By , August 26, 2003

Six months after a widow in her 70’s came to the Appalachian Dream Center for assistance, her house has been completely torn down and rebuilt. During the Christmas holidays, an elderly woman came to ADC for a little assistance and fellowship. Shortly after meeting her, the staff became aware of the conditions she lived.
Thirty years ago, this woman and her husband had built a small house on the side of a mountain. Literally, one corner of the backside of the house touched the mountain and the other side hung off the edge of the mountain. Together they built this home they would raise their children in and share many wonderful memories. Since the death of her husband, the house had begun to deteriorate and with each passing year it became increasingly difficult for this widow to make the repairs.

The house that she had literally built with her own hands was now a dangerous and hazardous place to live. She had no driveway or sidewalk to the house as the bushes and undergrowth had taken over. There was no grass or flowers in the yard. However, she did have a large pile of coal and an old well house in the front yard.

Two very old coal stoves provided her only heat. Her water pipes were rusty and the water had a brownish yellowy hue, not to mention the odor of sulfur. Yet, through all of the poverty and despair, this widow never complained. In fact, she was surprised when Michael Hartwell, Director, ADC, told her of their intention to rebuild her house.

For the next few weeks, Michael Hartwell contact several churches that would partner in this ambitious project. Then, Fred Lee from Princeton Pike Church of God in Hamilton, Ohio called looking for a project for his men to become involved. Without much discussion Fred Lee scheduled his men to start the process of demolition and reconstruction.

The house was completely dismantled down to the foundation. Everything had to go! Then, the reconstruction process began. New floor joists, new floor, new studs and walls, new trusses for the new roof and new ceiling. Everything old was replaced with new. During the difficult winter months, men would visit the site and work on the next phase.

When Princeton Pike completed their tasks, another church came onboard to add another phase. The Potter’s House Worship Center, Harrisonburg, VA, joined the project during the winter. They had the pleasure of putting the vinyl siding on the house in some of the coldest weather in the history of West Virginia. With lots of hot coffee, these men endured short, cold days to place all the siding and outside finishing touches on this “new” house.

Throughout the weeks and months ahead, these two churches traveled back and forth to finish their assigned tasks. While at the home front, the Verdunville Church of God, pastured by Michael Hartwell, kept the materials on the job site. The faithful men and women of this local church kept coffee and hot food available to the work crews. Of course, they were not only involved as a support group. These wonderful people spend many days on the job with the visiting crews.

What many people did not realize about the Verdunville Church was the fact that they worked on the house without crews from other churches. This widow’s house became their project throughout the winter and early spring. In fact, even now, they are helping this widow with many of her daily chores.

Now, six months after the first board was removed from the house, a new house sits beautifully adorned on that narrow mountain lot. Instead of two coal stoves, there is central heat and air conditioning; instead of a coal pile and well house, there is green grass; instead of windows replaced with cardboard of plastic, there are new insulated double hung windows; instead of three cement blocks leading to the front door, there is a nice porch with flowers; instead of a narrow walking path, there is a new driveway from the road to the house. In the back, one side of the house still touched the mountain and the other side hung off the edge but now everything in between was new!

What a difference thirty men and women, $25,000 in material and six months of time can make in the life of one widow! Michael Hartwell has a dream for the people he serves. One by one, through Hartwell’s determination, ADC is making an impact in Appalachia. Fighting back the tears, Hartwell said, “I have a burden to serve this region. Somehow, someway God will provide as we move from one project to another.”

Anyone interested in becoming a financial partner, donating products or providing a corporate lead may contact:

Operation Compassion
Dr. John D. Nichols, President
David Lorency, International Field Director
Tim Burdashaw, Communications & Development

114 Stuart Road, NE Suite 370
Cleveland, TN 37312
423.728.3932 Office
423.728.3958 Fax

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