CNR students and staff members traveled to the West Virginia Appalachians in June for the second of its two 2011 Plunge Service Trips. Service was completed in Kermit at the Big Laurel Learning Center, located on a ridgetop above the Marrowbone Creek in Mingo County near the Kentucky border.
CNR volunteers on this Plunge mentored participants in the Big Laurel Girls' Summer Camp.
The Big Laurel community, like much of West Virginia, was settled in the late nineteenth century and has been home to generations of struggles and dreams. The country side has been used and abused by outsiders. The resource-rich region suffered from exploitation by coal and timber barons. The purchase and subsequent absentee ownership of mineral rights in the region are one of the past century's great social injustices.
This is a traditional mountain community that inspires celebration, education, and volunteerism as tools to promote healing and social change. Big Laurel Learning Center espouses community-based education for local children, steeped in Appalachian heritage and looking outward to a larger world.
As always, CNR students "plunged" into the week - into the culture, into acts of service, into relationships with the people of this West Virginia Appalachian community. This rural plunge explored the ideal of living simply so that others might simply live. During the week, the Plunge team shared responsibilities, prayer, ideas, fun, and some hard work.