Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Housing in rural Appalachia gets a helping hand in memory of a Virginia Tech victim

This poignant story on the eve of the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre is a reminder of the poor conditions in which so many rural Americans live.

The program featured in this story is Appalachian Service Project (ASP), which is now being endorsed by Bryan and Renee Cloyd, parents of slain Virginia Tech student Austin Cloyd. Cloyd had participated in four, week-long work projects with the program, which repairs dilapidated houses in Appalachia. Upon her death, Austin Cloyd's parents asked that donations be made in her honor to the program, and some $70K came in almost immediately. They realized they were on to something, and they have since escorted 150 Virginia Tech students and faculty on week-end house repair trips.

Austin's father said his daughter's experiences with ASP shaped her goals and that he is now honoring her passion for social justice. A Virginia Tech accounting professor, he comments about those who died there a year ago: "They should be known for how they lived rather than how they died." Thanks to the Cloyds' efforts, many residents of Appalachia will reap the rewards of that legacy.

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