Roughly 250 miles away from Pleasant View in the Appalachian town of Booneville, Kentucky, many people live without running water, electricity, and many modern-day luxuries most of us take for granted. They live in shacks, inside old buses, and in rotted-out trailers. Many who reside there, live solely off of welfare and the land.
The old coal mining town, located inside Owsley County in an area of Eastern Kentucky, is said to have an approximate population of 76. The county itself is home to about 4.500 residents; 507 of those families live without water and electricity, and 76 percent of the population is on government assistance, according to volunteers at the local mission, Emma Quire.
One upon a time in the 1940s, Booneville flourished. But when the area did not produce as much coal as projected, everything shut down- jobs were lost, businesses closed, and the area went bankrupt.
After learning about the dire conditions of Booneville and the desperate needs of its residents, Heather Hardwick, owner of The Shop in Peasant View, knew immediately she wanted to help. Not only did she bring like-minded individuals with her on the eye-opening adventure to Booneville on August 21, she also brought a truck load of donations and her shears.
“If you can imagine the worst possible circumstances and living conditions, it would still pale in comparison to what these people live through on a daily basis. It is incredibly sad to know that only four hours away is a county that is nothing short of a third-world country. They need us,” Hardwick says.
Once they learned the history of the town, met with the mayor, and surveyed area, the ladies of Cheatham County got busy. The team set up “Shop” in the Owsley County High School and over the course of five hours, gave 56 professional hair cuts to men, women, and children- something most of them had never had in their lifetime.
While cutting and styling, the team checked for lice, educated on personal hygiene, distributed donations, and got to know the citizens of Booneville.
Hardwick, who has been inspired by her inaugural trip, is anxious to get back to help in as many ways as she can.
For more information and to join a group of Cheatham residents who want to help the people of Booneviile this Christmas season, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.