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 2015. 

            We were incorporated on December 11, 1990, so on December 11, 2015 we celebrated 25 years of service to the people of McDowell County.  Due to the holidays and inclement weather, our reception was held in January.  Many supporters of Big Creek People in Action attended the event which featured a video presentation of how the organization got started and its accomplishments over the years as well as good food, music, and visiting with friends.


During 2015, BCPIA provided 7,503 services to 6,304 people in order to educate as well as provide basic needed services.  A total of 13,383 meals were served out of the Center and we coordinated 29,113 hours of service by 903 volunteers from inside and outside the area.



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 statement was changed slightly this year and 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:

  1. The strength of our area rests in its citizens
  2. Young people should be active citizens in the places they live
  3. Everyone can help build the communities in which they live
  4. The best way to help people is to help them help themselves
  5. The people best able to address a problem are those most directly affected by it
  6. 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, three AmeriCorps members, one VetCorps member, and an Experience Works 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 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 at the Center 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 and to participate in the peer review process.



         BCPIA partners with many organizations to offer needed services in the community.  Our organizational partners include LifeBridge AmeriCorps, who sponsor our AmeriCorps and VetCorps program; the local Department of Health and Human Resources, who provide volunteer staff; Workforce WV, who placed several youth to work here for a three-month 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 and Technology 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; Americans Helping Americans, who send us new coats, blankets, shoes, diapers, and food to distribute;  and the Council of Southern Mountains and Mountaineer Food Bank, who work with us on hunger reduction

            We provide meeting space for the Southern Highlands mental health patients and their workers.  We also provide meeting space for local coal mine classes and are the designated Emergency Response Center for three of the local coal mines in case of an accident.  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 and VetCorps 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.


  1. Americans Helping Americans
  2. Anthem Foundation
  3. Bernard McDonough Foundation
  4. Bike & Build
  5. College & Church Volunteer Groups
  6. Credit Bureau of the Virginias
  7. Dominion Foundation
  8. ECA Foundation
  9. Future Generations
  10. George M. Cruise Foundation
  11. Hugh I. Shott Foundation
  12. Katharine Tierney Foundation
  13. Lowes Foundation
  14. McDowell County Board of Education
  15. National Coal Heritage
  16. Skewes Family Foundation
  17. WV Dept. of Health & Human Resources
  18. WV Development Office
  19. WV Division of Culture & History



  1. Renovated Gymnasium Ramp and painted Computer Lab Ramp
  2. Painted bathroom floor and other areas of building
  3. Removed appliances that could not be repaired and installed new ones
  4. Replaced one picnic table
  5. Built Spice Rack for kitchen
  6. Replaced toilet in Men’s Restroom
  7. Replaced broken floor tiles in hall
  8. Painted shelves and cabinets in kitchen
  9. Painted ceilings in Coal Room and Maintenance Room
  10. Added three street lights to outside of building
  11. Installed an air conditioner in 2nd floor office
  12. Installed a new gutter
  13. Replaced garage roof
  14. Repaired outside stage floor
  15. Repaired playground equipment



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 afterschool program with 42 different students attending this year.  Our program is held year round and is licensed by the WV Department of Health and Human Resources.  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, exercise, and transportation.  Good health habits are taught such as brushing their teeth, nutrition education, and oral health education.    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, study, and enjoy learning about. 

As part of this program, they went on several different field trips including to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, Whipple Company Store, site of Bartley mine disaster, the old US. Steel Mine in Gary, Youth Event at the Welch Theatre, the Circus, several trips to the Movies, and the Bluefield City Park Christmas Lights.

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

Because of a change at the Career and Technology Center this year, our tutors now work with all 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.  The purpose of the ACT Work Keys Training is to assist them at Work Force to find employment after graduation.

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.

This year we had a series of workshops on Parent Leadership that culminated with a three-day retreat at Glade Springs Resort.  Thirty participants attended four workshops held at the Center and the retreat at the Resort in Glade Springs. The parents attended short workshops for two days, and then got to spend the rest of the time with their families swimming, bowling, bicycle riding, and enjoying the activities available at the resort.

PlayPalsAfter partnering with Community Crossings Parents as Teachers on the PlayPals program last year, Big Creek People in Action is continuing the program on our own this year to give 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 2015

  1. Tutoring at the McDowell Career and Technology Center
  2. Working with the Afterschool Program
  3. Sponsoring Read Alouds and literacy activities at Southside K-8 and Head Start Centers
  4. Working with West Virginia Public Broadcasting on the 4-week Super Why camp to teach young children to read
  5. Distributed and installed Smoke Alarms
  6. Head Start Spring Fling
  7. Back to School Bash – Distributed Book Bags, School Supplies, & Coats
  8. Dr. Seuss Birthday Read Aloud event
  9. Halloween event at the Head Start
  10. Participated in the Halloween event at Southside K-8
  11. Christmas Party for Head Start


McDowell County reports the lowest standard of housing in the state of West Virginia, with age being the primary factor affecting the quality of housing.  Big Creek People in Action’s 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 the rehabilitation of 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 2015, BCPIA served 221 individuals with housing rehabilitation services.  Types of assistance included installing new roofs, repairing other roofs, painting,  handicap ramps, vinyl siding, windows, insulation, plumbing, flooring repairs, bathroom repairs, porch repairs, and others.

College groups that visited during 2015 included the University of Richmond, the University of Notre Dame (two trips),  Georgia State, Rider University, Ferrum College, Adrian College, Centre College (2 trips), Emory and Henry College assisting with the carnival, and Warren Wilson College assisting with the Christmas Parties.  Church groups included First Parish Church Unitarian Universalist from Massachusetts, Sidwell Friends from Washington DC, Upshur Helping Hands from WV, SS Peter & Paul Church from New York, Unitarian Universalist from Maryland, South Lexington, Red Bank, Smyrna, and Convent Churches from South Carolina, Christ United Methodist Church from Pennsylvania, River Road Unitarian from Maryland, Second Baptist Church from Richmond, Virginia, and Berwick Academy from Maine.


Service Learning is a method of teaching through which students apply their academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in their communities.  Service Learning teaches the skills of civic participation and 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.

            We worked with the Youth Works Program from Nashville, Tennessee during the summer that provided 60 volunteers for four weeks.  They worked with the afterschool program, Super Why Camp, and housing rehabilitation. 


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 VetCorps member has his office in the Computer Lab and regularly helps veterans and other residents to prepare proper resumes, expand their computer skills, and apply for jobs. 

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. 



Our VetCorps member assists fellow veterans to access services, programs, and benefits that are available to veterans.    We collaborate with the American Red Cross on the Services to the Armed Forces program to assist with VA claims and military personnel.  Our Vet Corps member also helped transport veterans for appointments and prepared food boxes for veterans and their families,



This year, we sponsored two major health events - the Moms and Babes Fair and the Senior Health Fair.  In addition, we had many people attend health workshops on diabetes and two sets of prenatal classes.  Another component of the Healthy Lifestyles Program this year was working with the Affordable Health Care Program to assist people in enrolling in insurance programs.




      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 twelve 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.  We sold great home-cooked foods and staged carnival games.  Hundreds of people enjoyed the music from the parking lot, gymnasium, and even the Coal Museum located on the first floor, including those who were in front of the stage flat footing and dancing the night away.  Great fun for everyone and admission is free.

            Senior Health Fair - The third 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 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.  Each week was held at a different community in the county and a total of 70 people attended the camp.  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).

            Community Christmas Activities -  With a lot of help from churches from South Carolina, Gateway Community Church from Virginia, Second Baptist Church from Richmond, Warren Wilson College, and a lot of generous people, Christmas was made a little brighter for many children, families, and seniors who attended our annual Christmas Parties.  We had four parties this year, serving 836 people.  Each child, received gifts, treat bags from Santa, gifts for Mom and Dad, a shoe box of goodies prepared by Warren Wilson College, food boxes, and a hot Christmas meal.  We also served senior citizens, Southern Highlands mental health clients, and veterans with gifts and food boxes.

            Big Creek High School Alumni DanceWe were proud to host the 6th 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 many other special events or projects during 2015 including:

  1. Theatrical Performance of “The Velveteen Rabbit” at the Center
  2. Barter Theatre Workshop with afterschool students
  3. WV Public Broadcasting Easy Bites workshop with afterschool
  4. Six Diabetes Workshops
  5. Eight Prenatal Classes
  6. Four Parent Leadership workshops and three-day Parent Retreat at Glade Springs for 30 people
  7. Do It Yourself Workshop
  8. Coats, blankets, diapers, food, hygiene kits, paint, and shoe Giveaways
  9. Head Start Spring Fling
  10. Bible schools sponsored by South Carolina churches & Richmond Baptist Church
  11. War Fall Festival
  12. Book Bag/ School Supply Giveaway at Southside Social
  13. Participated in “Roll & Read” and distributed books at Welch
  14. Participated at Halloween event at Southside K-8
  15. Head Start Halloween Event
  16. Head Start Christmas Event



  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