A Porch for Norma: Dreams Realized in Breathitt County

Posted by Spalding Hurst

September 15, 2023

Sometimes, the most straightforward dreams bear the most profound significance. Tucked away in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, amid rolling hills and winding rivers, is the small town of Jackson, Kentucky. Here, the embodiment of a simple dream took shape as a porch carrying stories of hope, resilience, and community spirit.

Last spring, Breathitt County witnessed flooding that can best be described as historic. As is so often the case after natural disasters, in stepped the volunteers, people driven by compassion and a desire to rebuild. The Breathitt County Library became more than just a haven for books. It became a lifeline for many, functioning as the primary distribution center for relief supplies.

It was during this critical time that a library staff member reached out with a request that was both unique and deeply personal. Her sister, Norma, lived in a trailer at the town’s edge. The flooding further devastated the wooden steps outside her home, already battered by time and use. But what Norma longed for wasn’t just new steps. She envisioned a porch.

Norma’s dream was simple yet profound. A porch would mean security from future floods, a shelter from the unpredictable Kentucky weather, and a place to sit, reflect, and reconnect with the world outside.

Enter the Disaster Relief volunteers from Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Their mission was clear, and they tackled it with enthusiasm. Within 48 hours of their arrival, the sawing, hammering, and painting culminated in the porch of Norma’s dreams. The finished structure was more than just wood and nails; it symbolized what can be achieved when a community comes together.

These dedicated individuals from the lay mission volunteer program have transformed not just Norma’s home but also her life. They’ve shown that dreams, no matter how small, have value. And in the process, they’ve put out an open invitation to those with similar compassion and drive.

Norma’s porch serves as a symbol of hope for Jackson and its residents. It reminds us that dreams can become reality even in the face of adversity.

For those inspired by this story, opportunities are abound. Sister Luke welcomes all willing hands and hearts. After all, the next porch, the next dream, the next Norma, might be around the corner.

Visit https://nazareth.org/volunteer to learn more. For more photos, click here.


  1. Anni Donahue

    To the volunteers of the the SCN Disaster Relief who built Norma ‘s porch, what you did was so kind and giving. You are true Supermen!

  2. Christine Beckett

    Another miracle provided by our volunteers! Thank you all so much for this gift of new life for Norma and her loved ones. And, how this/these expressions of love and care change lives in significant and graced ways–as well as build stronger relationships!!! Again, many thanks!!!

  3. Linda Soltis

    What a wonderful group of strong,talented men who are using their skills to make Norma ‘s life better. Having a porch to sit out is a simple yet profound joy that makes life so much more enjoyable.

  4. Anne Magruder

    Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, Norma’s dream became a reality.
    Our volunteers really know how to spread joy in our world!

  5. S. Luke

    It was a sheer joy to companion these wonderful volunteers to Jackson.
    These men are absolutely the best.
    They give of their time and energy so generously.


  6. Brenda Gonzales

    Thank you for reaching out and sharing your skills for Norma’s dream to be realized!

  7. Maggie Cooper

    Wow! How wonderful to create a new porch for Norma. It will surely make her live better. That’s another great project of this wonderful Disaster Relief crew! How wonderful!


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