About McDowell County

Once a thriving community, McDowell County spiraled downhill from 1950 to 2000. In that time the population decreased by nearly 75%. By the year 2000 the community had little hope, schools were failing both physically and academically and intervention was needed to avoid a complete collapse of the community. It came in the form of state aid which brought needed repairs and resources to the crippled school system. Out of that intervention, hope began to grow. Less than a year later those hopes were dashed with two back-to-back devastating flood seasons that wiped out many of the small towns in the county. Several people died or disappeared altogether in the floods and entire towns were demolished. McDowell County residents are working their way out of these challenges with a new resolve to repair their community. “Come Grow with Us” was the motto adopted in 2005 to demonstrate the county’s desire for growth and rebirth after significantly challenging times. In this area of approximately 27,000 residents, the unemployment rate hovers around 11% and the median household income is nearly $25,000 less per year than the national average. The poverty rate remains around 32% of the population. The community has seen some growth and success, particularly with the opening of many new businesses in the area, creating employment opportunities for residents. Growth happens slowly but this community is seeing change and experiencing hope.

Serving in McDowell County

• Partner with local organizations to meet ongoing needs in the community.
• Serve the community through painting, cleaning, yard work or other simple work projects.
• Students will serve for half of the week doing work projects. During the other half of the week you may serve at a food shelf, clothing distribution center, soup kitchen, or elderly care facilities.

Community Experience

In McDowell County your group will have the opportunity to serve through facilitated work projects. Work projects may include home repair projects including weatherization, dry walling, skirting, underpinning, and building porches and wheelchair ramps. You will also partner with local service organizations that are already doing great work in the community. In addition to serving, you will be learning about the community during the week through the residents of McDowell County as they share their stories and experiences with you.

YouthWorks Relationship

Since 2013, YouthWorks has partnered and housed with Community Crossing, which empowers families in McDowell County and alleviates issues causing fatherlessness.