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Volunteer Group To Be Launched by Wheeling Heritage

Photo by Alex Meyer The sidewalk outside the Wheeling Artisan Center on Main Street downtown on Tuesday.

A new Wheeling Heritage program aims to bring together volunteers to help improve downtown Wheeling.

The organization will launch its Downtown Wheeling Volunteer Group with an initial meeting scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Artisan Center’s third floor.

All are welcome to attend and get involved in helping brainstorm, plan and carry out various activities and projects, said Alex Weld, Wheeling Heritage project and outreach manager.

“While these activities will incrementally improve our downtown, another huge benefit of this program is that it brings volunteers together and gives them a say in what happens in their community,” Weld said. “We’re hoping to see plenty of new faces at this event.”

Wheeling Heritage worked with volunteer-based committees in the past through its Main Street Program, Weld said, but much of the work wasn’t friendly for volunteers. For example, its design committee was tasked with doing architectural and infrastructure work in planning the Heritage Port Park and Sculpture Garden, she said.

The new volunteer group will provide more opportunities for residents in the Wheeling area to help out with improvement efforts.

“We realized that if we wanted to engage a larger set of volunteers and help people feel like they’re a part of what’s happening downtown, then we need to have more tangible volunteer opportunities,” Weld said.

People are encouraged to bring ideas to Tuesday’s meeting, though pledging help is just fine too, she said.

Ideas already on the table for the volunteer group include beautifying downtown with flowers and more artwork, enhancing First Fridays and the Lunchtime Live concert series as well as holding picnics at downtown parks, Weld said.

“Beautifying downtown gets (volunteers) engaged and empowers them to help with changes that they think need to happen,” she said.

The group also aims to hold community events downtown on Saturdays for kids in the area as a way to encourage more families to live downtown.

“It’s a place where people live now,” Weld said of downtown. “Making it feel like more of its own community through events would be cool.”

In addition, Weld thanked Wheeling native Ellen Gano, who recently returned to the city from the Washington, D.C. area, for conceiving of the volunteer group and spearheading the project.

“This is a new way to engage volunteers and allow them to really lead projects that can make an impact,” Weld added.

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