Drive through the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio and into the little-known towns of Jackson County. You’ll see the shadows of a once thriving community now hidden behind high unemployment, degrading public utilities, and a drug epidemic which has earned Jackson County the title of number one in the state for prescription opioid consumption.
Despite all of the challenges, your team will meet community leaders who have a sense of pride and a desire to address issues head-on. As you tackle home repair projects and reach out to youth from drug-impoverished neighborhoods, you’ll be a part of the change happening in Jackson County and see growth among your own team. Will you commit to an Appalachian mission trip and help restore a sense of dignity and hope to neighbors in small-town America?
Jackson, the county seat, was established in 1795. It was one of the earliest settlements in the Northwest Territory. There were many salt deposits in the surrounding region. Salt production became a thriving industry for Jackson. From 1800 to 1810 the furnace industry multiplied to refine the salt excavated from the deposits. After 1810, salt production in the Jackson area began to diminish. Richer and more abundant salt was found near the West Virginia Kanawha River.
Jackson County was organized on March 1, 1816, and by order of the legislature this new county was named Jackson County, after General Andrew Jackson (a national hero at that time and who one day would become the President of the United States).
In 1826, the southern salt deposits of West Virginia finally pushed the Ohio salt industry to the brink, and thus ended Ohio's first industry.
Jackson County's industry quickly shifted. By 1856 the economic focus became charcoal iron, and in Jackson County eleven iron furnaces were operational. but by 1869, many of the once thriving furnaces began closing their doors. Though iron was still being mined and refined, the focus quickly shifted to the abundant coal resources in the area. By 1898 Jackson County was the Ohio's largest coal producing county. At one time there were 89 active mines where coal was mined by hand—producing annually over 1,500,000 tons.
Businesses were thriving and the local economy was in good standing throughout the first half of the 1900's. It was during the 1960's that the economic stability of Jackson County began to shift. Three of the main area employers shut their doors and other industrial opportunities moved operations out of state. Other businesses were established in the area, but the economy did not return to its previous state. Today, two of the large employers in the area are General Mills and Bellisio Foods, food manufacturing facilities.
With the slowing economy and increasingly difficult times, poverty, drugs and alcohol, and lack of education slowly began to make a crippling impact on areas of the county. Today, Jackson County faces a 7.9% unemployment rate—higher than the national average. In 2014 Jackson County had the highest rating of opioid usage per capita in the entire state of Ohio with enough prescription opioids on the street that when divided evenly each resident would have 113 prescription doses. It is estimated that 18.6% of Jackson County's residents 25 and over do not have a high school diploma.
Ohio is home to some of the most beautiful parks and forests in the country can be found. The rolling foothills of Southeastern Ohio is the home of Wayne National Forest, Old Man's Caves State Park, Canters Caves, and more. Along with the beautifully wooded scenery there is an abundance of freshwater lakes scattered throughout the land. Many state and local parks offer optimal hiking and exciting exploring opportunities.
Jackson County, as well as neighboring counties, is a unique region of Appalachia. Throughout the county there is a deep sense of community pride. Despite the difficulties the area has faced, the small towns create a great opportunities for community. High school sports are always the talk of the towns as each community rallies behind their own. Carrying the same level of importance, hunting and fishing are among top priorities for many. It is a deeply rooted part of the culture to embrace nature and experiencing its abundant wildlife.
Despite the beautiful natural resources, due to the lack of job opportunity and and cultural indoctrination an underlying sense of poverty can be felt in many areas of the county.
Difficult economic times and an underlying poverty mindset have contributed to a lack of routine property care. Because of this, many properties in the area are in need of home repair. The growing drug problem has caused much discourse. Families have felt the impact addiction can make. Drugs are at an all time high, families are separated, and children are growing up in broken homes.
Despite being on the edge of the Bible belt, nearly 70% of Jackson County inhabitants claim no ties to any religion based on the 2010 religion statistics. According to the same study only about 25% of the population claims to be Christian.
The City of Wellston, which was once in debt, now operates on a balanced budget—overcoming financial difficulties and setting an example in an area where the lack of job opportunities has made a devastating impact. It has also been seeking out and applying for grants to make desperately needed improvements to the city. The city government has a deep desire to improve not only the condition of the community, but the lives and well being of its citizens.
Warriors for Christ Recovery is a faith based drug recovery ministry that operates in Jackson County. Justin and Amy Oyer began the ministry in 2013. Justin, a recovered drug addict, has been sober for over 10 years. Through his experience, Warriors for Christ now works to assist those who are trapped in the drug debilitating cycle by sharing the hope message of Jesus Christ. Based from their three ministry locations they have the ability to reach out to hurting communities.
Our mission teams work through a local church, World Outreach Ministries. World Outreach Ministries is involved with both the City of Wellston and Warriors for Christ Recovery, and shares in the vision to see Jackson County transformed.
Work projects are organized to support the needs and vision of the community and designed to connect team members with the local people of Jackson County.
Your team will be involved in home repair and community restoration work projects that reach out to those in need in various practical ways. We will work in neighborhoods with a diverse group of people and circumstances. Team members will have the opportunity to share their lives through service, prayer, and time spent with the families and children they come to work among.
In this community, connecting with the local children through children's ministry is an important part of what we do each day. Teams coming to this community must expect to participate in Kids Club. Experience Mission will provide the curriculum for your teams use. This Kids Club curriculum will be sent out to Team Leaders in the spring via email. Your team may be asked to participate in multiple Kids Clubs and avenues of ministering to children.
Teams will be responsible to bring the craft supplies needed for their specific crafts and should budget appropriately. While we do our best to make sure the craft materials are cost effective, teams may feel free to augment any materials to make them more suitable to their budget. Experience Mission will supply scissors, staplers, paper hole punches and rulers. There are plenty of opportunities to connect with the local children through games like soccer or Frisbee. Tuck in a hackysack, football or jump rope as they are sure to come in handy.
*Experience Mission works closely with local leaders to identify work projects and ministry opportunities that address authentic needs within the community. We ask that you come with a servant's heart and willingness to adapt to the unique qualities represented in each location. Opportunities can vary significantly from one week to the next. Your team may work at one location or serve at multiple locations each day. Due to the changing needs of our community partners, we cannot confirm your specific activities until your team arrives.
Due to staffing limitations and varying school schedules in our community locations, Kids Club and Evening Gathering are not offered during spring break trips. Teams should plan to prepare their own worship and devotional materials for trips from February-May.
Each morning, there is time set aside for devotions and quiet time. This is a valuable time and we strongly encourage all team members to spend it with God, journaling their thoughts and experiences as the days unfold.
Our staff will lead a time of debriefing and a short devotional in the evening (what we call "Evening Gathering") and it is always a great addition to have musical worship. Our programming does not include musical worship as we can't guarantee that our our staff will have this ability. Please let us know if you have anyone who sings or plays guitar on your trip so that we can help to coordinate the musical aspect of worship when able. If teams aren't able to help in the area of music, it may not be a part of the trip.
3-6pm Groups Arrive
5pm - Leader's Meeting
6pm - Dinner
7pm - Orientation Meeting
8:30pm - Team Time (a time for your group alone)
11:30pm - Lights Out
7:15am - Breakfast
7:45am - Devotions and Quiet Time
8:15am - Group Prayer
8:30am - Teams leave for Sites
12pm - Lunch
3:30pm - Finish work for the day
4pm - Break and Clean-up
5pm - Leaders meeting
6pm - Dinner
7pm - Evening Gathering (as a whole group)
8:30pm - Team time
7am - Breakfast
7:30am - Cleanup/ Packing
9am - Pictures and Good-Byes
Description: Teams going to Jackson County will stay at a church, teams will be sleeping on the floor and should plan to bring a mat or air mattress.
Showers: There will be showers for your team.
Bathrooms: There will be bathrooms at the place you stay. Most work sites will have bathrooms. On the occasion that there are no facilities where you are working, teams will need to take breaks midday to use a public restroom.
Water: There is running water in Jackson County. Teams will have access to it where they are staying, and at most work sites. Teams should plan to bring refillable water bottles to stay hydrated at work sites.
Electricity: There is electricity in Jackson County that will be available where teams stay as well as at most work sites.
Security: Jackson County is a safe area in general. The facilities where teams stay will be locked throughout the night and Experience Mission Staff members will do a sweep to make sure the facilities are secure before retiring for the evening. There is minor petty theft in the area. For this reason, we recommend teams leaving all valuables (iPods, computers, jewelry, etc.) at home. If a team does bring some valuables, the best way to keep them safe is to store them in a locked vehicle during the day.
A wonderful team of local cooks, alongside Experience Mission Summer Staff, will be preparing and serving your meals. Breakfast and dinner will be served buffet style, and your team will pack their own lunches each morning. Team members should plan to bring their own plate, bowl, cup and silverware for meals.
Your teams transportation to, from and while in Jackson County, Ohio is not covered. You will need vehicles throughout the entire week to transport your team to various locations for work and ministry. Using a school bus as your main mode of transportation while in this community is not an option. Our work in Jackson County can only accommodate standard 15 passenger vans or smaller.
Wondering what all goes on during our Ohio mission trips? Youíre not alone! Hereís a list of frequently asked questions about this trip.
What age group can you accommodate in Jackson, Ohio?
We can accommodate late elementary and Jr. High/middle school students in this location as well as high school students and adults.
How much do Jackson, Ohio mission trips cost?
The cost for this trip is $375/person for 2019. This includes all lodging, food, staffing, and trip-related expenses. Note that all construction projects are generally provided at no cost to families. Your fees help cover this blessing for homeowners.
What seasons do you offer Ohio mission trips?
Mission trips to Ohio are available during the summer. Check out this list of all available spring break trips if you are looking for trips outside the summer months.
Do you offer spring break trips to Jackson, Ohio?
Spring break trips are currently closed for registrations for 2019. Check back soon for 2020 availability. Check out our spring mission trip locations for all available options.
What will volunteers do on a mission trip to Jackson, Ohio?
Ministry in Jackson, Ohio has a few focuses. Teams can expect to work on home improvement projects with local families and lead a Kids Club through the local summer feeding program. Your team may also volunteer at a local nursing home or food bank.
Will we work with children in Jackson, Ohio?
Yes! Kids Club is a large piece of the outreach focus in Ohio.
What paperwork is required for this mission trip?
Each team member will need to fill out a team member registration form and liability waiver, and all adults are required to pass a background check. Your mission trip support representative will contact you if any other paperwork is required.
Where will my team stay on this trip?
Teams will stay at a church in Jackson, Ohio. Lodging is arranged in vacant classrooms, so plan to bring along air mattresses and sleeping bags for comfort. Showers will be available on location.
How does transportation work during Jackson, Ohio mission trips?
Transportation is entirely up to groups to arrange. We recommend 15 passenger vans and smaller. We donít recommend relying on buses as a mode of transportation for this trip. Keep in mind that groups are often split into teams of 8-12 for construction projects. It works well if you are able to plan transportation accordingly.
When should I arrive?
Check-in is between 3 and 5 PM on the first day of your selected trip. Our staff will be awaiting your arrival. You can expect dinner and an orientation meeting to get you ready for the week that evening as well.
Does EM offer mission trips to any other Appalachia communities?
Yes! We also currently offer Appalachia volunteer trips to McDowell County, West Virginia, Webster Springs, West Virginia and Pike County, Kentucky.
Have more questions about Experience Mission trips? Check out our general FAQs, or call our support team at 888-475-6414.
Experience Mission has specific policies regarding registration and withdrawal. Please refer to the document below for specifics.
All volunteers on a week-long EM mission trip must be part of a team of at least six (6) people, with at least one team member age 21 or older to serve as the Team Leader. Not part of a group? All young adults ages 18-30 are eligible to apply for EMís IMMERSION program.
If you still have questions about this community after reviewing Details & Logistics or you want to take the first step toward bringing your team on an EM mission trip, Fill out a Mission Trip Interest Form and someone from our staff will be in touch with you shortly!
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You must have a group size of at least 6 members to join this trip. Please view the Small Team trips or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.
For most trips, you must have a group size of at least 6 members. Please view the Small Teams tab on each Community page or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.