This week has been quiet, as we do not have activities for the teens during the 4th of July. But, I would like to share of a visit we hosted this fall with an ARC representative from Washington DC. Our local Mayor came out to visit with our local ARC and National Representative. This visit happened three days after sending in a letter of intent for a grant to help build our new programming facility. This was a very ironic planned visit. We had been invited to turn in an intent letter, then received a call later asking if we would show them our facility and talk about the programs we offer at Rural Resources during the Representatives visit of East Tennessee. What a true God send this was! The National Representative was extremely impressed with our teen training program and our outreach in the communities for low-income families. We fully believe he put a good word in for this grant. In May, we were asked to apply, and were guaranteed as long as we raised $100,000 from the community for the facility. The grant was for $300,000. When we were given notice, we had 6 weeks to raise the funds. This was a challenge. Greene County is one of the highest unemployment ratings in East Tennessee, and considered one of the Strike Force counties. We had our work cut out. We put together news releases, news letters, social media, and spoke with some of our local companies to help reach our goal. With a lot of community support and contributions from people and organizations far and wide, we raised 112% of the funds we needed! The grant has been written with t’s crossed and i’s dotted. We are anticipating a fall start of our new training facility!
In the spring of 2009, to be precise Good Friday, lightning struck a tree behind our office building, fell on top, and the rest was history!
We have been working out of a loaned construction trailer, maybe a 40’X10′ space for 8 staff members. Our Farm and Food Teen Training Program has been functioning in a small farm office in the side of our chicken coop barn. The space is not heated/cooled and is in a barn. So, we get all kind of visitors in our training room. This spring we had a bird with a nest of eggs! That is probably the most exciting guest we have had. It was wonderful to hear the babies chirping. By the time we put a table, chairs, fridge, and a few book shelves to house class materials, we have a path around the room. When there are 12 bodies in there, we cannot move! This new facility will allow our program to have a room large enough to house supplies, teens, and give us stretching room for my many up-and-about activities. The building will also have a certified commercial kitchen! The teens are looking very forward to this, as we will be able to add value-added products to our teen businesses. The teens run businesses to learn how to start food-related businesses of their own, teamwork, and leadership skills. With adding value-added products, the teens can explore new avenues and produce safe quality products. We will also be able to meet during the winter and not have to borrow other facilities, and meet at anytime during the summer without fighting the heat. It will be nice to work in a facility without pulling all the materials out of totes and putting them back in totes to keep them from getting ruined. It will also be nice to place posters and other educational materials we use on the walls and know they will stay there and not have to be removed to put something else up we need.
We all are very excited, but I think the teens and myself are more excited at the possibilities for growth and expansion of the training program. (well, other than our one staff who has been telling us of a new concept – indoor flushable toilets! She said all the big towns have them!)