Ms. Matthews is a grandmother on a fixed income and takes care of her grandchildren.

She saved up enough funds to repair her roof, but did not have enough to complete her ceiling or floors, and she needed a safe porch.

So many people ask, how can I help Ms. Matthews and others in her situation? How can I help her make her home warm, safe and dry?

Each year, Alabama Rural Ministry (ARM) staff goes into shacks that replicate what living in substandard housing looks like. It connects people with this struggle and creates pathways to help by both giving and volunteering to serve.

So, how does "The Shack" project work?

I will stay in a small shack for several days battling the elements. My shack will have open windows, a roof that will leak and will need small plastic bags stuffed in holes to insulate. It has enough room for a small mattress.

I'll be living in it 24/7 and using the time to talk to people, post information and host poverty education workshops.

Next to my shack is another where community leaders can give their time in three-hour blocks to help with the fundraising. Each shack dweller is asked to help raise $2,000 while they sit with me.

Some of the shack dwellers will also sleep overnight.

ARM's goal is $125,000 to get Ms. Matthews out of the shack. These funds will help repair her home and several more in Alabama. 

I will be hanging out at the shack in front of the Auburn Wesley Foundation (131 S. Gay Street) beginning Sept. 26 and will remain as late as Oct. 1. Whether rain, shine, heat or cold, I'll be there day and night ready to talk with community members about how we can work together to end poverty housing in rural Alabama.

Bring some friends, your Sunday School class, your family, your small group, or just yourself! 

Feel free to bring your kids along when you visit me! With a $5 donation, they can get a free paintbrush to use right away as they help beautify the shack!

It’s a great way to help kids understand serving others and some of the harsh conditions others may face.

Auburn Mayor Ron Anders and Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller will also be coming to spend some time in the shacks. Several of ARM’s board members, local ministry leaders, and community leaders will also be there!

If you would like to sit for a few hours, email me at


Lisa Pierce is the executive director of Alabama Rural Ministry and ordained as a deacon in the United Methodist Church. She is an Auburn University alum who loves working with people in rural communities and learning of their amazing stories.

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