Marking 20 Years of Progress and Hope in MHC
From the desk of Harvest Foundation President Kate Keller
This month we mark the 20th Anniversary of The Harvest Foundation. We’ve been celebrating all year internally, but this month our community celebration begins with the launch of our 20th Anniversary Report and the big announcement of Project Hope. Both of these help us to see the progress MHC has made over the last 20 years and how we still work together as a community to meet local needs.
In the early days of the Foundation, MHC was still reeling from the loss of textiles, furniture, and manufacturing. We started then and continue to today a strong focus on economic development and increasing job opportunities. A 20-year focus created one of our largest industrial parks — Commonwealth Crossing — and an expansion of the Patriot Centre. These sites allowed us to recruit such businesses at Schock GmbH, Press Glass, and Crown Holdings, while we also supported the expansion of several existing companies, such as Eastman and Monogram Snacks. All of these efforts significantly increased the number of jobs in our community and increased local average wages.
However, our community needs more than jobs and new companies; it needs to be a community in which people can thrive. Health and Education are key drivers of a thriving community. Over the past twenty years, Harvest collaborated with the community to establish the Coalition for Health and Wellness, the Community Dental Clinic, the Hope Center, and many other health-related programs.
From day one, Harvest partnered with all local schools to support professional development for teachers and continues to build and strengthen our early childhood system. Two of our best efforts to support our youth include the creation of the Harvest Youth Board and our announcement last year of a 13-year commitment to the SEED Fund program, guaranteeing that all of our youth have the promise of college.
A thriving community also needs places for people to be healthy, play, and connect with their friends and neighbors. A few of our efforts in that regard include, of course, the extensive trail system, so we can all get out and walk, run, skip, or bike. Along the Dick & Willie Trail, you get to walk along the Smith River, which now has 14 access points for everyone to use the river. We supported the opening of the marina at Philpott Lake, helping to expand the airport, and last but not least, the sports complex.
All of these activities have strengthened our community.
It hasn’t all been easy, and not everything we tried has worked, but that’s one of the reasons we are here: To help our community try.
The past couple of years have been trying on all of us. Harvest pivoted its work in 2020 to support COVID-related efforts: testing, vaccines, early childhood, small business support, and broadband access.
While we continue some of these efforts, we are looking ahead. As you know, this year we launched our current strategic plan. This plan continues to support efforts in health, education, and a vibrant community, but it also has a North Star of Hope. With Hope as our North Star, we will work diligently with our community partners to create spaces and places for people to connect and engage. By building community connections, we can help to rebuild Hope together.
Take a look at Harvest's 20th Anniversary Celebration Event at the Foundation's office in Martinsville on Aug. 16.
Video Footage Provided Courtesy of BTW21 News
Harvest releases 20th Anniversary Report
We invite you to share in a celebration of 20 years serving Martinsville-Henry County. This year's annual report highlights The Harvest Foundation's progress since the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission approved its creation on August 16, 2002.
Harvest's story truly began with the opening of Memorial Hospital on June 7, 1970. The report features a historical timeline that shares more about the foundation's early years and how it grew to the organization it is today.
Submit your Proposal for Project Hope
Hope is a feeling, but hope is also an action. We can work at it and make it stronger. When we feel hope, we don't settle. We rise to the challenge. To celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we're bringing Project Hope to Martinsville-Henry County.
This is a chance to bring hope to your community and connect with your neighbors through volunteerism and positive engagement. Project Hope is a small, grassroots program funded by us and driven by you and your goals to create a better future for your community. Proposals are due on Sept. 16, 2022.
Take a look at the RFP (Request for Proposals) on our website and talk to your neighbors. Is there a park on your street waiting for a willing group of volunteers to spruce it up? Is there an empty lot that might be an eyesore now, but with a little TLC, could be a beautiful community garden? Maybe there's a wall in your neighborhood that would make a great spot for a mural celebrating local culture and history.
Let us help you share your hope.
The United Way Day of Action on Sept. 13, 2019, drew volunteers from across Martinsville and Henry County for a combined 400 hours of community service. These volunteers worked at Camp Lee Ford in Henry County.
United Way seeks community input for potential volunteer engagement system
Local nonprofits, businesses encouraged to provide feedback on developing a centralized volunteer management system for Martinsville-Henry County
Martinsville, Va. — United Way of Henry County & Martinsville wants local nonprofits and businesses to weigh in on developing a centralized engagement and management system to mobilize volunteers.
“How do we develop a strong volunteer system for our community? People see things that would be helpful to a community, but finding a way to pull all the pieces together to make it work can be challenging,” said Sheryl Agee, senior operating officer at The Harvest Foundation. “We know it is important as volunteers often help keep the doors open and enable nonprofits to deliver vital programs and services. Studies show that volunteering is also good for our own physical and mental health. It keeps us in regular contact with others and helps develop social networks and support systems to help when we may be going through a challenging time.”
The Harvest Foundation funded a Pick Up the Pace! grant of $6,682.50 to assess specific volunteer needs of organizations and how willing organizations are to adopt a centralized system.
Philip Wenkstern, executive director of the United Way of Henry County & Martinsville, said he recognizes the integral role volunteers play in the ability of organizations to achieve their respective missions.
“We hope this grant is the first step toward creating a local volunteer engagement and management system that benefits organizations throughout our community,” he said. “We are thankful to the Harvest Foundation for supporting the research and planning that the United Way will pursue as we work to build a system that benefits everyone.”
One example of the impact volunteers have on Martinsville-Henry County is the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program, a premier initiative of the United Way. According to Wenkstern, this program is almost entirely volunteer ran and staffed, engaging nearly 20 volunteers who contribute roughly 2,500 hours of time annually. These volunteers prepare more than 1,600 tax returns which generate nearly $2.5 million in tax refunds and almost $500,000 in tax filing fee savings for some of the community’s most economically disadvantaged members.
“Nonprofits are often understaffed and operating on a shoestring budget,” Wenkstern said. “The opportunity to address pressing community challenges by leveraging the passion and expertise of our local residents is an important resource that needs to be strengthened.”
The United Way of Henry County & Martinsville is holding its Day of Action and Annual Campaign Kickoff on Sept. 23. To find out more, visit unitedwayofhcm.org.
Level UP MHC Community Summit Coming Oct. 20
Hope builders in Martinsville-Henry County and The Harvest Foundation are planning Level Up MHC, a community summit and conversation, on Oct. 20, 2022.
We invite local leaders that work in Housing, Community Amenities, Small Business Entrepreneurship, and Building Community Connectivity. All of these areas are connected to improving the quality of life. We aim to learn more about each of these areas, but also work on strategies so that our community leaders and organizations can activate them.
We will share additional information closer to the date. We hope you will join us!
There's always something fun to do in
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. The newly announced Project Hope program is about supporting 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 $150 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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