A seed is planted downtown | Opinion

The citizens of Beckley too rarely have the opportunity to collectively celebrate a day of hope and inspiration, a day that provides simple signposts of better days ahead, a day when it is easier to look ahead , towards the promise of what this city could and should be a day to re-examine our core values. In an instant, we saw the potential for a single company to change negative perceptions on their ear and interrupt our preoccupation with the broken buildings of bankrupt businesses, declining populations, empty retail storefronts lining the Once-thriving downtown streets, desperately looking for a needle, of a coal industry worn down by global concerns about the effect of carbon on our common climate.

Last Monday, with the inauguration of the Fruits of Labor building in the heart of the City of Champions, was such a day to look again at what we have, what is added and what comes next.

Fruits of Labor is the kind of business you’d want in your downtown core if you had access to the levers of power, governance, and city funds to make it happen — as Mayor Rob Rappold did. The cafe and bakery boasts a record of success that precedes it, having shined a stellar reputation in three other southern West Virginia communities – Rainelle, Alderson and Montgomery.

But Tammy Jordan, president of Fruits of Labor, has another initiative associated with the company that, in the end, is even more satisfying than all the food that comes out of her kitchens. Part of his mission is to use his business to educate, train, certify and employ people in recovery. For her to do this in the southern coalfields where drug addiction and overdose death rates dominate the country — and have for some time — is simply admirable and humane.

The location and size of the new dig, the former Zen’s Café building on Neville Street, Jordan says, is critical. She plans to use each of the building’s three floors, which will include a cafe and bakery, coffee shop, and conference space.

The center will provide employment, training and advancement opportunities for students participating in the Fruits of Labor program, as well as recovery support resources through Seed Sower, WorkForce (West Virginia), Jobs of Hope and various partners to provide a holistic approach to recovery. , Jordan said at the public dedication of the building on Monday.

That Rappold was able to strike a deal to convince Jordan to expand his mini empire into a long-suffering downtown landscape was and remains awe-inspiring.

There will be plenty of time for the details of the lease to be made public, inked and signed, as some voices in the city are screaming. But for now, let’s break bread, united in one vision and one goal to provide opportunities for those in recovery. Let Beckley become a place of healing, a community where all are welcome and valued for their skills and talents in making the community whole and diverse.

We believe a seed of transformation has been planted in fertile soil, right in the middle of our city, our home, the hub of southern West Virginia.

Now let’s take care of our garden.

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