

Emory & Henry College

Centre College (2 trips)

Rider University

Mars Hill University (2 trips)

Winchester Unitarian Society - MA

Sidwell Friends - Washington DC

Upshur Helping Hands - WV

SS Peter & Paul Church – NY

The Burke School – Washington, DC

South Church - NH

Unitarian Universalist River Road - MD

South Lexington, Convent,  Red Bank, &  Mt. Hebron Baptist Churches from SC

Christ United Methodist Church - PA

Second Baptist Church - VA

Berwick Academy - ME

Stone Valley Parish – PA


Service Learning is a method of teaching through which students apply their academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in their communities develops an ethic of service and civic responsibility.

            Students have a variety of service opportunities here from which to choose a meaningful placement.  Included are alternative college breaks, community service weekends, summer placements and internships, and special events.


Many of Big Creek People in Action’s programs and services involve job training and preparation.   This is an important service we provide to help people better themselves and prepare for a brighter future.  When people are placed here to work, they learn workplace ethics and behavior, responsibility, and effective communication skills that they will need when securing permanent employment.  We also help many other people in the community prepare their resumes and secure job opportunities.

The Department of Health and Human Resources places people here under the welfare work experience program,   youth are placed here to work under the Youth Connections program, and summer interns can work here during the summer while they are in college to fulfill the requirements for their scholarships.   These people learn how to be responsible, be on time, follow directions, work with other staff, and gain valuable work experience.

Our staff worked every week with an employee from the McDowell County Commission on Aging to help her complete on-line classes required by her job as well as basic computer skills.

We have two tutors that work at the McDowell County Career and Technology Center providing tutoring services to the students in all eleven of the Career and Technical Education course offerings.   Big Creek People in Action tutors work diligently with students to ensure that each graduate is not only equipped with academic and career tech skills, but also with professional skills related to entrepreneurship and employment.


Our computer lab offered access to the internet and many specialized programs and learning activities to enable people to enhance their quality of life through access to information technologies.  Self-paced courses are offered to people of all age groups and skill levels.  They can take classes to advance their skills on beginning and advanced computer classes, life skills, job skills, G.E.D., driving tests, resume writing, financial information, and a variety of other courses. 


Big Creek People in Action provided support to area veterans in 2016 by assisting them in getting their VA benefits and helping some of them with transportation to their doctor’s appointments.  Veterans were invited to our Christmas Party and other events at the Center.


Our Health Lifestyles Coordinator worked much of the year with the Aetna Foundation on a pilot program to contact people with the WV Coventry Cares Program who have diabetes and asthma to encourage them to go their regular doctor’s visits and to take care of themselves.  Four workshops were held to educate people who have asthma and four workshops were held to education people who have diabetes. 

Our Health Lifestyles program sponsors two large events at the Center and also sets up at other county events to give out health and parenting information.  The Moms and Babes Fair is for new and expecting mothers.  They attend educational workshops, get information from county providers, and get free items to support the health and safety of their infants and toddlers. 

The Senior Health Fair offers health information and screenings such as blood pressure checks, free health items, and flu shots from a variety of area organizations. Seniors attending the event were able to get flu shots, blood pressure checks, free health items, and much more.  We had Bonnie’s Bus for the first time to offer area women free mammograms. 


            BCPIA hosts many special events throughout the year that support education, family events, entertainment, and holiday observances.  These events give families a chance to spend quality time together in a wholesome atmosphere.  Events during 2015 included the following:

            Spring CarnivalAfter a long, hard, winter, people are ready to come out and have some fun in a family environment.  Emory and Henry College students helped to financially support the Carnival and run the games.  Fun games, good food, and great prizes were enjoyed by all.

            Moms and Babes Fair - This year’s baby fair packed a lot of information for expectant mothers and mothers with children up to age three. Several organizations gave out valuable information about programs and the moms attending also sat through workshops about prenatal and infant care. For the past thirteen years, Big Creek People in Action has held a community baby shower that is both informative and fun.  Moms get a lot of goodies such as diapers, wipes, lotions, baby bath products, smoke detectors, baby clothing, car seats, and much more.

            Mountain Music FestivalShowcasing local talent and giving the community a day of family-style entertainment is what this festival is all about.  At the 2016 festival, we provided blow-up games for the kid’s enjoyment, free carnival games, and children’s craft tables.  We sold great home-cooked foods and gave out gift bags with useful items as well as information on Parenting and Health.  Great fun for everyone and admission was free.

            Senior Health Fair - The fourth annual Senior Health Fair was a successful event filled with health information from a variety of McDowell County organizations. Seniors attending the event were able to get free mammograms through Bonnie’s Bus, flu shots, blood pressure readings, and much more.  They were treated to a hot, healthy lunch. Afterward, they got to play bingo for some nice prizes, which they really enjoyed.

            Diversity Day -    Students from the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at Southside K-8 were bussed to our Center to look at the many projects and artifacts from other cultures we have on display.  They ate foods from many cultures around the worlds, watched a video presentation, and received a gift bag.  We received some great feedback from the students that attended the event this year.

Super Why Camp - BCPIA co-sponsored with West Virginia Public Broadcasting, a very successful 4 week summer literacy camp with each week held at a different community in the county.  Super Why was created to help children ages 3-6 learn to read through interactive story adventures. SUPER WHY features a team of literacy-powered super heroes: Alpha Pig (with Alphabet Power), Wonder Red (with Word Power), Princess Presto (with Spelling Power), and Super Why (with the Power to Read).

Odd Squad Math Camp – BCPIA co-sponsored with West Virginia Broadcasting for the first time a one week math camp for students to learn math concepts in a fun way.  Based on the PBS “Odd Squad” television series, kids act as special agents to solve a mystery using their math skills.

9/11 Memorial Event for First Responders -  Our AmeriCorps members invited members of the local rescue squads and fire and police departments for an appreciation dinner at the Center in memory of 9/11.

Fire Safety Day -  Area children and adults were invited to the Center to learn about fire safety.  A smoke house was set up so that groups of children can go through it with a guide and learn what to do in a house fire.  They also go to explore fire trucks, hold the fire hose, eat, and listen to music. 

            Community Christmas ActivitiesWith a lot of help from churches from South Carolina, Second Baptist Church from Richmond, and a lot of generous people, Christmas was made a little brighter for many children, families, veterans, Southern Highland’s clients, and senior citizens  who attended our annual Christmas Parties.  We had four parties this year, serving 569 people.  Participants received gifts, treat bags from Santa, gifts for Mom and Dad, food boxes, and a hot Christmas meal. 

            Big Creek High School Alumni DanceWe were proud to host the 7th Annual Big Creek Alumni Dance in August for all people who graduated from Big Creek High School.  Everyone enjoyed great food, a video presentation from yearbook photos, music, dancing, and a great night out with old friends.

BCPIA sponsored or participated in other special events or projects during 2016:

  • Coats, blankets, diapers, food, hygiene kits, paint, and shoe Giveaways
  • Bible schools sponsored by South Carolina churches & Richmond Baptist Church
  • War Fall Festival
  • County Drug Free Day at the Armory
  • Early Childhood Fair at the Armory
  • Tug River Spring Fling
  • Information Fair at Work Force office
  • Community Empowerment Expo at the Armory


            We are proud of our accomplishments this year but realize that there is still more work to be done.  We would not be able to continue to offer our services without the generous support of many organizations and people who believe in our cause to create fundamental change in the area.  Together, we are making a difference, one family at a time.



Contact Information:                  

Big Creek People in Action, Inc.                           

HC 32 Box 541

War, WV 24892

Ph. (304) 875-3418

Fax: (304) 875-3518

Email: bcpia3418@netscape.net