The pride of ownership was evident as we stepped through the front door of Mrs. Lund’s* home in Sneedville, Tennessee. Where last year the floor was buckling in, the roof was leaking, and the kitchen unusable, today the widowed mother and her ailing daughter could safely cook meals again and relax in their tiny living room – adorned with pictures from generations of coal mining relatives. Her eyes welled with tears as she said “Thank You.”
In War, West Virginia, Miss Lucy* wanted to give us some greens from her own garden as thanks. This remarkable 58-year-old woman, using the pole of a vacuum cleaner as a cane, could now tend her garden a bit – and grow an amazing array of vegetables on a compact and steeply-sloped garden – because of the handicap ramp built with funds from American Helping Americans®. The new ramp and stairs extend from her back door to the plot, and for the first time in a long time, Miss Lucy, who lives alone, could step outside and tend to her greens.
As we drove the many miles between Mrs. Lund’s and Miss Lucy’s humble homes, we saw so much devastating poverty. Around each corner stood homes in tremendous states of disrepair.
Former coal miners’ homes – some nearly 100 years old – all wood framed and poorly insulated…and most still “in the family” as the families have no alternate housing options.
For most of us, a roof repair is simply a matter of calling a contractor, or making a trip to the local lumber store. But for hundreds, if not thousands, of families in rural West Virginia, Tennessee and elsewhere in Appalachia, it is a matter of months, or even years for help to arrive.
We asked our local partners what was needed. Supplies! Funding for supplies! So, in response, in the coming months, we will be working to fund the repair and rebuilding of hundreds of homes.
*names have been changed to protect privacy.