Over 100 Years of Service
Located deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, Red Bird Mission is like a little town. The main campus hosts Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes for pre-school-aged children and down the road, just a little way is the Red Bird Christian School where children from Kindergarten through 12th grade receive a Christian-based education.
We are also blessed to have a medical clinic and dental clinic located on the main campus. Beside them, the old Red Bird Hospital houses our Community Outreach offices. This is our hub for community services. Hearing clinics, diabetic education classes, smoking cession, and mental health services are just a few of the programs offered.
Beginning around the end of summer toy donations arrive from all over the country for our Christmas program. This program allows low-income families to pick up very nice toys for their children. The distribution of thousands of shoeboxes full of health and beauty aids takes place each year around Christmas as well. These too come to us by donation.
Commodities distribution and emergency food box distribution are regular occurrences at the mission. There is a baby pantry for new mothers who need help getting formula, clothes, and diapers for their babies. We can even provide them with car seats and high chairs. All of these things come from donations from all over the world.
DeWall Senior Citizen Center
Located a few miles from campus we have the DeWall Senior Center which provides hot meals and activities for local senior citizens.
On the main campus, you will also find student dorms, faculty housing, cabins, and other housing for mission volunteers that dot the beautiful campus. There are also affordable apartments for our low-income, elderly members of the community located across from the school.
I like to think of Red Bird Mission as a heart that pumps life into the mountains surrounding it. After the fall of the coal industry, many families were left struggling. Poverty is the norm in this area. For generations, many young men (much fewer women chose this path) went straight from high school into coal mining. This is all they knew and when those jobs no longer existed they had little to no training to enter other fields of work. Red Bird Mission helps provide families in our area with hope and the possibility of life after coal. Recently we launched a STEAM program. Through STEAM we are working on providing new educational opportunities for adults and high school-aged students. This includes Cyber Security, 3D Printing, Nursing, and Heavy Equipment training classes right now. We want to expand on this list as time goes on.
The Red Bird community store is a place where inexpensive clothes, furniture, and home goods can be purchased. The store also provides the basics, clothing, furniture, and household goods for fire victims for free. Low-income families can apply for vouchers at Community Outreach which they can spend at the store.
Each spring brings volunteers from all over the nation to participate in Work Camp. They go out in the community to make repairs to family’s homes. Most volunteers are here for a week and stay in cabins on campus, a full kitchen providing them with daily meals.
Grow Appalachia at Red Bird
Red Bird Mission is located in a food desert. It takes 45 minutes to drive to the nearest town to buy food. Therefore when you look at the programs we offer at Red Bird, Grow Appalachia is one of the most life-changing for families. It is not just a temporary fix. I think of the old proverb that says, ‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ This is how it is with gardening. We provide heirloom plants and seeds so that farmers can save seeds for their plants and grow a garden again next season. In this way, a garden can provide months of fresh food for multiple families year after year and the confidence gained by growing a garden can bring pride and a feeling of accomplishment.
Farmers Market & Certified Roadside Market
Many farmers also use their gardens as a source of much-needed income, selling their extra produce at the farmers’ market or producing value-added products in our commercial kitchen. Our community store is also registered as a Certified Roadside Market so farmers can sell baked goods and canned items year-round.
Here at Red Bird Mission, we realize how blessed we are to be able to help our community and we appreciate Grow Appalachia and Berea College for allowing us to have this chance to make a difference in so many lives.