Dave Kreher speaking at a People's Self Help Housing event.

Longtime Fahe Member Offers a Reflection on Fahe’s 40th Anniversary

appalachia, Housing | October 14, 2020

Today’s blog was contributed by longtime friend of Fahe Dave Kreher. People’s Self-Help Housing, Inc. (PSHH) was incorporated in Lewis County, KY in 1982 and became a Fahe member in 1983.  Since becoming PSHH’s Executive Director in 1985, Dave Kreher has been an active member, serving on the Fahe Board of Directors for 13 years and two years as Board Chair. 

As milestone anniversaries approach, we tend to pause and reflect.  A couple soon to celebrate a 40th wedding anniversary leads to younger family members inquiring how this loving union came about.  Stories are told, boxes of old photos are retrieved, examined and shared with one another.  Others reflect on some of the trials and tribulations that, in hindsight, reshaped and strengthened the bond.  Looking back through the years, common threads weaved into a living fabric are often identified and celebrated as their unique family history.  As everyone celebrates the milestone, they also focus on what is possible in the future as this living fabric will continue to be woven and shaped by those who come after us.

A couple of weeks ago, staff, Members and partners celebrated Fahe’s 40th anniversary with a three-day virtual gathering.  Planning for the celebration began a year prior.  Fahe staff began digging into the archives, pulling out old photos and documents to trace the organization’s history and development.   Fahe Members did the same, evoking lots of memories and stories. “Look how young we were!” was a common response.  Decade by decade posters with timelines noting significant events and featuring corresponding photos were created by Fahe staff and then shared with Members and partners.  The noted events included not only successes, but also the challenges that reshaped and strengthened Fahe and the Member organizations.

Celebrating Fahe’s milestone was a time for us to pause and reflect.  Fifty-two nonprofit housing members, united, yet scattered throughout six states in central Appalachia.  How did this union get started 40 years ago in such a remote region stretching into several states that even today lacks adequate connectivity?  A founding member recalled the who, what, when, and why of Fahe’s formation.  Another spoke of the early years and pivotal developments in Fahe’s growth. 

Three common threads of Fahe’s fabric can be traced to the organization’s very beginnings.  The first thread is the relationships developed and nurtured among caring individuals with a mission of improving housing for those living in poverty in central Appalachia.  The resulting relationships have created and sustained a Fahe family spirit through four decades. A second thread, collaboration, has been interwoven into the Fahe fabric as members share their successes and challenges in the face of what often seems insurmountable and overwhelming problems.  The third thread, Fahe’s collective voice, binds together the individual fibers of members and staff, seamlessly weaving a resilient fabric to address the ever broadening persistent needs surrounding us and securing the funding to make an impact on alleviating them.  

Our individual and collective Fahe family spirit has continued to blossom through the years, even permeating the limitations of a virtual only 40th celebration instead of the usual comradery of an annual in-person gathering.  Looking ahead, Fahe’s “Strength in Numbers” and its resilient fabric will continue to expand the search for just solutions to lift families out of poverty, improve economic stability, and unravel structural inequalities in our nation.  Given how far we’ve come in Fahe’s first 40 years undoubtedly fuels our imagination and dreams on how far we can go!

We are Fahe, celebrating our own unique family history and reaching for the stars!

Visit Fahe’s 40th anniversary page to view a timeline of Fahe’s history as well as videos from the Membership celebrating this important milestone.