Then and Now: Three Be Healthy projects and their community impacts
There’s nothing as satisfying as seeing community-oriented efforts thrive in West Virginia. Since 2019, we’ve had the privilege of supporting many healthy food access and physical activity-based projects across Clay and McDowell Counties.
For the last three years, Be Healthy has provided funding to support various community projects. Some projects have a long-term vision of creating reusable spaces or trails that others can enjoy for many years to come. Others are committed to improving gaps in access immediately.
Whether short or long-term, these projects are all equally impactful in their own way. This month, we’re highlighting a few previous partners for a “then and now” comparison.
Risen Lord Catholic Church | Year One, Two, and Three Partner
Over the last three years, Risen Lord Catholic Church has partnered with Be Healthy funding to help sponsor and support different portions of their food pantry efforts. Each month, the food pantry provides nonperishables and fresh produce to families across Clay County.
With no grocery store in the county, Risen Lord Catholic Church’s food accessibility services are especially critical for residents. Through last year’s Be Healthy funding, they were able to purchase a trailer to transport larger loads of supplies, making fewer costly trips to the food bank in Braxton County, and providing food bank clients with a wider variety of foods and a 25-foot freezer for storage.
Pickleball League and Tournament Establishment | Year Three Partner
In 2019, pickleball took McDowell County by storm. That year, residents from the city of Welch applied for Be Healthy funding to transform one unused tennis court in Linkous Park into four pickleball courts. As the courts began to attract residents of all ages to play, Jay Wilson, an avid pickleball player and community instructor saw the potential.
Wilson, who leads The Community Crossing Inc., applied for funding to create an organized league to support the growing interest in the sport. With Be Healthy support in 2021, the McDowell County Corporate Summer Pickleball League and Tournament were established. This physical activity-oriented project has provided an incredible opportunity for McDowell County residents to stay active and build their relationships with others in their communities.
Clay County Board of Education | Year Three Partner
For rural communities, it can be difficult to find safe, indoor spaces to exercise. Over the last year, that’s changed for Clay County.
In 2021, the Clay Board of Education received Be Healthy funding to assist with the construction of a new community recreational facility to support educational events and other community activities. The funding was directly applied toward the cost of their gymnasium floor. Moving forward, the auxiliary space will serve as a family-friendly event space for athletic assemblies and all other large-scale gatherings, promoting physical health and wellness .
Coalfield Community Action | Year One Partner
In Be Healthy’s first year of operation, the Coalfield Community Action Group received funding to support the revitalization of an existing trail on H.E. White Elementary school grounds. Their goal was to ensure that the trail was safe, maintained, and more accessible to students and other members of the community.
In addition to Be Healthy funding, Clay County community members donated labor, machinery, and time to assist in completing the nearly mile-long project. In Year Two, Be Healthy funded signage and benches to make the park more user-friendly for a variety of ages and physical abilities.