By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
The seeds for the upcoming Olde Huntersville Neighbors Helping Neighbors Fair actually took root in March 2014, which is when Beatrice Garvin-Thompson became the new president of the neighborhood civic league in Huntersville.
This means Garvin-Thompson looked at the blight around her and decided to do more than wring her hands or complain. Specifically, she helped plan the upcoming upward-mobility fair, which will held on Sept. 26 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the corner of Washington Ave. and O’Keefe Streets in Huntersville.
The fair will include many activities that aim to reduce poverty in the area. To host the fair, Olde Huntersville Civic League partnered with the City of Norfolk, faith-based groups, businesses, and non-profits.
“This collaborative outreach … is being sponsored to provide the resources and the supportive services needed to assist individuals desiring to move proactively towards economic self-reliance and independence,” Garvin-Thompson said in a recent press release.
The goal is to “combat the pervasive level of poverty that’s crippling the community’s economic growth and stifling the upward mobility potential of its most valuable asset…its resident,” Garvin-Thompson added.
Launched in response to the Mayor’s Commission, which aims to reduce poverty in target areas in the City of Norfolk, the upcoming event is one of many that aims to improve the neighborhood she has called home for most of her 60-something years.
“It is a community that is rich in history and tradition,” Garvin-Thompson said in an interview last fall after she assumed office in March.
But “the neighborhood started to take on the appearance of blightedness,” said Garvin-Thompson who works professionally as a community economic developer. “No longer was it the pride of our city or the African-American community.”
Still, like a seed sprouts into a brand-new plant, and changes its surroundings. The neighborhood civic group has breathed new life into Huntersville. In addition to marketing and rebranding the neighborhood, which led to national coverage, the civic group also designed a new logo that features a crepe myrtle tree and an old antique light.
It has also conducted several beautification projects such as recycling, planting flowers and upgrading residential homes. Some residents are involved in the citizen’s police academy. And more folks attend the civic league’s monthly meeting at the Huntersville Community Center.
“A Norfolk Block by Block Matching Grant and donations from the broader community made it possible for the league to finance this event,” Garvin-Thompson explained.
In the event of inclement weather, the fair will be held at Union United Church of Christ, 877 Goff St., Norfolk.