Stepping up when things are down

Housing crisis moves agency to pick up the pace

Becca KnightBecca Knight ’03
Majored in Sociology

Director of Home Repair Ministries
ppalachia Service Project, Inc. (ASP)
Johnson City, Tennessee

The national housing crisis has been in the news lately but housing problems are not new to Appalachia (pop. 20 million)—one of the poorest, most isolated regions of the United States. Yet, as the economic downturn deepens and the number of troubled families continues to rise, there are those who plan to not only meet the need, but to double their efforts.  Becca Knight ’03 is among them.

As the newly appointed Director of Home Repair Ministries for Appalachia Service Project, Inc. (ASP)—a nonprofit organization that provides home repair services for low-income families in Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky—Knight is working to increase the number of families her organization serves from 500 to 1,000—a courageous ambition considering the nonprofit’s operating resources continue to dwindle.

“ASP aspires to be the leader in eradicating substandard housing in Appalachia,” claims the confident Knight. “Despite decreases in charitable donations and budget cuts, we hope to double the number of families we serve in the next five years by doubling our volunteers from 15,000 to 30,000.”

Knight derives her bold confidence and unyielding energy from living and working among the people she serves. “In 2000, I helped build a home addition for a young family of four in southwest Virginia,” she recalls. “They had been living in a three-room house, all sharing one bedroom, and had no indoor plumbing. Social Services had been threatening to take the children away. Our work enabled the family to remain together—in a dry, safe, warm home. It was one of the greatest joys of my life.”

Knight’s experience at ASP is a natural extension of her earlier life at Messiah College. Active in the Agape Center for Service and Learning, Knight, who has since earned a master’s in nonprofit management, led programs to combat hunger and homelessness, which allowed her to gain experience in managing and organizing people who serve.  “I believe that affordable, safe, sanitary housing is a basic human right. ASP’s goal is to address housing needs in Central Appalachia while transforming the lives of volunteers, staff, and the families we serve.”

To learn more about Appalachia Service Project, visit

Posted in 2003, About Service, Agape Center, Alumni, Giving Back, Sociology | Comments Off

Posted on March 3rd, 2009

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