for State & National Volunteers
Forms, Fees & More Resources
Let's Get You Ready for the Trip!
Whether you’re making a cross country journey or driving in from a nearby state, we’ve got everything you need to prepare you for HDA’s volunteer experience! Get all the forms, materials, and information required to complete your registration and get ready for a memorable and fulfilling time of service in the mountains of Appalachian East Kentucky.
Volunteer Application Process
First Things First
Please click the button below to register. Once we’ve received and approved your application, we will send you our Volunteer Planning Guide by email or postal mail (once the print edition is available). Once you’ve registered, be sure to send us your volunteer deposit by postal mail. If you have any questions after exploring the guide, please be sure to contact us.
For those volunteering as a group: the group leader should have each volunteer or the legal guardian of the volunteer fill out the Volunteer Registration Form, as well as all other forms necessary to the volunteer’s individual application process. If you have questions, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator.
A $50 deposit per volunteer is due by April 18, 2023. The payment should be sent via postal mail. If fees are not received by the deadline, we can’t hold your volunteer dates. The deposit is non-refundable, unless a cancellation occurs due to an unforeseen circumstance on our end. The remaining volunteer fee ($175 per person) is due upon arrival.
Needed Forms & Documents
Before your volunteer date, make sure you have:
HDA’s Volunteer Program is open to anyone age 14 & up. Children younger than 14 are welcome to come along, but they must be accompanied and supervised by a parent or guardian at all times.
The Housing Development Alliance (HDA) provides affordable housing and home repairs to low-income families in Breathitt, Knott, Leslie, and Perry Counties in Eastern Kentucky. Note: We capitalize Eastern because Eastern Kentucky is a distinct region. Sometimes referred to as Appalachian Kentucky or Appalachian Eastern Kentucky, this region of the state is rugged, still somewhat isolated, and full of natural beauty.
The counties we serve are “persistent poverty counties” (according to the Appalachian Regional Commission) and are some of the poorest in the nation. However, despite these challenges, the people of our region are resilient, tough, and independent. They’re creative, determined, and proud, with a rich heritage, unique language, and an unmatched genuineness. You’ll love the place, but you’ll love the people even more!
Check out HDA and its surrounding area on Google Earth!
You’ll be working alongside our skilled carpenters to serve the housing needs of low-income Appalachian Eastern Kentucky families. In July 2022, our region suffered an historic 1,000-year flood, which destroyed homes and killed over 40 people. Much of our work in 2023 will be focused on helping flood survivors recover by rebuilding and repairing homes.
Sometimes, the families you’ll be helping are large families with four or more children. Often, you’ll be helping elderly couples, older folks who live alone, disabled persons, and Veterans. There’s not a lot of racial diversity in our region (it’s over 95% white), but we do have many Black families in our area, as well as a growing Hispanic and Asian population.
In our four-county region, over 7,800 households live on an income of less than $10,000 per year. Based on nationally recognized affordability guidelines, these households have less than $350 per month for housing costs, including utilities. The coalfields of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia have the highest disability rates in the nation, with over 35% of the working age population having a disability. Also, almost 40% of children in our four counties live in poverty. Despite the loss of population and loss of coal mining jobs, the number of households in the area is increasing, causing an increase in the demand for safe and affordable housing. Leaders in all four counties have identified affordable housing as a major need.
Since the flood disaster of 2022, the housing crisis in our area has been far worse. Over 2,100 homes were majorly damaged and most are uninhabitable without repairs. Nearly 400 homes were completely destroyed (gone). At present, hundreds of families are still displaced, living in travel trailers, in hotels or lodges at state parks, or with family members, and still others are living in their flood-damaged, gutted-out homes, pop-up campers, or in sheds they’ve converted into tiny homes. Local leaders have said housing is the #1 need of flood survivors.
Throughout the year, HDA hosts various College Mission Trips, Churches & Church Youth Groups, schools, corporate retreats, Older Adults/Seniors, and other groups from across the country to help build and repair homes for families in need. We see most of our volunteers in the spring and summer; however, opportunities are also available year round.
Our State & National Volunteers are welcome to join us for our Community House Raising event (typically held in the fall) in which we build a home in 4-6 weeks for a local low-income family in need. State & National Volunteers are also invited to complete The Ultimate House Raising Challenge in which a group will completely “dry-in” a new home in ONE WEEK.
No construction experience is required. A tentative work site plan will be provided the week before you arrive at HDA. Volunteers work alongside our on-staff carpenters. There will always be at least one HDA carpenter onsite. Volunteers work on new home construction and/or home repair. When helping flood survivors, work ranges from muck outs, to home rehabs and repairs, to building new homes.
Repairs range from painting homes to digging ditches to building wheelchair ramps and porches. With new homes, volunteers work on various phases of construction, from shingling to digging footers, drains, framing floors, to cleaning up and landscaping. While some tasks seem more exciting than others, each phase is crucial to completing the home and to our homeowners.
Though we cannot guarantee fulfilling project requests, we strive to find work that is meaningful to your group and valuable to the people we serve.
Groups arrive on Sunday afternoon. If needed, other arrangements can be made to accommodate earlier or later arrivals. Our Volunteer Coordinator will meet your group at First Presbyterian Church in Hazard (directions to the church are provided in your Volunteer Planning Guide) for a brief introduction, which includes a tour of the church and an orientation of our program. We’ll tell you all about what you can expect to do and learn while volunteering with HDA.
Following this meeting, our Volunteer Coordinator will review expectations and answer questions for adults in the group. The leaders of the trip will divide the group into smaller worksite crews of 5-7 (depending on group size) prior to the first workday. Each crew leader will receive a resource folder with directions to each worksite, worksite plans, and a list of area attractions. We will also share important staff contact information and emergency numbers.
Groups work Monday through Thursday. Taking Friday off helps the carpenters plan for the next phase of construction, while allowing your group to immerse further into the local culture by giving you time to do some sightseeing or reflect on your experience in the hills of Appalachian Eastern Kentucky!
On your departure day, the Volunteer Coordinator will meet with the entire group to discuss the events of the week, distribute souvenir T-shirts, and take a group photo! We ask that each group clean the areas of the church that were used. Before you leave for home, your group must turn in the keys, timesheets, evaluation forms, and resource folders.
Before 7:00 AM: This is time to eat breakfast, pack lunches, water, sunscreen, and first aid kits for each work site. Other activities, such as morning devotions or group reflections, are optional based upon the discretion of the Group Leader.
7:30 AM: On Monday, the Volunteer Coordinator will meet you at the church to communicate any changes in plans for each worksite. Crew leaders must attend this brief meeting. The work teams will also meet their carpenters at this time!
8:00 AM: Each crew leader will transport teams to the worksite. The carpenters will lead you on Monday morning. Each leader will receive written directions to the site for the week.
Arrival at the worksite: The lead carpenter will introduce the daily construction plan and discuss any safety issues. During the workday, crew leaders are responsible for enforcing the worksite rules.
12:00 PM: Break for lunch. Everyone stays onsite to eat lunch together.
By 4:00 PM: It’s the end of the workday! Everyone must participate in work site clean-up. Congratulations on a job well done and serving another family!
Return to First Presbyterian: After the workday, you are free to enjoy your time in our service region! Enjoy meals of fellowship and activities according to your own preference. Details on area attractions and restaurants are provided in your Volunteer Planning Guide.
Inclement weather notice: We hope you have a bright, sunny week, but you know what they say, “You can’t predict the weather!” It may be an all day downpour, or it could be a brief shower that you can wait out. If the decision is made to stop work, please know that it is for your safety! Thanks for understanding that carpentry work depends on weather conditions.
A non-refundable deposit of $50 per person is due by April 18, 2023, if you’ve signed up to volunteer this spring or summer. The deposit reserves and holds your spot on our calendar. (The only exception is if HDA must cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances on our end. If that happens, your deposit will be refunded.)
The remaining volunteer fee balance is $175 per person and is due upon arrival. (Total fee for each volunteer is $225.)
The fee of $225 per person per week will cover materials, housing, and staff time. We pay First Presbyterian Church in Hazard a small amount to cover some of the costs to provide housing. The remainder goes to the Housing Development Alliance to help continue our mission.
We partner with the First Presbyterian Church of Hazard to house our volunteers. Groups sleep at the main church building in various Sunday school and fellowship rooms. The church offers plenty of space with a commercial kitchen where volunteers prepare their own meals.
Our volunteers shower at a nearby recreational center, the Hazard Pavilion. The Pavilion is on the same street – Broadway – and is approximately a three-minute walk from the church.
Other features at the Pavilion include: a heated 25-meter pool and a workout room. The facility stays open until 9 PM.
More information about the Church is provided in your Volunteer Planning Guide, but you can also visit the Church on Facebook. For a bit more information about the Hazard Pavilion, visit here or call 606-436-4200.
NOTE: When available, we may be able to house volunteer groups at other local churches that have the necessary volunteer lodging space. We will make those options known to you whenever we are aware of them.
Nope! You needn’t have any experience at all. There will be at least one HDA carpenter on each worksite at all times, and he or she will show you what to do and will provide further instruction anytime it’s needed.
HDA provides tools for everyone at each worksite. Tools are purchased from local businesses and suppliers, which contributes to our local economy. However, if you’d like to bring your own tools, that’s perfectly fine – just be sure to discuss this preference with our Volunteer Coordinator.
Water, ice, and snacks are provided by HDA at the worksites. If you have favorite snacks or drinks, you will want to bring those for yourself.
Currently, HDA provides one meal – your farewell dinner. All other meals, including lunches at the worksites, are on your own. Please note that the First Presbyterian Church has a full kitchen, where you are welcome to prepare meals. Listings for local restaurants, groceries, and convenience stores are included in your Volunteer Planning Guide.
We require all groups to have their own vehicles for transportation to the worksites each day. Please have one worksite vehicle that can accommodate each group of up to seven volunteers. Vans work very well for worksite transportation. School buses are not allowed.
Contact information for local car and van rental agencies can be provided, if necessary.
*Keep in mind that roads in Eastern Kentucky are often curvy, narrow, at various elevations, and are sometimes unpaved or in need of repair (especially now, due to the recent flooding). Large vehicles, like buses, are difficult to maneuver on many of these roadways and present safety hazards. Please allow plenty of time for driving to and from worksites!
Safety is of utmost importance to HDA. The lead carpenter at each worksite will supervise you at all times and will ensure the safety of every volunteer. Clear and direct communication between the lead carpenter and the volunteer group’s leader is crucial to your safety as well. Put your group’s safety first in all things! Please review, become well acquainted with, and refer to the Work Site Rules, which you have been provided in your Volunteer Planning Guide. Following the Work Site Rules keeps everyone safe. While Housing Development Alliance staff and carpenters have full authority to enforce Work Site Rules, it is the Group Leader’s/Group Leaders’ responsibility to supervise members of their group (including any children who come along), ensure their safety, and enforce the Work Site Rules.
The leaders of the trip will divide the group into smaller worksite crews of 5-7 (depending on group size) prior to the first workday. Each of those crews will be taken to a different site. There may be opportunities for groups to volunteer at worksites that are side-by-side, but this can’t be guaranteed. We want you to have the best experience possible, and in our view, smaller work crews ensure that!
Yes! Each site will have a lead carpenter, and at least one HDA carpenter will be present on each site at all times.
After your arrival, our Volunteer Coordinator will meet your group at First Presbyterian Church in Hazard for a brief introduction, which includes an orientation of our program. We’ll tell you all about what you can expect to do and learn while volunteering with HDA. Following this meeting, our Volunteer Coordinator will review expectations and answer questions for adults in the group.
Each crew leader will receive a resource folder with directions to each worksite, worksite plans, and a list of area attractions. Your lead HDA carpenter will also be on-hand at the worksite to provide instructions. We will also share important staff contact information and emergency numbers.
HDA’s Volunteer Coordinator will be reachable at all times.
In your Volunteer Planning Guide, you will find information about local area attractions, as well as information about parks, special events, outdoor adventure opportunities, and more. Whenever possible, we will provide you with discounts for activities like these.
As with any trip, it’s always a good idea to bring along reading materials and board games.
As with most remote locations, cell phone service is spotty. Appalachian Wireless and Verizon customers will have much better service than others, but it will still be hit and miss in more isolated areas (like mountain hollows).
WiFi is available at the Church. However, we think it would be more beneficial to our volunteers to limit cell phone usage and focus more on your experience in Appalachian Eastern Kentucky.
HDA is not affiliated with any church or religion. Even though our volunteers are graciously housed by a local Presbyterian church, we are not a Presbyterian organization or Christian organization. We are open to all people and all faiths, and our commitment to helping others, showing kindness, serving those in need, and treating others the way we’d like to be treated are ideas found in most, if not all, religions. What can we do to improve the quality of life for others?- that’s the question we ask. The work we do is built on that sort of philosophy, which is accepting of all people, is dedicated to serving them, and is welcoming to all who wish to serve alongside us.
If you have questions or need assistance:
Call our office at 606-436-0497.
Jane Rose Britton, Volunteer & Community Coordinator
Rebekah Vermillion, AmeriCorps Direct Service Member