Enjoy your summer in MHC!
From the desk of Harvest Foundation President Kate Keller
Summer is here which means that outdoor living is in full force. Our community has so many great outdoor assets that bring tourists and locals out to enjoy. If your idea of fun includes water or land, there are plenty of things for you to do.
If you haven’t been paying much attention over the past twenty years or so, you may not have noticed that the Smith River is active and full of kayakers and people fishing. There are many access points to the river. Check them out here.
We have trails, oh so many trails! Our trails are full of people of all ages getting active and enjoying the scenery. You can walk, run, or bike. And if you need a bike, stop by the Bike Barn and borrow one! If you haven’t gotten out to take advantage of the trails, I highly recommend it. The path along the Smith River near the sports complex is shady and cool — nice on a hot day.
If cooling off is what you are after and floating down the Smith River isn’t your thing, head up to Bowen Creek Park at Philpott Lake for some swimming. Tap or click here if you need to know where they are.
Events and activities abound here in MHC.
Whether it’s an evening at the ballpark watching the Mustangs play or visiting one of our many air-conditioned museums, there is guaranteed to be something to do when you hit the mid-summer doldrums. Outdoor events also provide a COVID-friendly way to see your friends and neighbors.
We kicked off the summer with Rooster Walk, but every month there are opportunities such as First Fridays and Third Thursdays in Uptown Martinsville. Another hometown favorite is Smith River Fest on August 20th.
Fun in the summertime is everywhere, and too many things are happening to list here. The best resource in town to find out what is happening is VisitMartinsville — they are in the know. Enjoy your summer and stay safe!
Harvest partners with Smart Beginnings to build capacity for local childcare centers
Smart Beginnings Martinsville Henry received a three-year rant of $1.17 million to strengthen and grow Martinsville-Henry County's local early childhood education system
Martinsville, Va. — For nearly 45 years, Beth Kotchish taught and looked after children at First Baptist Early Learning Center in Martinsville.
“I started as an aide at First Baptist when I was a senior in high school and worked my way up to being the director,” she said. “Children have always been my passion. Even at six years old, my favorite thing to do at church was to go to the nursery. Watching these children from 6 weeks old, seeing them grow up, get married, and bring their children back to you is a blessing. It may sound corny, but this is my calling. It’s always been about the children.”
Kotchish is the director of the only religious-based Level 5 early childhood center in Martinsville-Henry County as rated by Virginia Quality’s Voluntary Rating and Improvement System. Kotchish said she received significant support and technical assistance from Smart Beginnings Martinsville Henry that propelled her staff to a higher standard.
First Baptist Early Learning Center also received funding through the quality improvement program that allowed Kotchish to outfit the center’s classrooms with a new curriculum Kaplan Learn Every Day, improving the center's services for children.
“Ruth Anne (Collins) and Talitha (Kirby) have been a godsend,” Kotchish said. “We couldn’t have improved our center to this extent without their support and guidance.”
The Harvest Foundation and Smart Beginnings partnership to build Martinsville-Henry County’s early childhood education system continues with a three-year grant of $1,176,443. This funding focuses on several objectives including increasing local childcare capacity, building a high-quality workforce in early childhood education, and implementing a literacy initiative to increase reading proficiency for students.
“Harvest is a long-time supporter of early childhood education as we believe the evidence that lifelong learning begins at birth and the earliest years of a child directly impacts how they will thrive the rest of their lives,” said Sheryl Agee, senior operating officer at The Harvest Foundation. “Building effective systems takes time but that commitment is rewarding when you can look back and see change occurring.”
A decade ago, no early learning programs in Martinsville-Henry County were part of the state rating system that supports early childhood providers, Agee said.
“Today, 89 percent of our dedicated local programs are actively participating, allowing them to get the support needed to deliver quality services, which further empowers parents with information to choose the program that best fits their child’s needs,” Agee added. “The childcare system still has many challenges around access, affordability, and even providing a living wage to those who care for our children. Harvest remains committed to being a partner at the table as we continue the work to build a strong early learning system that develops thriving youth, supports our workforce and ultimately our entire community.”
Next phase of Dick and Willie Passage to begin construction in July
Construction is expected to be completed by June 2023
Trail enthusiasts will soon have more ground to cover as construction of Phase 6A of the Dick and Willie Passage will get underway in July 2022.
Once the additional 1.75 miles are constructed, there will be approximately 9.5 miles of paved trail along the former railroad passage.
“The Dick and Willie Passage is an absolute gem for our community and we couldn’t be more excited to start Phase 6A of the project,” said Henry County Administrator Tim Hall. “Projects like these don’t happen overnight. Our Board of Supervisors and community partners deserve credit for having the fortitude to see it to its completion.”
Henry County was joined by the Harvest Foundation and the Virginia Department of Transportation in funding the latest portion of the project.
Inland Construction Inc., based out of Abingdon, Virginia, was awarded the contract to begin construction in the amount of $1,902,470. The bid will extend the route from the end of the existing trail at Mulberry Creek down alongside the creek. Funding options are currently being explored for the remaining 0.9 miles of Phase 6A which will cross Mulberry Creek and Spruce Street to connect with Phase 6B.
Following the completion of Phase 6A, the Dick and Willie Passage will be nearly 11 miles of paved trail from Virginia Avenue to the Smith River Sports Complex in Axton.
There is a potential that the section of the existing trail from Fisher Street to Mulberry Creek will need to be closed during construction. In the event of a closure, barriers and signs will be posted.
Construction is expected to be completed by June 2023.
Harvest Staffers recently enjoyed a day in Spencer! Spencer Penn Centre was their first stop where the group spent the morning cleaning and tidying exercise equipment and the computer lab.
Next, staff spent time with Manager Jason Davis at Blue Ridge Regional Airport learning more about daily operations and airport improvements. AirLife Virginia also took time for a short tour of the helicopter and answered many questions about their jobs saving lives and providing fantastic care for residents in our region.
Investing in Martinsville and Henry County is the foundation's priority, and it's important to take time and visit with local agencies and leaders who work to make our community a wonderful place to live, work, and play.
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 one a quarter. Our PUP Small Grants Program is an open process with decisions made in less than six weeks.
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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