RAIL was conjured up by a group of planners who that all issues contributing to poverty in the southern Appalachian coalfields of West Virginia had to be addressed before they could be solved. RAIL would identify six key elements that needed to be taken in to account before they could positively impact the amount of poverty in the area. The responsibility of gathering information to understand the root causes of poverty without a sponsoring organization, and in having only volunteers, was a problem.

With the support of an energetic Mullens City Commission, the Wyoming County School Board, and other entities RAIL began operation in 2001. Despite their enthusiasm and creative ideas, there was little capacity to get things done. The organizers, in search of resources, discovered the AmeriCorps program. Their first VISTA began community development initiatives on September 1, 2002; undertaking the task of transforming the longer needed elementary school building into a community center and business incubator.

The facility had been ravaged by the community’s most devastating flood in its history a year earlier, and although mud had been removed from the building, the first floor ceiling had been replaced, and some painting had been accomplished, much still was required before the facility was fit for human habitation. Several thousand square feet of floor tile had to be replaced, scrubbing, painting, and many hours of drudgery was still needed. RAIL discovered another valuable resource in the AmeriCorps*NCCC program and a team was soon hard at work improving the livability of the old school building that had taken on a new look and name. The facility was named Mullens Opportunity Center.

A year later RAIL was awarded their second AmeriCorps*NCCC team that continued efforts to make the MOC more conducive to community activities. During the third year of operation, RAIL was awarded its second and third VISTA. Volunteers continued the management and building of the organization. Since its founding, twenty AmeriCorps*VISTAs have provided capacity to develop RAIL as an organization, and have helped to plan, as well as implement programs in the Mullens area. Feel free to click here, or explore the “Programs” drop down menu for more information.

Click Here to read an article from the Register-Herald Online about RAIL.

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Volunteers are a vital part of RAIL's success. We are SEEKING VOLUNTEERS! Please contact us if you want to make a difference and join our remarkable work teams.

In September 2010 RAIL volunteers began initiating a plan to invigorate Community and Economic development in the southern coalfields of West Virginia. In the past ten years RAIL has studied the needs of families in Appalachia as well as available resources and other accessible opportunities that can help their community become sustainable. Gaining a better understanding of what is needed has culminated in the Coal Heritage Trail of New Commerce Action Plan. Those implementing this plan, an organization at the grass roots, well understand their work cannot be successful without the help of volunteers and generous resources providers. Anyone interested in participating in this bold undertaking of helping families living in the Appalachian coalfields improve their economic and social conditions may contact for more information. RAIL gets its name from Rural Appalachian Improvement League, Inc. and can best be described as Volunteers coming together as an organization to find ways to best benefit their community

March 18, 2011

Alternative Spring Break
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