Appalachian Impact director Dr. Justin Bowers updates the commission on the group's progress on revitalizing the Hampton community building. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Nonprofit youth mentoring group plans to host Oct. 16 gala that will raise money to restore Hampton Community Building

BUCKHANNON – Appalachian Impact has invited the community to a gala to help raise funds for the Hampton Community Building.

Justin Bowers, Appalachian Impact director, attended the Aug. 11 Upshur County Commission meeting to talk about rebooting their programs and brief the commission on the organization’s progress on the Hampton Community building.

“We’ve had a busy year and we got into the Hampton Community Building back in January, so it’s been a lot of time planning and strategizing about how we wanted to put that building to use — and really the bigger picture of Appalachian Impact. This is rebuilding the organization.”

Appalachian Impact started in 2014 as a nonprofit committed to building hope for at-risk students. Their primary program was cultivating one-to-one adult and student relationships and training mentors.

“At one point, we had about 25 active mentors out in the county, but as with every story you hear right now, COVID shut that down completely,” Bowers said. “We were not allowed to have mentors in the school at that point, and in the year following, it was very limited in terms of who could get in and who couldn’t, so we are only now getting back up and running.”

The organization has trained four new mentors in the county, and members have been focusing on cleaning the Hampton Community building and installing some necessities.

“We’re trying to figure out how to get a hot water tank put in as well as a new toilet; there were some leaks going on,” Bowers said. “We are going to host a fundraising gala on October 16, so this is going to happen out of the Oren and Folk venue. They’ve offered this space to us, so it’s going to be from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.”

The gala will be a fundraising event to help get the community building off the ground and start programming as soon as possible.

“We’ll have an evening of live music, dancing, silent auctions and live auctions. We’re really excited,” Bowers said. “I’m working with a few of the art teachers to tie into the theme, so yellow is the theme of hope and the art teachers have offered to create some projects to have student-generated artwork that will be auctioned off as well.”

They are also looking for people to donate to the auction and help bring in more funds to Appalachian Impact so they can start using the building in the fall.

“In the fall and winter, we are hoping to provide some evenings where students can come hang out –we’ve talked about coffee houses, we’ve talked about bonfires, we’ve talked about just a space where specifically middle school and high school students have a gathering place and a place if someone wanted to offer after-school tutoring and after-school mentoring,” Bowers said.

More information about Appalachian Impact can be found on their Facebook page and tickets for the gala will be sold on their website http://www.appalachianimpact.org/.

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