Community gives Henry County man living with no electricity, water a new home

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HENRY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) This might be hard to believe in 2017, but a man in Henry County has been living without indoor plumbing or electricity.

That is until some caring people in his community and Total Action for Progress, or TAP, stepped in to help.

Since birth, 69-year-old Vernon Gilbert, known by everyone as Koonny Frog, lived in an old wheat-packing house. He says he, and his family, made it work.

"It was rough, but I made it. I didn't let a thing bother me, a whole lot of people do, I don't. I still don't let nothing bother me," says Gilbert.

After several falls and health scares, the Mountain Valley community wanted to help him.

"The whole community worked together and the whole community has been here for him because he's been here for the community all his life," says one of Gilbert's neighbors, Lucille Shelton.

A number of services and materials were donated by the community, including the land.

"We've had this land for so long and it would have done him a lot more good than it did me and made us happy to do it," says Shelton.

Then, the community contacted TAP about their Indoor Plumbing Rehabilitation program.

"People that still don't have bathroom facilities. They're using an outhouse or they're going outside," says Liz Puckett with Total Action for Progress.

TAP built Gilbert a brand new home, complete with solar panels to cut down on utility bills, and amenities he's never had before: running water and electricity.

Koonny Frog moved in to his new pad last month.

He says it took some getting used to, especially driving home from church the first time.

"I guess I was going too fast up here and I forgot where I lived and I had to go down to that mailbox and turn around and come back. I missed the road," says Gilbert.

Gilbert says he's grateful to his community and knows they will always look out for him.