The Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS) is a Fahe member located in Kincaid, WV that works to provide empowerment and change for working class and disenfranchised peoples. Housing plays a large part in their mission.
While they do assist in building new homes, repairs and weatherization projects are quite common and help to make a huge difference in the lives of the families.
One such family helped by SALS is Sam and Carol Davis. They are an elderly couple that was living in an older, poorly insulated house heated by a wood stove. As they grow older, the Davis’s find it harder to maintain upkeep on the house and they find their summers taken up by preparing wood for the hard winters.
SALS was able to come in and make a huge difference in their lives through their Senior Weatherization program. We are lucky to have not only the Davis’s story but also a written gratitude from Carol Davis describing her experience with the process.
THE DAVIS STORY
My husband, Sam, and I bought the house in 1970 and have lived here since then. We were both born in WV and love it here. This is where our roots are. We moved out of state a couple of times in the early years of our marriage, mainly because of the job situation in WV, but when the opportunity arose, we moved back. It’s been a struggle at times, but we wouldn’t want to live any place else.
We have three boys, all grown and married with children. We have 11 grandchildren and a great grand child. Our oldest son lives in Oak Hill, WV, our middle son lives in NC, and our youngest son lives in Fayetteville, WV.
Sam is retired. He was a welder and worked on heavy equipment for different coal mining companies.
I am a homemaker, so I’m not retired! We both love to fish and hunt. We have a vegetable garden and I have a flower garden. We attend Church on a regular basis.
Although we had tried to keep our home in good condition, always doing the work ourselves, there were some things that we just couldn’t afford to do. We had a wood stove and had always cut all of our wood for the winter. As we aged, it was getting harder and harder to do. Our house is probably over 100 yrs. old. It has a very strong and sturdy foundation, but very little insulation or storm windows.
We heard about SALS through a family member. We filed an application and found out that we were eligible for help through their senior weatherization and home improvement programs. We were hoping to qualify for central heating and possibly vinyl siding.
Not only did we get a new heating system and siding, we also got new windows and insulation. On top of that, they built a wonderful sidewalk at the back that runs the whole length of the house. We can bring our groceries in the back door and not have to carry them up the 31 steps at the front of our house.
It took about a month from start to finish. SALS did most of the work and two groups of volunteers helped. Crown Windows made and installed the windows while Mark Shockey did most of the siding.
We thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed all the work and workers that made our home more comfortable and a lot easier to maintain. I love to cook and I was able to make lunch for the workers. We even had a little birthday party for one of them who came from out of state and couldn’t be with his family for his birthday. They were so appreciative, respectful and kind.
I feel we have made lifetime friends through the program. We have corresponded with some of the ones from other states. One of the young women is a missionary to an orphanage in Romania and we have kept in touch with each other.
We are enjoying not having to cut wood all summer to be able to keep warm in the winter. Our home is affordable thanks to the insulation and new windows. It is much more energy efficient and convenient.
All of this enriched our lives and I hope we made a lasting impression on some of the workers.
I especially want to thank Vickie Smith and Barbara Painter for being instrumental in the process.
The Davis’s story is not unique. There are thousands of families in need of better housing and transformative services across Appalachia. SALS and other Fahe members work hard to ensure that people have the opportunity for better lives.
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