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Academy for Community Leadership boosts #GivingTuesday

Carrie Copenhaver, left, drops off a donation for the Henry County Expo Center on #GivingTuesday. Mary Hammons, right, is one of the Academy for Community Leadership members collecting donations for the project.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Each year for the past three decades, the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce has supported future leaders.

This past Tuesday, a class of those leaders supported the Henry County Expo Center.

The Academy for Community Leadership (ACL) was designed to “develop an informed citizenry who will influence Henry County’s future.”

The 2018 ACL class started in August and met every Tuesday morning for the next several months at different locations around Henry County to get a better understanding of what’s available to the community.

This year’s class included student-athletes, realtors, elected officials, non-profit administrators, new professionals moving to the community and long-time residents.

The class visited the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, the Henry County Animal Shelter, Memorial Park, the Henry County Art Association, the Middletown Fall Creek Township Historical Society, the Guyer Opera House, Draper, the Wilbur Wright Birthplace and Museum and the Henry County Courthouse.

Each ACL class works on projects to help improve the community in some way. The Class of 2018 undertook a large group project to help mobilize Henry County to get behind the idea of giving to others.

The leadership class organized an initiative called “Henry County Gives,” which focused on encouraging local participation in #GivingTuesday, the international day of giving that follows Thanksgiving, the Black Friday rush and Shop Local Saturday.

Along with promoting #GivingTuesday in general, the 2018 Academy for Community Leadership worked to raise money for the Henry County Expo Center project on that day.

Expo Center details

The Henry County Expo Center is a new facility being built on the south side of Memorial Park, west of the Henry County Saddle Club. The facility is designed to host the annual Henry County 4-H Fair each summer and other events throughout the year.

A 55,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose building will be able accommodate indoor sporting events, trade shows, car shows and livestock shows.

The 11,200 sq. ft. banquet hall will be available for company meetings and conferences, weddings and receptions, conventions and school dances.

There will also be 1,600 sq. ft of training and classroom space. The Henry County Purdue Extension office plans to relocate to the Expo Building, so it can be closer to indoor 4-H club space, as well.

The total project is $5.2 million, with the Henry County government setting aside $1.2 million. The Henry County Expo Center Board reached out to the community to raise the rest of the $4 million, either financially or with in-kind donations.

The Henry County Community Foundation pledged $300,000 in matching grant money for all donations under $10,000.

Raising the money

Classmates in the 2018 Academy for Community Leadership collected donations all day Tuesday at the W.G. Smith Building in Memorial Park to help support the Expo Center.

They distributed flyers, wrote letters to Henry County newspapers and spoke with local radio stations to get the word out. They also created a website and used social media to help promote the ideas of donating to local charities and specifically helping the Expo Center.

Donors were able to get donuts in the morning, hot dogs and chili for lunch and a dessert on the way home.

There were also blue prints, 3D renderings and a scale model of the Expo Center available for donors to look at when they stopped by.

By the end of the day, the 2018 Academy for Community Leadership raised $7,877 for the Expo Center through their efforts.

With the matching funds from the Community Foundation, that amounts to $15,754 in community donations in just a single day.

Visit hcgivingtuesday.com/ to read more about the Academy for Community Leadership’s efforts to support the Expo Center.

Continuing to make progress

Expo Campaign Chair Cathy Hamilton said the Expo board has already raised enough money to construct the large multi-purpose building. The board will continue to raise money to fund the rest of the project.

“I have no doubt that this center will bring honor to the county while serving its citizens, young and older, for many decades to come,” Hamilton said.

The Expo Center Board is hosting a donor dinner and Christmas party at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at The Gathering in Lewisville as a thank you to everyone who has supported the project so far.

The Christmas meal will be prepared by Inga Neal of Temptations.

To RSVP, email chamilton@henrycountyexpocenter.com or call 765-465-4200.

Donations to the Expo Center can also be made online at www.paypal.me/henryExpo.