Local youth at the Yellow Door at Hampton, a community building tailored to give middle and high school students a safe place to gather.

Help build hope for local youth at Appalachian Impact’s ‘A Masquerade in Yellow’ gala

BUCKHANNON — Appalachian Impact’s second annual Gala, “A Masquerade in Yellow,” is just around the corner, and it promises to be a night of elegance, entertainment and philanthropy. Hosted by Appalachian Impact, a nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing hope among at-risk students in North Central West Virginia through mentoring and youth programming, this event serves as a crucial fundraiser to support their cause.

A commitment to building hope for young individuals in their community has been the driving force behind Appalachian Impact since its inception. In 2012, Justin Bowers and his wife returned to their hometown, Buckhannon, where they founded the nonprofit. Their vision was clear: to uplift students by providing them with positive mentors and youth-focused programs.

“The vision was to build hope for our students,” Bowers said. “For several years we did that through one-to-one mentoring. We trained mentors and deployed them into the schools to partner with a student that principals, counselors, teachers help us identify, and they spent time every week with that student.”

However, as with many organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted their plans.

“COVID happened,” Bowers said. “It killed pretty much everything, and we’ve been rebuilding since then.”

Despite the challenges, they adapted and, most notably, established The Yellow Door at Hampton, a community building tailored for middle and high school students. The Upshur County Commission owns the property and agreed to lease it to the nonprofit a couple of years ago.

“We lease it for a dollar a year and were given the opportunity to fix it up,” Bowers explained. “It was really in rough shape, but we’ve renovated it, and we called it The Yellow Door, which kind of goes with the whole theme of hope. Appalachian Impact has always been about building hope for at-risk students.”

“The first gala came out of that, as a fundraiser idea for the renovation of the building,” Bowers added.

The first fundraising gala, held last year, raised more than $10,000 in one night. This year, on October 7, from 6 p.m. to midnight, the gala “A Masquerade in Yellow” will take place at the Daily Grind Outpost and Event Center. Tickets are available for $50 for individuals and $90 for couples, with various sponsorship options. You can purchase tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-masquerade-in-yellow-appalachian-impact-gala-tickets-660496782657

Bowers emphasized that this year’s funds will not be solely allocated to building renovations, as the Yellow Door is now functional. Instead, the focus will shift towards programming for students, as well as building upgrades. This encompasses various activities such as coffee house events, outdoor experiences and equipping the center with resources that can enrich the lives of the young participants.

Bowers added that the Appalachian Impact community is grateful for its corporate sponsors, including Novellus and Allegheny Science and Technology, whose support has been invaluable in fulfilling their mission.

In closing, Justin Bowers extended a warm invitation to those interested in becoming mentors to reach out and join their cause.

“Anybody who wants to get involved as a mentor is welcome to reach out and contact me,” he said. “We would love to train them and get them connected to a student.”

The second annual Gala, “A Masquerade in Yellow,” promises an enchanting evening dedicated to uplifting the lives of at-risk students in North Central West Virginia. You can learn more about Appalachian Impact by visiting their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/appimpactbu.

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