By Carol Vaughn —
The Island Community House on Chincoteague will hold an open house Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to formally introduce the facility and its offerings to the public.
The house, formerly known as the Selby House, has been renovated and converted into a community gathering place. It is at 6246 Mumford St., behind the movie theater.
The Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce will hold an outdoor ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m.
The open house is an all-day event to allow for small groups and social distancing.
Local artisans and holiday treats will be at the event, as well as information about upcoming ICH activities. Team Brianna Town Park fundraiser items also will be available to purchase.
The community house got its start when David Landsberger purchased the house, which needed renovations, with the intent to turn it into a place where Chincoteague’s senior citizens, children, and others could gather for activities.
“He decided he was going to renovate it….They made it into a beautiful, open floor plan. …There are so many possibilities for this place,” said Cindy Faith, who recently took on the job of ICH coordinator.
There had been discussions over the years about Chincoteague’s senior citizens in particular needing a place to gather, after senior services formerly provided at what is now the Chincoteague Cultural Alliance building ceased.
“There just really hasn’t been anything to replace it,” Faith said.
The community house opened a little over a year ago and was just gaining momentum when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing it to shut down.
The goal of the open house is to create awareness of the facility and explain its offerings — including senior and youth activities; community events; guest speakers; yoga, art, and other classes; satellite classes from Eastern Shore Community College; a commercial kitchen; and rental space for private gatherings.
Not all of those activities are happening right now due to pandemic restrictions, but Faith said, “We want it to be a place for the community; I want them to feel like it’s their house.”
The building “couldn’t be in a better location,” right downtown, Faith said, noting there is ample parking nearby and the trolley stops right across the street.
TEAM BRIANNA PLAYGROUND FUNDRAISER
The Island Community House is serving as the nonprofit host for the Team Brianna Town Park fundraiser.
Donna Leonard and Cindy Faith are heading up the fundraiser.
Land for the park, which is on Smith Street, was purchased by Landsberger and donated to the town, with the request that it be used for a playground and an athletic field.
Faith credited Landsberger with supporting “almost every nonprofit on this island this year and (helping) them survive this year, quietly.”
Money raised will go to create a sensory playground named in honor of Brianna Merritt, who died last year at age 11 after battling cancer for three years.
“Her upbeat attitude and request that everyone ‘Be Kind’ has spurred a real movement in the island and beyond. It’s really an incredible thing to see,” said Faith.
Teams around Chincoteague are planning creative fundraisers for the playground, such as Capt. Steve’s 2020 Annual Surf Fishing Tournament, held recently to benefit the project.
“We are reaching out to the community and beyond to help support the finances of this park,” Leonard said.
A sensory playground is one that contains accessible playground equipment and activities that stimulate children’s senses — touch, movement, smell, taste, sight, hearing, and balance.
That could include items such as outdoor musical instruments, among other equipment.
While sensory playgrounds are geared somewhat towards children with special needs, all children can enjoy them, according to Leonard.
A presentation by a professional playground designer from the company Third Little Pig will be made at the Dec. 8 meeting of the town recreation and community enhancement committee, at 5 p.m., Leonard said.
“Brianna’s wish was for everybody to be kind — to do something kind for somebody every day,” Leonard said, adding, “So we are carrying that wish throughout the playground. It might be just little quotes here and there; it might be a pile of seashells that are decorated with ‘Be Kind’ quotes; it might be rocks that people paint; it might be signs.”
The park in addition to the playground will include a multi-use athletic field — a place for the town’s youth soccer players to practice and play, among other uses.
Organizers are hoping to raise enough money to also build a fitness trail for adults, with workout stations around the park’s perimeter.
The Team Brianna challenge is open to businesses, individuals, and organizations. Organize and name a squad, plan a fundraiser, and register a Team Brianna squad with Faith at Island Community House by dropping off the information at 6146 Mumford St., Monday through Friday, noon to 3 p.m.; mailing a completed form to P. O. Box 97, Chincoteague, VA 23336; or emailing [email protected]
Information also is on Facebook at Brianna’s Wish.
Call with questions about the Team Brianna Town Park fundraiser to 757-894-1953 or 757-990-1022 or email [email protected]
Send a donation by mail to:
Island Community House
P.O. Box 97
Chincoteague, VA 23336.
Donations also may be made online at https://islandcommunityhouse.org/team-brianna-town-park
Donor gift cards are available at Shore Post Parcel and Business Center, which also is the retail headquarters for Team Brianna T-shirts, coffee cups, window stickers, hoodies, tote bags, Christmas ornaments, masks, aprons, and more.
Shore Post Parcel and Business Center is at 4019 Main St, across from the old firehouse.
Shipping is available — email [email protected] or [email protected] for details.
The Shore Post and Parcel Business Center Squad challenged other island businesses to match their donation to the cause. Businesses that have accepted the challenge so far are Daisey’s Island Cruises, Morrison Dental Clinic, Sundial Books, Refuge Inn, The Bike Depot, and Miss Molly’s Inn.
Island Community House is on Facebook. The website is islandcommunityhouse.org
Contact Cindy Faith at 757-336-1993 with any questions about ICH or the open house.