In 1922, Friends Drew Pearson and Walter Abel visited West Virginia in response to appeals for emergency relief. AFSC was young—barely five years old—but it had already amassed an impressive record in relieving human suffering.
The results of their investigation were published in an AFSC pamphlet titled Personality and Coal in West Virginia. They reported that "We are satisfied by our investigations that there is widespread destitution, and much need of relief, among the families of the miners.”
West Virginia Economic Justice Project program coordinator Beth Spence began working for AFSC in WV in 2002, but her connection goes back decades farther. A Logan, WV native and longtime collaborator with the AFSC program there, she did pioneering work on rural homelessness. She also helped the new Economic Justice Project get started in 1989.
AFSC’s West Virginia Economic Justice (WVEJ) program won a major victory in the 2014 state legislative session with the passage of a measure establishing a Future Fund, a permanent mineral trust fund created from a portion of natural resource severance taxes. “This is a campaign we’ve worked on with key allies for about four years,” WVEJ Director Rick Wilson said. “The bill is not perfect because it was amended and weakened late in the session, but we hope to strengthen it next year.
Last week a friend and I visited the memorial dedicated to the miners who were killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster. The massive 48-foot granite structure with 29 ghostly silhouettes is a powerful tribute to the lost miners and to the industry that has been so dominant in the Appalachian region.
Carrying enlarged photographs of their lost loved ones, family members of three of the 29 miners killed in the 2010 explosion at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine spent June 6-7 in Washington, D.C., pleading with lawmakers to take action to improve mine safety and to stiffen penalties for mining companies that knowingly, willingly, and recklessly place miners’ lives at risk.
During their summer break, students from the ACE mentoring program in Logan County toured Southern Community and Technical College where they learned about all the different college options available right in their backyard. After the tour, we took a trip over the mountain to Blair Community Center and Museum. The students learned about the historic labor struggle known as the Battle of Blair Mountain, coal mining's effect on water quality, and what life was like in the coal camps of Logan County.
Who we are
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.