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 2019 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 2019.  

During 2019, BCPIA served 3,039 people with programs to educate as well as provide basic human needs.  A total of 11,069 meals were served out of the Center and we coordinated 19,713 hours of service by 578 volunteers from inside and outside the area.

NEW FOR 2019

     We are now considered a Starting Points Family Resource Center by the state which requires that we have a pantry to serve the community that is open five days a week.  We now have a Family Assistance Pantry that stocks food, clothing, hygiene, baby, and household items.  We also received funding to hire a new employee to be the Family Assistance Coordinator.  
    In 2019, we began sending home food bags with the afterschool students to help alleviate hunger during the days they are not at the Center, especially near the end of the month when food stamps may have ran out.  Also new this year is we built a storage shed for housing supplies and a Gazebo swing.

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.


     With increased funding and requirements through our DHHR grant as a Family Resource Center, we were able to add an additional staff position this year.  With the new Family Assistance Coordinator, we now have eight BCPIA full-time staff members, four AmeriCorps members, and one staff member provided by the Senior Community Service Employment Program, all 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 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.


     As a West Virginia Family Resource Center, we have an Advisory Council, which consists of program participants, business leaders, and representatives from other organizations.   The 7 advisory council members and BCPIA staff meet once a quarter to report on and 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; Senior Community Services Employment Program who provides our Receptionist; 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 hunger and  disaster relief services;  Mountaineer Food Bank, who works with us on hunger reduction; and Catholic Community Charities, who help people get assistance with their electric bill.  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, one staff member 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
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
McDowell County Board of Education
National Coal Heritage
Skewes Family Foundation
United Way of Southern WV
William & Helen Thomas Trust
WV Dept. of Health & Human Resources
WV Division of Culture & History
WVU Extension
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 served 56 kids in 2019.  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 and snack, homework support, computer time, help with school projects, exercise, and transportation.  Good health habits are taught through nutrition and dental 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.  This year we started sending food bags homes with the kids to ensure they are getting enough food when they don’t get to eat at the Center.                           
    Afterschool Garden -  As part of a project with the WVU Extension Be Healthy grant, the afterschool students planted a small garden on our lot, cared for it, harvested the vegetables, and ate them as part of their meals.  They were excited to see the progress each day of their work.  Students developed positive eating habits through eating the vegetables they had grown.                                                                                      
    Summer Camp -  With support from WVU Extension and National Coal Heritage we had a very successful summer camp in three different communities this summer with 46 kids attending.  It was based on the T.R.A.V.E.L.. program which stands for Traditions, Research, Arts, Voices, Education, and Learning.   They learned about different cultures, food, art, and traditions, including about our Coal Heritage and Appalachian culture.  They also participated in the “Discover My Plate” nutrition program.  We kept the focus on fun when it came to exercise every day through group exercise and other activities to build their physical skills. The kids had a great time playing on a Slip–n-Slide water slide, swimming, helping with the garden, and going on a field trip to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, youth museum, and miniature golf.  
    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.  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.



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 2019, BCPIA served 76 individuals with housing repairs as well as many other people through community projects including building a handicap ramp at a church, painting the Caretta Mission building, working on an area graveyard, and several projects at Big Creek People in Action’s building.  Home repairs included installing & repairing roofs, painting, handicap ramps, vinyl siding, windows, insulation, plumbing, flooring, bathroom repairs, porch repairs, and others.  
The work is done by our staff along with volunteer groups from colleges and churches that stay at our dormitories on the third floor of our building.  We had 83 college students stayed here this year from the following colleges:  
Centre College
 Ferrum College
 Rider University
 University of Notre Dame  (2 trips)
 University of Richmond.  
There were 208 volunteers from Church groups including:

2nd Baptist Church, Richmond, VA
Downingtown Friends, PA
First Parish in Needham, MA
First Unitarian Brooklyn, NY
Mt. Hermon Baptist Church, SC
North Shore Unitarian, IL
Red Bank Baptist Church, SC
River Road Unitarian Universalist, MD
Sidwell Friends, Washington DC
Smyrna Baptist Church, SC
South Lexington Baptist Church, SC
SS Peter & Paul, New York
Towson Unitarian, MD
Unitarian Universalist, Columbia, MD
Unitarian Universalist, Newark, MD
Unitarian Universalist, Shelter Rock NY
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.
    College students are introduced to our Appalachian culture through community tours, performances by bluegrass artists, flatfoot dancing, visits to a coal mine, and storytellers.  


Our Healthy Lifestyles program sponsors the Moms and Babes Fair for new and expecting mothers.  Mothers attend educational workshops, get information from county providers, and receive free baby items to support the health and safety of their infants.  The Healthy Lifestyles Program also  works with the monthly meal and food box delivery to those in the community who may be ill and not able to get out, which served 65 people.   The “Discover My Plate” nutrition program was taught at the Summer Camp.  Dental Hygiene education and free dental supplies were distributed to 146 kids.
Other events in the county that the Healthy Lifestyles program participated in to give out health, parenting, and organizational information were:
Community Crossing Baby Fair
Welch Hospital Resource Fair
Childhood Fair at the Welch Armory
War Fall Festival
Community Events in War


Our Family Assistance Pantry opened this year to provide food, clothing, hygiene, baby, and household items to area families.  We purchased new clothing racks, storage shelves, clothes hangers, and a refrigerator and freezer for the panty.   Most of the clothing and household items are donated from the community, but we purchase the food, hygiene, and baby items.   We served 291 people through the pantry this year.  We actually could use more space for the pantry and are discussing ideas of using other areas of the building to store food items that are only distributed once a month.


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.
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.  Our staff worked with people in the Computer Lab to help them complete on-line classes as well as basic computer skills.

LifeBridge AmeriCorps members are placed at our Center to work on educational programs.  Our members worked on the following projects in 2019:
Tutoring at the McDowell Career and Technology Center and Southside K-8
Working with the Afterschool Program
Working with the Summer Camps
Installed smoke alarms in area homes
Had a Veteran’s Appreciation Dinner
Set up at the Drug Free Day
Distributed School Supplies at Southside K-8
Dr. Seuss Birthday Read Aloud event
Helping with a community giveaway for their Martin Luther King, Jr. event
Planted flowers at Berwind Lake
Participated in the Halloween event at Southside K-8
Christmas Party for Head Start


      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 2019 included the following:
Spring Carnival – After a long, hard  winter, people are ready to come out and have some fun in a family environment.  We served 145 people with food boxes and also had fun games, good food, and great prizes for all.
    Moms and Babes Fair - This year’s baby fair packed a lot of information for expectant and new mothers. Several organizations gave out valuable information about programs and the moms attending also sat through workshops about prenatal and infant care. This community baby shower is both informative and fun.  Moms get a lot of items such as diapers, wipes, lotions, baby bath products, smoke detectors, baby clothing, car seats, and much more.
    Mountain Music Festival–  Showcasing local talent and giving the community a day of family-style entertainment is what this festival is all about.  At the 2019 festival, we provided free inflatable blow-up games for the kid’s enjoyment, as well as carnival games and great food.  Fun for the whole family and admission was free.
    Community Christmas Activities -  With a lot of help from churches from South Carolina, Second Baptist Church from Richmond, and many 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 640 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 2019:
Coats, blankets, diapers, food, hygiene kits, school supplies, and shoe Giveaways
Two Bible schools sponsored by the South Carolina churches and 2nd Baptist Church from Richmond
Collaborated with the Council of Southern Mountains on food distribution
Served 38 people as a warming center when it was extremely cold and some people’s electricity was off
Distributed food  boxes to the Federal prison workers when they were not getting paid
Distributed turkeys serving 1,301 people


     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