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!



We are pleased to present you with Big Creek People in Action’s 2018 Annual Report.  We have 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.  Within these pages, you will learn about our programs and accomplishments during 2018. 

During 2018, BCPIA served 4,048 people in order to educate as well as provide basic needed services.  A total of 11,865 meals were served out of the Center and we coordinated 18,150 hours of service by 629 volunteers from inside and outside the area.

NEW FOR 2018

            Through a grant from Broadway Cares – Equity Fights Aids, we received a grant to start a new program.  We deliver hot meals and food boxes to those in the community that are suffering from debilitating illnesses.   With poverty, hunger, and health being so deeply connected, addressing hunger issues is a significant step to improving outcomes for people at risk in our area who are suffering the devastating effects of disease and ongoing food insecurity.

            We also were able to purchase two additional vehicles for our programs in 2018.  We were able to purchase another van to help transport afterschool students and a box truck to be used with the Housing Rehabilitation Program.

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 two staff members provided by the Senior Community Service Employment Program 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. The staff has participated in various trainings and workshops throughout the year to improve their skills.


            BCPIA’s Board of Directors currently has seven Board Members, with two additional youth members to soon be added.  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.


                As a West Virginia Family Resource Center, we have an Advisory Council, which 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; 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, and the county Head Start centers, who allow us to work with their students; Americans Helping Americans, who send us new coats, blankets, shoes, diapers, and food to distribute;  the Council of Southern Mountains, who work with us on disaster relief services;  Mountaineer Food Bank, who works with us on hunger reduction;. WV Public Broadcasting, who works with us on the summer camps; Catholic Community Charities, who help people get assistance with their electric bill; as well as a partnership with the United Way of Southern West Virginia.  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 by distributing information at their events as well as providing 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 AmeriCorps, two staff members provided by  the Senior Community Service Employment Program, volunteer staff through the Department of Health and Human Resources welfare-to-work program, housing rehab 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.


  •             Americans Helping Americans
  •             Anthem Foundation
  •             Appalachian Power
  •             Bernard McDonough Foundation
  •             Broadway Cares
  •             Credit Bureau of the Virginias
  •             Dominion Energy Foundation
  •             George M. Cruise Foundation
  •             Jeanne & Lawson Hamilton Foundation
  •             Katharine Tierney Foundation
  •             Max & Victoria Dreyfus Foundation
  •             McDowell County Board of Education
  •             Skewes Family Foundation
  •             United Way of Southern WV
  •             Walmart/Sam’s Club
  •             WV Dept. of Health & Human Resources
  •             WV Division of Culture & History
  •             College & Church Groups
  •             Local Coal Mines & Businesses  


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 the highest illiteracy rate 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 which has 31 kids.  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 through nutrition 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 and one tutor who works at Southside K-8 to tutor students in reading.

Students being tutored are tested periodically to determine the effectiveness of the program.

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 parenting classes, we educate parents on a variety of topics so they can make wise choices that are in the best interests of their children.


LifeBridge AmeriCorps members are placed at our Center to work on educational programs.  Our members worked on the following projects in 2018:

  • Tutoring at the McDowell Career and Technology Center and Southside K-8
  • Working with the Afterschool Program
  • Sponsoring Read Alouds and literacy activities at Southside & Head Starts
  • Working with WV Public Broadcasting on the Super Why camps to teach young children to read and Odd Squad math camps to teach math concepts to students throughout the county
  • Distributed Book Bags & School Supplies at Southside K-8
  • Dr. Seuss Birthday Read Aloud event
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. event
  • Library Community Service project
  • Cleaned up around Berwind Lake
  • 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 2018, BCPIA served 116 individuals with housing repairs including installing & repairing roofs, painting, handicap ramps, vinyl siding, windows, insulation, plumbing, flooring, bathroom repairs, porch repairs, and others.  College and church volunteer groups included:

  • 2nd Baptist Church, Richmond, VA
  • Adrian College
  • Berwick Academy, Maine
  • Centre College
  • First Unitarian Youth Ministries, NY
  • Red Bank Baptist Church, SC
  • River Road Unitarian Universalist
  • Sidwell Friends, Washington DC
  • Smyrna Baptist Church – SC
  • South Lexington Baptist Church, SC
  • SS Peter & Paul, New York
  • Unitarian Universalist of Columbia, MD
  • University of Notre Dame (2 trips)
  • University of Richmond
  • Upshur Helping Hands, WV


Service Learning is a method of teaching through which students apply their academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in their communities to develop 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 people in the community prepare their resumes and secure job opportunities.

The Department of Health and Human Resources places people here under the WV Works welfare work experience program. These people learn how to be responsible, be on time, follow directions, work with other staff, and gain valuable work experience.

Our staff worked with people in the Computer Lab to help them complete on-line classes 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 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. 


Our Healthy 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.  We also sponsored Bonnie’s Bus again this year which provides free mammograms to women in the area.

Other events in the county that we participated in to give out health and organizational information were:

Strengthening Families Workshop 

Tug River Spring Fling

Welch Hospital Resource Fair

Childhood Fair at the Welch Armory

Flu Clinic



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 2018 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.  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 fourteen 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 Festival/ Big Creek High School Alumni EventWe decided to combine our Mountain Music Festival and Big Creek High School Alumni Event this year so that everyone could enjoy live music on our outdoor stage.  In addition to the live music outside, we had a video set up in the gym of Big Creek High School photos from yearbooks and served free food to everybody.  Many high school alumni attended and enjoyed sharing an evening with their childhood friends.  We were able to showcase local talent and give the community a day of family-style entertainment. 

Kickoff to Summer  Because we did not have carnival games and other events for kids at the music festival this year, we sponsored a separate day for kids where we provided free inflatable blow-up games, food, free games and crafts, and a gift bag for the kid’s enjoyment.

Bonnie’s Bus – Eight women were able to get free mammograms through Bonnie’s Bus, which was set up at our Center in October.

Super Why Camp - We co-sponsored with West Virginia Public Broadcasting very successful summer literacy camps throughout 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 – For the second year, BCPIA co-sponsored with West Virginia Public Broadcasting summer math camps for students to learn math concepts in a fun way.  Based on the “Odd Squad” television series, kids act as special agents to solve a mystery using their math skills.  The camp was expanded to three sites in the county.

Haunted House – For the first time in several years, we had a Haunted House this year with 192 attending.  We don’t have them every year because of the time involved in setting it up.   Several rooms on the bottom floor and the gym are decorated with coffins, ghosts, fog machines, black lights, and lots of scary creatures.  Workers dress up as zombies, clowns, and creepy characters to scare people.  It was a great success.

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, Southern Highland’s clients, and senior citizens who attended our annual Christmas Parties.  We had three parties this year, serving 673 people.  Participants received gifts, treat bags from Santa, gifts for Mom and Dad, food boxes, and a hot Christmas meal. 

            BCPIA sponsored or participated in other special events or projects during 2018:

  • Coats, blankets, diapers, food, hygiene kits, bookbag, and shoe Giveaways
  • Two Bible schools sponsored by the South Carolina churches and 2nd Baptist Church from Richmond
  • Career Fair at the Welch Armory
  • War Fall Festival
  • County Drug Free Day at Mount View High School
  • Southside Summer Bash
  • Southside K-8 Back to School Social
  • Early Childhood Fair at the Armory
  • Tug River Spring Fling
  • Dance Performances for Afterschool
  • Strengthening Family Workshop
  • Welch Hospital Resource Fair
  • Flu Clinic



     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