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FAHI works to expand museum

FAHI works to expand museum
Members of the FAHI (Fayette Area Historical Initiative) look forward to growing the organization as they revamp operations at the museum. Pictured from left are India Brown, program officer at The Harvest Foundation, Deborah Mitchell, Faye Holland, Henry Foster, Valeria Edwards, Artis Law, Connie Lewis, Lois Hairston, and Joyce Staples, members of FAHI’s Board of Directors.

Martinsville, Va. — Building a sustainable organization to collect and preserve the history of Martinsville’s Fayette Street Neighborhood, and African-American history throughout the community is essential for one Martinsville-based nonprofit.

FAHI (Fayette Area Historical Initiative) received a three-year grant of $254,468 from The Harvest Foundation to grow the capacity of the museum to develop and implement a targeted strategic plan. The museum also plans to invest in board development and training while creating a marketing and business plan.

“This grant is an investment in a local organization and a community that has positively impacted Martinsville-Henry County, despite its limited resources and funding due to historical disinvestment,” said India Brown, a program officer at The Harvest Foundation. “FAHI’s preservation of African-American history is vital to our community, and its presence in the Fayette Business Corridor is needed for success in uptown revitalization.”

Brown added that dedicated and willing volunteers work hard to keep the museum’s doors open.

“Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, FAHI saw more visitors, more schools taking field trips, and more people using the facility for meetings and small gatherings,” she said. “We have an opportunity to set a standard of excellence for investing in African-American history. Visitors that come to FAHI broaden their cultural knowledge and join the effort to eliminate systemic racism. When we embrace factual history and learn about the contributions of African-Americans to our society, we create a community where all can feel appreciated, valued, and seen.”

Harvest’s investment will further enable FAHI to grow its community outreach, develop relevant programming, expand exhibits, and allow the organization to grow into a premier destination for African-American history.

“FAHI is an integral part of Martinsville’s revitalization effort because of the rich history of the Fayette Corridor,” said Joyce Staples, chair of the FAHI Board of Directors. “The effort unites the diverse culture of the Martinsville-Henry County area and helps the public remember and celebrate the contributions of African-American pioneers and trendsetters.

FAHI opened its current location, the former Imperial Savings and Loan bank building, in 2011. It includes exhibit space and special collections for artifacts. The museum plans to offer additional hours and days of operation as it develops its infrastructure.

Visitors are welcome Wednesdays and every third Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers will schedule group tours upon request. Call (276) 732-3496 or visit fahimuseum.org to learn more.

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