The result is the House That Love Built.
The House That Love Built is in Aracoma, on a narrow road across from the Family Dollar. It’s a beige one-story with a porch. But the most important feature is the ramp.
The home’s new inhabitants—Zett Coleman and her sister Linda Cowen—are disabled. In their old house, they couldn’t navigate the rickety steps down the hill by themselves.
Coleman operated the elevator at the White and Browning Building in downtown Logan for years. Everyone in the community knows her.
But this story goes beyond some simple home construction. When a young black girl was held hostage and tortured by white people in 2007 in a rural part of Logan County, the small coalfield community was shocked.
The incident tore a hole in the community’s fabric, and local leaders searched for a way to fix the damage.
Beth Spence works for the Appalachian Center for Equality, a project of the American Friends Service Committee.
“We held a candlelight vigil, but then we wanted to do something that would be more permanent,” she said. “A project that would allow people to come together, across race lines, across class lines, to do something good and positive for our community.
“We’d seen what hate can do; we wanted to show what love can do.”
So they built a house, and decided Coleman was a worthy recipient.
For the past year, intermittently, community members have been working on the home. All of the labor was done by volunteers, and some of the construction supplies were donated.
Ron Jones is the director of the Appalachian Center for Equality.
“Here it was just amazing how the closer we got to the end of the project, you could step back and see that the community itself was starting to take ownership of this particular project,” he said.
He says on the day Coleman moved into the home, the ambulance went to pick her up. The news that the ambulance was on its way went out on the police scanner.
“We were there at the house and you should have seen the community!” he said. “People started coming out, picking up garbage, just doing things so Zett’s first time to the house, first time to the community would be a positive experience.”
Both Jones and Spence say this truly was a community project. 90 percent of the volunteers were local. In a community that’s seen its share of out-of-town work groups, people took pride in the fact that locals were working to help their neighbors.
“I think it gave people an opportunity to show what a good, caring community this is, and that was important for the community in the aftermath of [the hostage incident],” she said. “Because that was done by a few people, it wasn’t done by a whole community. But it injured a lot of people in addition to Megan Williams.”
Now, Coleman is still working on getting moved into her new home. She says there are still pictures to be hung on the walls, but she feels like she’s home.
“It’s so beautiful and so wonderful that people come together and do things for you,” she said. “It certainly has its right name, House of Love, because it had to be love for someone to come together to do like they did. And I certainly appreciate it.”
There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at the House That Love Built Saturday at 11am, followed by a free concert at the Word of Life Church.