Stories of Grantees

|Stories of Grantees
21 08, 2018

CABIN CREEK HEALTH

2018-08-21T19:19:31+00:00

Even in Craig Hudson’s early days of working in healthcare in West Virginia, Type 2 diabetes was a concern.

In the late 60s and 70s, as he worked to help active and disabled coal miners seek black-lung justice, diabetes was around. Later, as he began to establish primary care centers in mining communities in West Virginia, diabetes rates were continuing to grow.

But it wasn’t until the last 30 years while Craig has led Cabin Creek Health that he’s seen West Virginia’s battle with Type 2 diabetes go from a growing problem to a serious public health epidemic. As of 2015, more than 1 in 7 adults in West Virginia have diabetes, the second highest occurrence in the nation according to the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources.

Today, out of the 17,000 patients that visit one of Cabin Creek’s six healthcare centers every year, 3,000 are considered diabetic. Of that number, 30 percent, or 900, are high risk, meaning they have an A1C of 9 or higher, which reflects their average blood sugar level over the last two to three months. And those figures don’t even include prediabetic patients.

“When I started in this area, we had diabetes of course in our health centers, but it was nothing like 3,000 out of 17,000 people,” Craig said. “It was a relatively modest part of what we do; now it’s a huge part of what we do in primary care.”

For a long time, the only opportunities Craig’s staff at Cabin Creek’s six centers, located throughout Kanawha County, had for intervening were patient visits every couple of months. But as Craig and his staff know too well, battling diabetes is a day-to-day fight that requires a change in behavior over a long period of time.

Now, thanks to a 2017 grant from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF), Cabin Creek is getting a chance to make a greater impact on high-risk diabetes patients by expanding care from their clinics into patients’ homes.

Because of direct financial support from TGKVF, Cabin Creek was able to hire a care coordinator, who is solely focused on helping high-risk diabetes patients set goals to improve their lives and reduce their A1C level. Using a care-coordination model developed by Marshall University, Cabin Creek’s care coordinator makes regular, weekly home visits to the 32 patients currently in the program. By identifying the challenges patients face — whether socioeconomic or physical — the coordinator is able to help patients build a realistic plan for managing and improving their overall health.

“We plan to build on what we learn from this in order to take care of our broader population of patients with diabetes and prediabetes,” Craig said.

CABIN CREEK HEALTH2018-08-21T19:19:31+00:00
21 08, 2018

DAYMARK

2018-08-21T19:23:28+00:00

Music followed Steven every time he moved. The first time Steven was removed from his mom’s custody at age four, his foster mom, a keyboardist in a band, taught him how to play the piano and guitar.

The second time he was removed from his mom, at seven, his foster parents entered him into the strings program at his school. He later started playing cello after he moved to Buckhannon with his biological mom. And by the time he entered middle school in Clarksburg, he decided to pick up the trombone.

Although he moved so often (six times in elementary school, three in middle, and three in high school), Steven said, music always helped him find friends, a common language he could speak. It was a chance to help escape his troubles at home, a tiny, temporary raft of stability. Since becoming a resident at Turning Point last year, a residential home for youth ages 15–21 in the custody of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Steven’s found what feels like the first real form of stability he’s ever known. He’s found a therapist who’s helping him address and process the physical, mental, and emotional abuse he experienced throughout his childhood. He’s found a case worker, Lynda, who has helped him fill out college applications and who was in the stands cheering at his recent high school graduation.

Turning Point is one of the direct-assistance programs by Daymark, a nonprofit based in Charleston working to help meet the individual needs of youth living in crisis through safe shelter, guidance, and education. In addition to Turning Point, Daymark runs a homeless shelter for youth, as well as an independent-living program designed to give young adults the tools they need to be independent. Daymark also offers educational programs to help prepare students to take the TASC exam in order to transition to a four-year or community and technical college.

Thanks to support from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Daymark is able to continue its work helping kids like Steven realize their potential.

“After entering Turning Point, you get the realization that there’s always somebody there to help you,” Steven said. “… They treat me with respect, and that’s just something I’ve never had.”

Until Steven entered Turning Point, he didn’t think college was in his future. He wasn’t even sure he was going to finish high school. He was too busy taking care of his younger siblings. He’d just find a job in the service industry, maybe work in fast food, he guessed.

But Daymark employees helped him see his potential. They helped him narrow down his college search. They connected him to programs to help fund his education. They drove him to Marshall University when he auditioned on the trombone for the music program.

In August, when Steven moves again, it will be to start his first semester as a music-education major at Marshall. He’s excited he already has something stable to look forward to — marching band.

DAYMARK2018-08-21T19:23:28+00:00
12 05, 2016

DuBois Academy Offers Leadership and Arts Enrichment for Fayette County Students

2017-04-17T17:55:17+00:00

During the summer of 2015, eleven middle school students in Fayette County attended the DuBois Youth Leadership and Media Academy. Over the course of six weeks, they made short films, developed leadership skills, and learned about local black history.

 

The Academy was housed at the DuBois on Main museum in Mount Hope, which honors the heritage of the all-black DuBois High School. The school was open from 1907 to 1956. In spite of the inequality they faced, many DuBois students made outstanding local, state, and national achievements in the fields of science, the arts, medicine, religion, education, the military, public service, and business.

 

Academy students filmed oral histories with DuBois High School graduates and selected footage from the interviews to create short films. The topics of the films included segregated schools in Fayette County; cooking and growing food; and the importance of radio to older generations. Several local media professionals dropped in for workshops and discussions. Underpinning the program was the history of the all-black DuBois High School and educational segregation in Mount Hope. During one session, students discussed race and racism with an organizer from Race Matters West Virginia, a statewide network dedicated to reducing racial inequality.

 

A leadership instructor worked with the students throughout the summer to think about ways that they can lead in their own social circle and community. Students used a variety of games, puzzles, and role-playing to talk about how leadership shows up in their own lives. At a Community Leadership Roundtable discussion, students met and talked with community leaders like a House of Delegates member, the executive director of a nonprofit, a small business owner, a mayor, and others.

 

At the end of the summer, students showcased their short films at a Premiere Party where they received individualized awards and small cash prizes for what they had contributed to the Academy. The videos and photos that the students created then became part of DuBois on Main Museum’s exhibits and were later donated to the West Virginia State Archives.

 

Catherine Moore, co-founder of the DuBois Youth Leadership and Media Academy, shares the experience of one participant, Mary*:

 

“This is a story of a student whose confidence grew over the course of the summer.   Mary is a very quiet, shy, and unassuming young person. She applied for the Academy all on her own, without encouragement from her teachers, and her application was one of the most thoughtful and heartfelt that we received. Mary had recently been placed to live with her grandparents so she was experiencing some painful adjustments at home. Over the course of the summer, Mary demonstrated her willingness to lead and teach others. Her maturity and her keen observations stood out. She wasn’t the loudest, boldest, or flashiest leader, but at the end of the Academy, her peers democratically elected her the Leader of the Year. She was shocked by the decision when she accepted her award. Mary’s grandmother said she had been talking for weeks about how much she wanted the leadership award (and the accompanying gift of a video camera) but how doubtful she was that she would win. Winning the award grew Mary’s confidence and taught all the participants about what leadership can look like.”

 

Grants from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation and the National Coal Heritage Area Authority allowed for the purchase of media equipment, healthy snacks, student awards, staffing, and more. Other partners included the West Virginia Community Development Hub, Appalshop, WVU Extension Services, and Beauty Mountain Studio.

DuBois Academy Offers Leadership and Arts Enrichment for Fayette County Students2017-04-17T17:55:17+00:00
21 08, 2018

FAMILIES LEADING CHANGE

2018-08-21T19:17:51+00:00

Since all three of their sons were diagnosed with autism starting in 2010, John and Christal Barton have done all they can to connect themselves and their children with the best resources and care West Virginia has to offer.

But after years of research and doctor’s visits, the couple started noticing a hole.

Although there were many specific therapies available — occupational, speech, physical therapy — there wasn’t much available for the parents, like nearby support groups for families raising children with autism in Putnam County, where the Bartons live. And frankly, John said, they need support just as much as their kids.

Raising one child with autism can be lonely and isolating, John said. Imagine multiplying that number by three.

“When you’re talking about autism and disabilities that specifically affect social skills and connections with other people … you’re talking about something that creates an isolated existence,” John said.

Thanks to a $2,000 mini-grant the Bartons received from Families Leading Change, the couple has created a group to help address the isolation and loneliness that autism can cause for both parents and their kids. Families Leading Change (FLC) is a statewide organization working to give families a voice in schools to create a system change that will improve education. One way FLC works to support greater parent engagement in schools is through their mini-grant program, which helps family-led teams start sustainable programs and projects
in their local schools or through after-school programs.

Starting in December 2017, John and Christal launched the Gaming Social Skills Group in Putnam County in partnership with Winfield Middle and Winfield High School to support families with autism in the region. Families like the Bartons meet once a month in Teays Valley. Around 10 to 20 people attend. The kids play collaborative, multi-player video games, which John oversees. They chose video games as a way to help initiate socialization, John said, because it’s a form of play many children on the spectrum, including his own, feel comfortable doing. But instead of playing at home in isolation, kids play in the same room with others. They talk to one another about the game, and offer ideas.

As for the parents, while their children are playing games, they spend the group time talking, sharing stories and frustrations, hearing from other parents going through what they’re going through. The group meetings have been known to go over on time because the kids were having fun and, well, the parents just wanted to keep talking. “We have been raising these boys for over a decade, and we know how isolating it is,” Christal said. “We have to create that community so that people know they are not alone.”

The FLC mini-grant the Bartons received helped them pay for televisions, gaming systems and controllers. FLC started its mini-grant program in 2017. The Bartons were one of 53 parent-led groups throughout the state to receive the first wave of funding. In 2017, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation funded the 11 FLC mini-grants awarded to family teams, including the Bartons, in the Kanawha Valley.

FAMILIES LEADING CHANGE2018-08-21T19:17:51+00:00
21 08, 2018

KEYS 4 HealthyKids Natural Learning Environments

2018-08-21T18:16:46+00:00

KEYS for HealthyKids is a partnership of community stakeholders that implements healthy eating and active living policy and environmental change to support healthier communities for children
and families. One way that KEYS works to promote healthy habits and behaviors is by helping childcare centers create Natural Learning Environments. These environments are spaces that
provide enriching outdoor learning opportunities that contribute to healthy development. These natural learning opportunities often include gardening. Research shows that children are more
likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they have planted and cared for them. Ultimately, outdoor play in well-designed spaces helps children develop good nutrition and physical activity habits that can last a lifetime.

Creating natural learning environments in childcare centers grew out of children’s need for consistent and early nature exposure. In our technology-fueled environment, children spend more time indoors playing video games, watching television, and on computers and less time being physically active with their peers outside. Children are at their most vulnerable from birth-5 years old; this is also the time in which children are rapidly developing their cognitive, social and emotional skills. For these reasons, KEYS focuses on the places where many children, especially those with working parents, spend the majority of their time—within the childcare setting.

The Natural Learning Environment initiative is a part of the quality improvement project, Key 2 a Healthy Start, in which childcare centers work on changing policies and environments to meet best practices for nutrition and physical activity. With The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation’s support, KEYS 4 HealthyKids provided technical assistance to 13 natural learning environments (3 playgrounds and 10 gardens) at childcare centers located throughout the Greater Kanawha Valley. Here are some snapshots of the program’s benefits:

Public

Employee Daycare in Charleston, WV Natural environments support physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development.

Community Building

Increasing Team Capacity: Teams are able to work together on bigger projects by learning steps to take their projects from inception to completion.

Community partners build their own natural learning environments with assistance from KEYS 4 HealthyKids. The community consists of parents, local businesses, and other community
members. By working together on this project, community members may continue to engage in other community projects.

KEYS 4 HealthyKids Natural Learning Environments2018-08-21T18:16:46+00:00
21 08, 2018

Leadership Kanawha Valley

2018-08-21T18:09:22+00:00

From young professionals to senior executives, the Charleston Area Alliance Leadership Kanawha Valley (LKV) program gives the leaders of today and tomorrow the tools, knowledge, experiences, and connections to enhance their community impact. LKV is one of the most celebrated leadership programs in the region as it builds strong connections across private, public, and nonprofit sectors and helps graduates find their place in creating a vibrant community.

Through LKV’s eight-month program, participants learn about the issues shaping the community from the experts working on them, form lasting bonds with classmates who are active leaders, and strengthen professional skills with a leadership development curriculum. Since 2004, more than 325 have joined the Charleston Area Alliance’s LKV alumni network.

As an economic, business and community development organization, the Alliance works to grow and aid talent to become better leaders and citizens through the LKV program. The Alliance recognizes that retaining talent at all levels is imperative and delivers quality development opportunities. LKV is one of the organization’s many projects aimed at identifying new ideas, energy, and leadership.

“We are dedicated to developing a robust pipeline of diverse civic leaders to serve the region,” said Susie Salisbury, the Alliance’s vice president of Community Development. “The impact of the program is felt in all areas of the community. We are committed to helping the broader Kanawha Valley region embrace creativity in its thinking and building bridges of understanding across segments of our community.”

LKV works to strengthen and inspire participants to become more impactful leaders and maintain involvement in the social, business, and political fabric of the community. Participants work together to get better acquainted with the area’s business, government, community, and quality of life issues. LKV takes participants to the center of the issues, illuminating the region’s challenges and innovative solutions through behind-the-scene experiences, offering exclusive access to our region’s experts and providing opportunities to deepen connections with the area’s leaders.

The program strategically addresses The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation’s forms of wealth, including individual, intellectual, social and political capital. LKV participants are usually looking to expand their commitment to the community, dive deeper into the Kanawha Valley’s issues, and collaborate with other leaders to find solutions. Those selected have demonstrated leadership
capacities, varied talents and backgrounds, and diverse careers.

The Alliance is grateful for TGKVF’s investment in the 2016 LKV program. With TGKVF’s support during LKV’s transitional year, we have continued our focus on developing talented leaders and building a stronger community while seeking new funding support for 2017. The Alliance is excited to announce that Frontier Communications and Thomas Health System as the presenting sponsors of the 2017 LKV class. We look forward to continuing this important work.

Leadership Kanawha Valley2018-08-21T18:09:22+00:00
12 05, 2016

Mission WV, TEAM for WV Children, and The Appalachian Reading Center Serve Foster Youth

2017-04-17T17:55:17+00:00

Over the past nine months, collaborations among Mission West Virginia, TEAM for WV Children, and The Appalachian Reading Center have worked to support foster youth in the Kanawha Valley. While these partnerships all vary in the character of their operations, they each work to ensure that youth within the foster care system achieve their full potential.

 

West Virginia has more than 4,000 children in foster care and more than 1 in 5 of those youth will become homeless as they “age out” of the system when they turn 18 years old. Only 58% of children within foster care will graduate high school, fewer than 3% earn a college degree, and by age 24, only half are employed. To address these issues, Mission WV’s “The Bridge” and TEAM for WV Children’s “Fostering Futures” received funding support from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation in October of 2015. Their programs, designed to mentor students in the foster care system, work directly with schools, families, and group home facilities. The Bridge works to provide K-12 foster youth with academic support and post-secondary planning. Fostering Futures, developed by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, serves high school students in areas such as independent living planning and career exploration. The Bridge and Fostering Futures each serve their own students and work is individualized to meet participants’ needs. This customized approach allows their collaboration to flourish through resource-sharing and co-presenting. Enrichment opportunities that benefit both sets of students are also combined, such as college campus visits and group workshops. To date, the programs collectively serve more than 40 students with intensive academic and life skills support.

 

In December 2015, the Appalachian Reading Center built upon this collaboration by partnering with Mission WV to provide reading support services to foster youth in Clay County, WV. The targeted students have experienced a loss in learning due to frequent placement and school changes or they have learning needs that require extra attention. In rural locations, these needs may go unmet because of the isolation and lack of resources the community experiences. The Appalachian Reading Center tutoring initiative is aimed at training 6-7 tutors in the Clay County area to deliver reading instruction to at least 14 high-need, reading deficient students that are in foster or kinship care. The Appalachian Reading Center trains and supervises these tutors and The Bridge of Mission WV refers the students, supports the families, and also supervises the tutors.

Amanda Davis, Program Director of The Bridge, shares the story of Eric*: “A year ago, Eric was living out of state, homeless, and truant with no guidance or assistance from any caring adult. Because he lacked a permanent address, Eric was unenrolled from his school and lacking a full year of credits. He was not expected to graduate from high school, much less go to college. Now, thanks to a supportive school atmosphere and The Bridge’s services, Eric is not only on track to graduate, he is making high grades in all classes, including a couple of college-level courses. Eric always knew that he was smart and driven, but now he has the confidence to challenge himself even more. He hopes to go to West Virginia University (WVU) and pursue an engineering degree. The Bridge was able to advocate for Eric and tell his incredible story to admissions counselors and scholarship committees. With this support, his college dreams are coming true: he has been accepted to WVU and has earned scholarship funding that will allow him to pursue his ambitions.”

These partnerships have been a source of hope for students like Eric who are within foster care in the Greater Kanawha Valley region. Funding from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation supports staffing, travel, scholarships, tutor stipends, and materials.

Mission WV, TEAM for WV Children, and The Appalachian Reading Center Serve Foster Youth2017-04-17T17:55:17+00:00
12 05, 2016

Refresh Appalachia Provides Agricultural Entrepreneurship Development

2017-04-17T17:55:17+00:00

Refresh Appalachia is a regional economic and workforce development initiative that works to establish a sustainable training and development program for beginning farmers and ranchers in southern West Virginia and Central Appalachia. A social enterprise of the Coalfield Development Corporation (Coalfield), Refresh Appalachia applies Coalfield’s successful 33-6-3 framework in Lincoln County to grow an intensive agriculture industry and skilled workforce poised to create and retain community wealth through local and regional food system jobs and markets. The 33-6-3 model promotes workforce development: a Refresh Appalachia participant spends 33 hours working for an income; devotes 6 hours a week to core community college and business classes for an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship; and commits 3 hours per week to life skills coaching (parenting, financial management, and goals).

This initiative strives to supply and strengthen the local food system, increase access to healthy food, and aggregate and distribute produce to meet regional and national markets. Refresh Appalachia enhances the knowledge and skills of beginning farmers and ranchers by creating a network of training sites called Learning Farms Incubators, which then generate revenue and serve as hands-on training sites for beginning farmers, ranchers, and high school students. “Refresh Appalachia- Lincoln County” is a collaborative partnership between Coalfield Development Corporation, Lincoln County High School, Unlimited Future, Inc., Step By Step, Inc. and the Lincoln County Economic Development Authority.

The project team consists of project implementers, community partners, and technical assistance providers; each member of the collaboration has his or her own role. Coalfield Development Corporation provides on-the-job training and mentorship; Lincoln County High School hosts the Learning Farm Incubator as well as recruits and educates students; Unlimited Future, Inc. provides training and marketing support; Step by Step, Inc. recruits and mentors program participants and identifies communities in need of fresh produce; and, the Lincoln County Economic Development Authority identifies additional sites, supports sales, and conducts community outreach.

Notably, the project partnership between Coalfield and Lincoln County High School was originally conceived by a Coalfield construction crew member and recent graduate of Lincoln County High. Recognizing the vast yet underutilized agriculture resources available at the school, Coalfield crew member, Colt Brogan, suggested that Coalfield contact the school about a potential partnership. According to Ben Gilmer, President of Refresh Appalachia, “From our initial discussions it was clear that real synergies existed between our programs. First, the high school agriculture program is traditionally limited by the school calendar year so students rarely have an opportunity to engage in agriculture activities that follow traditional seasons. With Coalfield’s year-round crew, students are now able to be involved in activities that follow traditional production cycles. Secondly, high school vocational programs have recently shifted to “simulated workplaces” where their classroom structure mirrors that of a business environment. The high school students are now able to work alongside Coalfield’s staff in an actual enterprise.”

Refresh Appalachia crew member, Colt Brogan, says “it’s amazing that now I am able to work in the same school where I graduated. All through school I wished that I could help this facility reach its full potential – and now here I am.”

Funding from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation supports staffing, training, and building materials.

Refresh Appalachia Provides Agricultural Entrepreneurship Development2017-04-17T17:55:17+00:00
21 08, 2018

The Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist (ACDS)

2018-08-21T18:26:28+00:00

The Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist (ACDS) is a statewide training program that builds a competent, sustained workforce to provide quality care and education to West Virginia children. The program is a collaborative effort of the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, the US Department of Education, the WV Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Children and Families, the Division of Early Care and Education, River Valley Child Development Services, the WV Early Childhood Training Connections and Resources, WVU Extension Services, and multiple vocational schools.

In April 1989, the director of the West Virginia Department of Labor approached River Valley Child Development Services to develop and provide an apprenticeship training opportunity for individuals working in the childcare sector. The collaborative partners united with local and state programs to secure funds and create a curriculum. The first four-semester course was successfully implemented as a pilot in the fall of 1989 with seventeen apprentices. As the first early childhood apprenticeship model in the United States, the program has received national recognition.
Since its inception, the program has continued to evolve. ACDS trains staff currently employed in childcare centers, Head Starts, preschools, school-age care programs, and public schools. Based on the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship model, the ACDS program requires a total of 300 hours of course work and 4,000 hours of on the job experience. It also requires the commitment of the apprentice’s employer to provide supervision and support of the apprentice’s laboratory work and an increase in wages upon successful completion of the training. Graduates
receive national certification through the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship and, upon completion of the program, often matriculate to colleges and
universities to obtain an associate’s degree in early childhood education. The collaborative partners and early childhood development experts recognized a need to revise the ACDS training curricula in April of 2015. Based on this need, they redeveloped the curriculum to reflect current research and to meet the state requirements of those employed in the field of early education. This curriculum, which incorporates best practices, offers early childcare centers a comprehensive, competency-based program that trains childcare staff to provide quality care for
children.

In 2016, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation supported the ACDS Curriculum Revision Project because, in addition to collaborating with multiple partners across sectors, the program aligned with the Foundation’s interest in increasing the number of qualified educators working in out-of-school time settings. ACDS also Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist promotes the pursuit of post-secondary certification, which is also one of TGKVF’s education priorities. The Foundation’s funding supported the ACDS curricula’s redesign and allowed for the purchase of resource boxes to supplement the newly revised lessons. These materials have helped instructors make positive connections with their apprentices through hands-on activities that support weekly modules. The resources have greatly strengthened the learning experience for approximately 70 apprentices within TGKVF’s region by providing them current, research-based information to
implement goals and objectives in their early childhood classroom. In addition to assisting apprentices, the grant has also built the capacity of ACDS instructors as it enables them to receive updates and training on the newly designed curricula.

The ACDS program has had much success in producing knowledgeable early childhood professionals because of its “hands-on” approach. According to one childcare center director, “staff who have completed the ACDS program have gained knowledge and understanding of child development and implemented it in the classroom. Being in a classroom setting with other teachers from different centers is a great resource for sharing knowledge with one another. Teachers who have completed the ACDS program have gone on to continue their education and obtain a degree in
early childhood education. They feel a sense of pride and passion in their careers and they no longer look at what they do as just a job.” Apprentices put into practice the knowledge gained from their weekly instruction into their classrooms with children. This type of training offers apprentices professional growth and enhances the quality of care for children in the state of West Virginia.

The Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist (ACDS)2018-08-21T18:26:28+00:00
21 08, 2018

TICKET TOWN

2018-08-21T19:20:09+00:00

Since moving to Charleston in 1970 to work as a cardiologist, Dr. Bill Carter has attended his share of live performances in the capital city. Plays, symphony concerts, ballets — Bill’s been a common fixture at them all.

And in recent years, he began noticing a trend — empty seats. Attending shows at places like the Clay Center, Bill noticed that large chunks of the balcony were often lacking in folks. And he started thinking about how he could change that.

Bill was already involved on Charleston’s West Side. He helped to establish a tennis program in the summer months to serve children in the neighborhood. So he reached out to community organizations, like the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club and the Partnership of African American Churches, to help get live performance tickets into the hands of children growing up on Charleston’s West Side. Almost half of the kids in Charleston’s West Side live below the poverty line, the highest rate of any Charleston neighborhood.

From 2016 to 2017, Bill organized the cultural program all on his own, meeting with performance groups like the Charleston Ballet and the Light Opera Guild to secure tickets at a discounted price. He then worked with community groups to figure out how they could get kids to performances.

But that’s a lot of work for one person to try to manage. In late 2017, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF) stepped in to support Bill’s work. TGKVF helped Bill create a private, donoradvised fund to financially support the program, known as Ticket Town. Ticket Town is being facilitated by FestivALL, which oversees Charleston’s 10-day arts festival in addition to working throughout the year to create, produce and present vibrant arts experiences and entertainment opportunities.

This year for the first time, Ticket Town will help to enable kids throughout Charleston’s West Side to be able to attend some of FestivALL’s major events, like the Mayor’s Concert or Dance FestivALL. And because FestivALL already has partnerships with the live, performance arts groups throughout the city, they’re working to expose kids to even more cultural events.

“FestivALL has always been meant for everybody,” Brittany Javins, Executive Director of FestivALL, said. “… Building this community feeling through the arts has been a really important part of FestivALL.”

FestivALL and Ticket Town have been able to combine their community partnerships, adding schools on the West Side like Mary C. Snow Elementary and Stonewall Jackson Middle, to ensure they reach as many children as possible.

Now, in addition to paying for discounted tickets for kids to attend live performance events, Ticket Town offers mini-grants to community organizations to help them cover the costs of getting kids to and from events, like paying for extra gas or treating kids to a meal before a show.

“It’s been a twofold benefit,” Brittany said, “Both people from the community are getting to go to shows they might not go to, but also the arts groups aren’t completely giving them away for free.”

Bill isn’t hoping this program will change the world, he said. If it opens the eyes of a few kids, maybe inspires some to learn how to play music or try out ballet, he said, that will be enough.

TICKET TOWN2018-08-21T19:20:09+00:00