Harvest's impact spreading

July 1, 2007

Last week's Harvest Foundation grants stand good chances of having an impact on the quality of life in this area.

The Fieldale Community Center's $28,000 grant was for operating funds to improve the building and implement strategic planning to strengthen the center and its role in the community. Improvements include adding air conditioning, increasing space for exercise rooms and adding pool umbrellas.

The center truly is the heart of the Fieldale community, and residents there have worked hard to help the village overcome the loss of Pillowtex. Through festivals and other activities, they have kept the area in the public eye and focused on the unique mill town heritage. With an investment in the community center, the Harvest Foundation is saying that it wants to help both the center and the village thrive.

The $89,250 grant to the Martinsville Uptown Revitalization Association (MURA) will fund outdoor entertainment this summer in the uptown area. Things such as "Lunch on the Lawn" at the old courthouse, "Tunes at Twilight" live music, films and a "Fun Run/Bike Race" are among those envisioned.

Like the Fieldale grant, this recognizes the importance of the uptown area to the community, and bringing people back to it may contribute to its resurgence. The grant also acknowledges that affordable, accessible entertainment is critical to the quality of life for residents.

The Piedmont Arts grant of $263,000 will be used for more community and school projects for children; artwork in public spaces, and expanding exhibit space in the association's building. PAA is a real asset to this area. Spreading its influence and the awareness of art is a good investment.

Harvest's fourth funding announcement last week was $1.56 million over three years for an initiative based on the nationwide "Complete Streets" movement. That involves planning, designing and building infrastructure that people — especially pedestrians and bicyclists — need. It also focuses on development that fosters healthy lifestyles.

In the past, Harvest has funded things such as the free clinic and the coalition for health and wellness, which deal with immediate health issues and education. Its latest grant is a long-term effort that deals with creating a healthier community. That is a worthy goal and we will watch with interest how it unfolds.

In all, these grants seem to be recognizing the good things that are here and investing in their future, as well as that of the community's health. They are money well-spent.


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