VINTON — With a vision of a better community, volunteers with the Field of Hope Community Campus (FOHCC) are dedicated to the future complete restoration of the former North Gallia High School and surrounding grounds — the site of the complete community outreach project.
Volunteers with the FOHCC have brought life back to the building that has weathered in the just over 20 years since its closure; and, during a recent tour of the campus, the volunteers’ vision and dedication to it was palpable.
According to FOHCC Project Director Kevin Dennis, the effort is centered around three main goals: the establishment of a large food pantry, a youth center and a rehabilitation center.
“There’s three main thrusts. One is an expanded food pantry. We have the food pantry now at Vinton Baptist, and we are out of space. The second is a youth center. The gym will be the centerpiece for that. And, then, the third goal — that is going to take the longest to develop — is going to be the residential rehabilitation center for people caught up in substance abuse,” Dennis recently commented.
Many of the volunteers with FOHCC are members of Vinton Baptist Church, which supports the project and is located across from the Field of Hope site on Ohio 160, and Dennis reported that the beginnings of these three main “thrusts” for the project can already be found at the church in the form of the large food pantry, a huge youth ministry and a rehabilitation program.
However, Dennis stated that input from community members, who are not necessarily church members, is more than encouraged within the project.
“Many people that help with the food pantry, that are part of the youth ministry and that are a part of Gallia Strong Tower — which is our rehab program we have right now — are not members of Vinton Baptist Church, and that’s fine. We want this to be a community effort,” Dennis commented and further stated that, as the project expands, the hope is to form a committee of both church and non-church members, who will oversee the development of the outreach center.
“We want the outreach to be something that meets people’s needs where they are,” he stated. “We don’t have this narrow plan of action. We have a plan of action to see what the needs are and address those in the best way we can.”
In the few years since their acquirement of the 47-acre North Gallia site, FOHCC members have worked to secure approximately $250,000 in grant funding — $200,000 of which was awarded through a United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Brownfield grant that will aid in the cleanup of the campus.
According to Dennis, the $200,000 grant will be utilized in asbestos removal throughout the building and removal of minimal petroleum contamination.
Currently, the first functional building is the former bus barn, where the Wheels of Hope vehicle repair shop is open for business.
Wheels of Hope, as a part of the non-profit FOHCC, provides low-cost maintenance — oil changes, brakes and other vehicle maintenance — to community members in need.
The repair shop is open five days a week and provides oil changes free-of-charge twice a year to needy motorists. The shop is supported through donations and the support of local community members and businesses.
According to Dennis, all of the funding that is garnered through Wheels of Hope helps to provide the materials needed in the shop and wages for the vehicle technician. The remaining funding goes directly back into the larger Field of Hope operation.
While much work still needs to be completed at the campus, Dennis is hopeful that, if an additional community matching grant is received, much progress can be made to the facility in the next one to two years.
“If we got that matching grant, within a year, we’ll have offices, a receiving area, a new roof on that gym, if we get that matching money, we’ve got people standing by that’s already bid on that work. That’s probably optimistic, but I’ll say within two years, for sure,” Dennis said.
The volunteers with FOHCC are also always in search of additional interested community members to donate to not only Wheels of Hope and the Vinton Baptist food pantry, but to donate their time and talents as well to the project and, thus, donate to the betterment of the community.
“We are looking for community members who want to give back, and we have a wonderful outreach that they can be a part of,” Dennis said.
For more information on the Field of Hope Community Campus, contact Kevin Dennis, Project Director, at (740) 794-1027 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the Wheels of Hope low-cost vehicle repair shop, call (740) 388-8114.
For more information on Gallia Strong Tower, a 12-step recovery outreach program of Vinton Baptist Church, call (740) 388-8454. The group meets at 7 p.m. every Wednesday at the church, 11818 Ohio 160, Vinton.