Appalachian Children’s Home: Field of Dreams

Nearing their diamond 65th anniversary, the Appalachian Children’s Home (501 c 3 non-profit) has experienced a change-up that enables the entire ACH team to go extra innings in the practice of helping kids. In past seasons — namely 2001 — ACH was in danger of striking out. The outlook was dismal with only $210.00 in the ACH checking account in addition to state and federal seizure notices (due to unpaid payroll taxes) amounting to a ballpark debt figure of $100,000.00 with penalties.

ACH needed an ace and they found him in Steve Yeary. Steve accepted the position of President at ACH and put nearly $45,000 of his family’s money to pay past due bills. Yeary set the children’s home up to score by forming “fee for services” contracts in 2001 that still sustain the home today. Yeary then began pitching his vision for ACH to churches and individuals.

Prior to 2001, $35,000 was the most successful financial year the home ever had. Within his first year of play as President of ACH, Yeary had procured $600,000 in receivables. Today Appalachian Children’s Home is in a league of their own with a budget of $2.9 million including an annual audit review of finances. All donations go to resident children’s needs.

ACH holds 2 state licenses — long-term care residential and an emergency shelter — additionally they are nationally and internationally accredited by the Council on Quality & Leadership. 2009 was a pennant year as ACH was voted nonprofit of the year by the Kentucky Highlands Corporation, Eastern Kentucky University, and The Center for Rural Development.

Appalachian Children’s Home accepts kids from every county in Kentucky between the ages of 11 and 18. Every child is referred to ACH by social services. Bases are loaded at ACH with 53 staff team members and up to 52 child residents. Knox Appalachian School is a public school located on the ACH campus. It is staffed by 5 full-time teachers and a Title I Coordinator. ACH/Knox Appalachian School was the pilot program for the Plato learning system and each student has their own individual I-Pad. Students work on a curriculum based entirely on their learning need and ability.

This new season at ACH allows all players to step up to the plate! ACH’s 150 acre campus includes a 2 acre stocked fishing pond, a nationally licensed horseback riding instructor and 4 Tennessee Walking Horses. Students from Eastern Kentucky University, Union College, and Lincoln Memorial University complete internships each semester on the Appalachian Children’s Home team roster. Many former ACH residents have gone on to become teachers, state government officials, business leaders, pastors and other various professional occupations. Winning Streak? Even a rookie can recognize the strategy of a champion work ethic. Go team ACH!

Photo: Appalachian Children’s Home Staff Leader Group 2013

“I’ve learned to call things as I see them. My philosophy of life is simple, with a vital, driving force: I believe in my God, my family, my country, and baseball. Including baseball may seem out of place in this statement, but I firmly believe that baseball, more than being just a national pastime, has been officially bound up with American life, certainly with my own. It helped develop me physically as a boy. It taught me teamwork and an ability to cooperate with others. Another thing, it taught me to try to play according to the rules of the game. This has helped me throughout life.” -Umpire Ralph “Babe” Pinelli

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