From building a wheelchair ramp to finding someone a couch, more than a dozen Letcher County residents are helping other county residents in many different ways.
“We just help people with everyday needs,” said Alberta Perry, chairperson of I CAN, Inc., which stands for I Care About Neighbors. “It’s not a lot, but to people who need it, it is a whole lot.”
Perry said she wanted to raise money and use donations to help people in the county in which she lives.
“I knew this was something I have wanted to do,” said Perry. “It has been really heartwarming to be able to help people.”
Lee Burke, of McRoberts, told Perry of her longtime dream of starting a food drive. Burke came up with the name I CAN, Inc.
Perry’s longtime friend, Doris Banks, who has helped her on other community projects, was quick to help.
“Nine times out of 10, people who need help don’t ask,” said Banks. “Their neighbor or somebody else will call and tell us what the need is. There are so many needs in so many places.”
The group’s first meeting was held in late August and its first food box was given out on Oct. 17. As of Dec. 23, I CAN, Inc. has handed out more than 60 food boxes.
They have provided people with firewood, house coal and heating fuel. They have helped pay for medications and eyeglasses. They put plastic over windows for an elderly couple who live in Eolia. They laid floors in an elderly woman’s trailer. They helped an elderly man get an eye exam. They got a kitchen faucet for a woman whose water lines burst.
“We can’t build a house, but we can help people and make it a little easier on them,” said Perry. “It’s just a bunch of people trying to make a difference. It’s working. Thank God. It’s working.”
They have helped with travel expenses for several families with sick children. A power surge ruined a man’s refrigerator so they found him a refrigerator. Sheets, pillows, clothes and other necessities have been given to victims of house fires.
“We’ve helped them get back on their feet,” said Perry.
Close to Thanksgiving, someone told Perry of a family that didn’t have much living room furniture. A love seat and recliner were delivered the day before Thanksgiving and a couch was donated Thanksgiving evening.
“It’s simple things,” said Perry. “If you need the help and someone is willing to help, it makes all the difference.”
While buying supplies for an elderly woman three days before Christmas, Perry and Burke noticed a homeless man with his dog. They bought the man a meal and paid for a hotel room for him. They also bought dog food.
Perry said she recently learned about a woman who needed underpinning on her trailer, flooring and a toilet. Perry posted on a Facebook page for I CAN, Inc. that she needed a commode.
“I got three,” she said.
I CAN, Inc. has had support from churches, non-profit organizations and individuals. Carpenters have volunteered with building wheelchair ramps and laying floors.
Perry’s brother-in-law pays rent on a climate-controlled storage unit for the group to store food.
Perry’s next goal is to find a building to store donated items.
“People don’t realize the need that is around here,” said Perry. “Most of them have fallen on hard times. Since we operate solely on fundraisers and donations, we don’t have a lot of money. We do what we can.”
Perry said the corporation is working with Whitesburg attorney Angie Hatton Mullins to obtain non-profit status.
“I’m hoping it gets bigger and better,” said Perry. “The need is here. We are making a difference.”
I CAN, Inc. has a meeting set for 5 p.m. on Thursday in the banquet room at Pine Mountain Grill. Volunteers are needed. Those attending the meeting are asked to bring two nonperishable food items and blankets, toys or food for dogs.
I CAN, Inc is having a hot dog dinner fundraiser on Feb. 5 at the Whitesburg VFW.
They are also selling chances on a Valentine basket valued at $300.
Contact Perry at 855-7962. Contact Banks at 633-8476.