CLIFTON FORGE — Appalfolks of America Association has launched its annual Giving Tree Fund Drive that will consist of a letter-writing appeal for funds to compensate for the shortfall of funds brought about by COVID-19.
“(Appalfolks) will complete its 35th year of community service as a nonprofit organization this month, and as the late Poet Laureate of Kentucky, the late Dr. Jim Wayne Miller, once said, ‘Appalfolks is a force for good in Appalachia’,” said M. Ray Allen, Appalfolks founder and president.
Because COVID-19 forced Appalfolks to postpone or cancel 10 of its theatrical productions after the World Health Organization designated Coronavirus as a pandemic in March, the nonprofit organization’s plan to restore the WXCF studio building as a recording studio and headquarters was revised to compensate for losing its primary revenue stream, funds derived from ticket sales, as well as corporate sponsorships of its theatrical productions, namely The Virginia Opry and STARS (Special Theatrical Artists Revue and Showcase).
“COVID-19 has created hardships for arts organizations and businesses worldwide, but to put it in the form of a cliché, we are not broken, just badly bent,” Allen continued.
Appalfolks was founded in 1985 by Allen, a teacher and coach at Alleghany High School at the time, and the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization received the Historic Stonewall Theatre in 1991 as a charitable donation from Irwin R. Cohen, owner of R-C Theatres located in Reisterstown, Md.
After 12 years of making more than $200,000 worth of restoration improvements, staging hundreds of concerts and theatrical events, and founding such outreach programs as The Virginia Opry and STARS, Appalfolks donated the theatre to the town of Clifton Forge in 2003.
The Giving Tree Fund Drive was established to help Appalfolks raise the funds needed to keep the theatre open and make the improvements necessary, including rendering the theatre ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant by remodeling the restrooms and adding handicap accessible ramps along with making the necessary adjustments in the seating areas.
STARS was founded in 1996 as an outreach for anyone who faced intellectual challenges and/or physical disabilities, and the troupe of 12 performers has grown to 29 over the years.
The Virginia Opry made its debut on Oct. 17, 1992 with a troupe of 12, and Gov. Ralph S. Northam signed Senate Bill 283 on March 31, 2020, that designates The Virginia Opry as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Official Opry.
State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a patron of the theatre and native of Bath Country, will be a special guest at The Historic Masonic Theatre on Friday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. for The Virginia Opry’s “Alleghany Highlands’ Christmas Show” featuring Gentlemen South opening for Crimson River with Jana Allen serving as emcee and vocalist.
Jana will induct Bill Wade Jr., a guitarist and vocalist, as the 41st member of The Virginia Opry.
Deeds filed Senate Bill 283 on Jan. 8, and his bill passed the Virginia Senate 40-0 and the Virginia House of Delegates 93-6.
The show, a musical gift to the Alleghany Highlands, is being co-sponsored by The Historic Masonic Theatre and Appalfolks. It may be viewed without cost by visiting the theatre’s Facebook at 7 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 18.
“This year’s Giving Tree Fund Drive is more important to our nonprofit organization than ever before due to the financial setback that COVID-19 has wrought,” Allen continued.
Appalfolks has conducted more than 30 fundraising benefits and contributed to other nonprofit organizations such as the Highlands Christmas Mother, Clifton Forge Are Food Pantry, Salvation Army, Alleghany Highlands Free Clinic, Clifton Forge Public Library, TAP (Total Action For Progress), Clifton Forge Little League, 911 Fund, Wounded Warriors Project, Fishing with Angels, and CAYA Ministries.
“It is our aim to live up to Dr. Jim Wayne Miller’s praise for our organization by continuing to be that “force for good” that he perceived (Appalfolks) to be,” Allen concluded.
The Virginian Review has been serving Covington, Clifton Forge, Alleghany County and Bath County since 1914.