By: Tina Bryson
PAINTSVILLE, Ky. — The Marion and Thomas Teneralli Housing and Family Advocacy Building was dedicated at the headquarters for Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) in Paintsville, Ky. Aug. 14. The building is the home to programs that serve children and their families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities in Johnson, Martin, and Floyd Counties.
Teneralli grew up desperately poor and while he was stationed in Japan, after the end of World War II, he saw firsthand the devastation of Japanese cities. He witnessed poverty and hunger and would often take food scraps discarded by American soldiers and share them with starving Japanese families and their children.
“I made the stock gift to Christian Appalachian Project because it fulfilled a promise I made to God when I was a young man,” Teneralli said. “I promised God that if I ever made it financially I would help poor children who struggled with poverty daily.”
When he was a child, his family lived in a factory town and he worked on his grandparents’ farm. Teneralli was a house-framing carpenter by trade, but later founded a successful company. He honored his promise to God by giving CAP the largest stock gift by a living donor in its history to meet the needs in Appalachia.
“With his incredible act of generosity, which will impact hundreds of individuals in need in Appalachia, I refer to Mr. Teneralli as “Tom Terrific.” All of us at CAP thank God for Mr. Teneralli’s thoughtfulness and generosity,” said Guy Adams, president/CEO of Christian Appalachian Project. “This gift will enable CAP to continue our work in helping participants with basic needs, as well as repairing and rebuilding substandard homes.”
In 2017, 1,543 individuals received critical, emergency, and family-oriented community service through the Family Advocacy Program and 327 homes were repaired through CAP’s Housing Program. The naming of the building will honor Teneralli and his late wife Marion. Gifts, like those made by Teneralli, will contribute to CAP’s expanded impact in Appalachia for years to come.
Teneralli never forgot his upbringing and in the later years of his life hopes his gift will inspire young people wrestling with poverty in one of America’s poorest regions. “I would tell them don’t spend a lot of time looking down at your feet,” Teneralli said. “Look up toward the horizon. It’s not where you start from in life that matters, but where you want to go and how you want to get there that is important.”
For more information about the mission of Christian Appalachian Project, visit christianapp.org.