DeShanta Hairston (left), executive director of FAHI (Fayette Area Historical Initiative), chats with Harvest Program Officer India Brown about Martinsville-Henry County's rich African American history.
Celebrating the rich history of African Americans in Martinsville-Henry County
From the desk of Harvest Foundation President Kate Keller
Throughout the month of February, we had the opportunity to celebrate — to celebrate love and the rich history of African Americans in our community, recognizing how well they go together.
This week we are partnering with the Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI) to tell stories of African American community members and their experiences in Martinsville-Henry County. These are stories that show the love of this community and they reflect a complex past of both trauma and prosperity.
Learning the history of the local Black community allows us to understand what MHC is today. We honor those who built this community through enslavement and then rose up to build their own American Dream. You will learn that this journey was challenging, but several Martinsville residents created economic opportunities for the African American community that may not have existed elsewhere.
It’s through understanding the past that we truly can see its mark on today. How do we come together as a community to fully understand our shared history and acknowledge the path leading us here? Watching these videos will certainly help everyone see the rich history of the region. I also hope it will bring viewers a deeper understanding that history isn’t really that far away, and acknowledgment that our journey is far from complete.
Moments in MHC's Black History: Celebrating Black History Month with the Fayette Area Historical Initiative
As Black History Month comes to an end this week, we’re reminded that Black History is American History. Learning more about the historical plight of African Americans teaches us who we are as a country and moves us toward healing. It harms our progress and ability to not just survive, but thrive if we can’t come together and reach a shared understanding of our country’s racial history.
We spoke with DeShanta Hairston, executive director of the Fayette Area Historical Initiative, about FAHI’s role in preserving Martinsville-Henry County’s history of African Americans and educating our community. Our first conversation talks about FAHI and how they accomplish those goals. Take a look at our YouTube to view the entire series: Moments in MHC's Black History.
Brandy Lawless (left), community engagement coordinator at United Way of Henry County and Martinsville, is pictured with Community Health Worker Karen Millner at a fall community event in 2022.
Community Health Worker program grows in Martinsville, Henry County
United Way of Henry County and Martinsville looks to hire Spanish-speaking Community Health Worker
Martinsville, Va. — The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville looks to hire a Spanish-speaking Community Health Worker (CHW) to address health disparities within the Hispanic/Latino/Latinx communities in Martinsville-Henry County. The Harvest Foundation funded a $25,000 grant to support this new position.
"Community Health Workers are frontline agents of change who are culturally and community informed,” said India Brown, program officer at The Harvest Foundation. “Their work is especially important when serving communities of color, like the Hispanic/Latinx community, that are often underserved. We hope our investment will increase awareness and access to community services within the Hispanic/Latinx community.”
Community Health Workers engage the entire community to improve the overall public health of the region. This position will focus primarily on building relationships with the Spanish-speaking community to foster trusting relationships with individuals who are not connected to local medical resources. They also will share information about services that address health challenges and directly connect clients to medical services offered by local providers.
“We are incredibly appreciative of the Harvest Foundation, the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia, and United Way Worldwide for investing in this project,” said Philip Wenkstern, executive director of The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville. “The United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every individual throughout Martinsville and Henry County. This project will enable us to strengthen connections with a long-underserved segment of our community.”
United Way will receive technical assistance from The Penn Center for Community Health Workers. The center administers the IMPaCT Model, a standardized, scalable program that utilizes evidence-based research and the latest technology so organizations can successfully staff and manage CHW programs at scale. Wenkstern added that the provided technical assistance ensures United Way will have the resources needed to improve strategies that directly support improved health, develop measurement systems that capture progress, and build local capacity for development.
The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville supports this grant-funded position with partners at The Harvest Foundation and the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia - Martinsville, and United Way Worldwide.
To apply or to learn more, visit unitedwayofhcm.org/careers or call (276) 638-3946.
Fieldale School Apartments Ribbon-Cutting Celebration
Ribbon cut for first 23 apartments homes of the
Martinsville-Henry Historic Collective
Martinsville, Va. — Former students, faculty and staff of the former Fieldale School gathered with community members today to cut the ribbon for 23 brand new apartments at the building.
Located at 100 Marshall Way in Fieldale, the Fieldale School Apartments feature high ceilings, stainless steel appliances, and washer/dryers in each unit. The unique apartment homes pay homage to its roots as a school with chalkboards and lockers weaved within modern design elements. They include 17 one-bedrooms, four two-bedrooms, and two one-bedrooms with a loft.
Cherney Development, in partnership with John Garland and JRS Realty Partners, LLC, is based out of Roanoke, VA. As part of the Martinsville-Henry Historic Collective, the group will develop the School Drive Apartments at the former John Redd Smith School in Collinsville, the Fayette Street Lofts at the former Winn Dixie building in Martinsville, and One Ellsworth, at the former BB&T building in Uptown Martinsville.
Find out more at the HistoricCollective.com.
Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia — Martinsville
Join the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia — Martinsville for a morning of learning and lively discussion on grant opportunities and non-profit needs in our community! The Community Foundation will be hosting a Grants Seminar for the Martinsville and Henry County community on Thursday, March 16, from 9:00 am - 11:00 a.m. at The TAD Space.
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Make an impact in your community. Share your HOPE.
We welcome your voice and ideas at The Harvest Foundation.
Our general responsive grants cycle is open year-round with consideration from our Board of Directors once a quarter. Our PUP Small Grants Program is an open process with decisions made in less than six weeks. Project Hope grants support small, grassroots projects with immediate impact.
Give our office a call to schedule an appointment with a program officer.
About The Harvest Foundation:
The Harvest Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2002 by the sale of Memorial Hospital. In partnership with the diverse people and organizations that call MHC home, we serve as a long-term catalyst, advocate, and investor to make our community a welcoming place where all can thrive. Our vision is a community where everyone shares in the promise of an MHC that is healthy, prosperous, and vibrant. To date, the foundation has invested more than $158 million in grant dollars back into the community and has an annual grants budget of roughly $10-12 million. To find out more about Harvest, visit www.theharvestfoundation.org.
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