There’s a lot to love about working with our Turn This Town Around communities, but what’s happening right now is particularly special.
Last month we announced the recipients of the $2,500 mini grants that will provide that vital kickstart to 45 grassroots projects in Ripley and Whitesville.
These projects represent dreams both modest and outsized. Some of them have very simple and immediate goals – beautifying a crosswalk. Others have bigger achievements in mind – creating a regional recreation tourism attraction.
But what they all have in common is that they were ideas that came from the people that live in these communities. The Hub is proud to have been there to help develop some organization and planning around those ideas, and, now, to pass on funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation in the form of these mini grants to start making these ideas real.
A lot of the projects have already started and some of them have even been completed. It is fun to watch the groups talk about what’s next – sometimes I don’t even think they realize they are doing it. That kind of optimism and excitement about the future has almost become like second nature to them now, and that’s a great sign.
Here’s just a few of the mini-grant projects worth mentioning…
- Art installation in the park.
- Family adventure night.
- “Windows Into the Past.” This historic walking tour is a creative way to dress up abandoned building windows and share local history.
- Clear Fork Coal Heritage Rail Trail. This is Whitesville’s bold, transformational project, for which Benedum have provided seed funding to develop further.
- Food pantry. Milton Bennett and his team provide food to between 300 and 600 people each month. This mini-grant will help them bolster their operation with new equipment. I am looking forward to visiting the food pantry the next time I am in Ripley and learning more about the facility.
- Nostalgic business mural. This is a mural with a difference! The mural will consist of seven depictions of past businesses – businesses that people still reminisce about today.
- Mobile open air market.
- Where are you on the grid. The funding will help create a math and science outdoor area that will allow kids to bury fossils at different coordinates so their friends can then go on a search for the fossils. A little digging will uncover the buried treasure and the participants will experience real mathematical and archeological processes in a new and exciting way.
I have been working in Ripley and Whitesville for 10 months now and I can honestly say I have seen a difference in both communities, not just cosmetic differences, but a difference in the way the community members think and the way they interact with each other.
They are working together!
Thank you so much to the folks of Ripley and Whitesville for welcoming me into their communities with open arms, and treating me as if I were one of their own.