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BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – A natural disaster can destroy a lot — homes, possessions, and hope.

Austin Shuck with the Appalachian Pioneer Program said he wants to try to give that back.

“Having had that feeling of helplessness, I was like, ‘alright there’s a lot of people in my community that are having this sense of needing help,’” Shuck said.

In the spring of 2021 Breathitt County was hit hard when floodwaters ripped through the community. Cathy Salyers had her home destroyed and shortly after that, her husband died.

“We did a music event in March and we were able to raise almost $7,000 and then it took a really long time to get it approved by the IRS and the Secretary of State to be approved as a nonprofit. So as soon as we got that I started talking to Cathy and trying to set up an opportunity for us to meet,” Shuck said.

Shuck presented Salyers with a check for $6,550 and committed to sending her college-aged daughter a $500 gift card to help with expenses.

“I just wanted to let her know that, hey there are some people in your community that care about you and want to be there for you even though you’re going through this moment of tragedy, like, here is some hope,” Shuck said.

Shuck said he can relate in some way to what the Salyers went through. In 2012 a tornado destroyed his family’s home and everything they had, but his community rallied behind them, and that is what inspires him today.

“The moment when the community showed up to be there for us really, I told myself in that moment that at some point I was going to pay it forward whatever I had to do,” Shuck said.

This donation to Salyers is just part of his mission to pay it back.

“Maybe by us doing this, something will happen in your community and you’ll remember that time when someone went above and beyond to be there for you and then you can be there for them,” Shuck said.

An act of kindness that can grow and grow.