"Look what people can do when they join hands, when they stand shoulder to shoulder and work together and do so in a loving and kind way." Thus Clinton Pettus, deputy general secretary for programs of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), spoke for all who attended the July 25 dedication of a  Logan County, WV, house volunteers built for two disabled sisters.

The dedication of The House that Love Built was the culmination of a two-year project sponsored by AFSC’s Appalachian Center for Equality (ACE) and the Logan County Improvement League.  The project was inspired in response to the 2007 attack on Megan Williams, a young black woman who was held captive, raped and tortured by six white people in Logan County.

“Some of us felt that this entire county… was going to be associated with hate,” said Clinton Pettus. “We felt it was important to show the world that while some people engage in behaviors we don’t like, it is also important to be able to let people put some energy into something constructive. I do believe this is Exhibit A of something that grew out of love.” League president Rev. Gerald Dotson agreed, saying, “This … community came together, and in love and compassion and in sacrifice, did something to help a family that really needed a house.”

Zett Coleman and Linda Cowan, and Zett Coleman’s grandson, Marcus, moved into the house earlier this month.

The Coleman family was selected because “they lived on a steep hill and the steps to it had deteriorated to the point that the sisters were essentially prisoners in their own home,” said Ron Jones, ACE director. “The house would have eventually deteriorated to a point where they couldn’t live in it, just because they were unable to keep up with maintenance.”

Such impoverished seniors living in unsafe conditions represent an invisible homelessness in Appalachia, he said, adding that hopefully this project will be a model for other future projects.
When Zett Coleman spoke, she expressed gratitude to everyone who contributed in any way to the house.

“It’s so beautiful and so wonderful that people come together and do things for you. It certainly has its right name, House of Love, because it had to be love for (people) to come together to do like they did. And I certainly appreciate it.”

Watch the House that Love Built construction.

Listen to a West Virginia Public Radio story that talks about the community healing through this volunteer project.