WHEELING, W.Va. – Truly embracing the community spirit of Show of Hands, not one but two presenters left the event on May 24 with checks to fund their ideas for downtown Wheeling.
Show of Hands is a community-supported crowdfunding event hosted by Wheeling Heritage. Four presenters pitch their ideas. Then, those in attendance cast a vote on the project they feel will best impact Downtown Wheeling. The winner leaves with a check to put towards that project. This event raised a total of $3,740 for the winning presentation.
The highest vote-getter was the Vigilant Books and Coffee project. Chuck Wood and Vera Uyehara, who own the former North Wheeling firehouse, pitched their idea to begin the transformation of the building into a coffee shop and bookstore.
The money from Show of Hands, they explained, would be used to remove the paint from the façade of the building at 648 and 650 Main Street, the first of many steps they’ve outlined to get the building open for business.
Revealing the original masonry and cast terra cotta underneath the paint “is critical for visually demonstrating the rebirth of the building and inspiring future contributions,” Wood said. “We hope our example will lead others to bring back mom and pop shops that are meeting places for the community.”
After votes were cast and tallied, Jake Dougherty, Wheeling Heritage Executive Director, announced that only two votes separated first and second place – the closest vote in the history of Show of Hands.
When Vigilant Books and Coffee was announced as the winner, another Show of Hands first took place as Wood walked up to the microphone.
“I have a suggestion,” he said. “Since there’s only two votes difference, why don’t we split it?”
With a standing ovation from the crowd, Bike Wheeling was announced as the runner-up. Jim Adams, who has spearheaded the grassroots organization, joined them on stage.
Bike Wheeling’s plans include holding a community event with free bicycle helmets, purchasing and installing bicycle racks in Wheeling, and promoting bicycle safety and education. One goal of the organization is to have Wheeling listed as an official Bicycle Friendly Community, Adams explained, which would bring more people to the city and increase use of the area’s bike trails.
Vigilant Books and Coffee and Bike Wheeling each left the event with $1,870. However, each of the four presenters left with stronger community support.
The event’s other presenters included Ribbons-N-Bows Boutique, a Centre Market business that sells bows, tutus and other children’s accessories. Owner Michelle Fluharty pitched her idea to repaint the façade of the building and add signage, as well as begin selling helium balloons.
Second Chance Technology, an organization that refurbishes computers and gives them to needy families, also presented a project idea. Stacy Nixon said she has already donated five refurbished computers to those who could not afford them. She would have used the funding to expand the program.
Since its creation in 2014, Show of Hands has given $28,155 to the community. Orrick, the program’s corporate sponsor, donates $1,000 for each event. The Friends of Show of Hands, which consists of community members and business owners, also contribute to each event. In 2016, Show of Hands received $4,000 from the Governor’s Innovation Awards.
About Wheeling Heritage
Since its inception in 1994 as a 501(c)(3) organization, Wheeling Heritage has played an integral role in shaping the city’s development. We built the award-winning riverfront park, Heritage Port, and developed the Artisan Center, a renovated industrial building with a three-story atrium in the heart of downtown. We made key investments in the former Wheeling Stamping Building that became home to international law firm Orrick, a redevelopment recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We were and continue to be a partner in the revitalization of the landmark Capitol Theatre. We are spearheading a grassroots restoration of Mt. Wood Cemetery. Through the Wheeling Heritage Trails and historic markers around the city, we’ve helped visitors and outdoor enthusiasts learn about the city and its notable past. In 2016, Wheeling Heritage merged with Reinvent Wheeling, the city’s Main Street program, adding programs that focus on small business development, city planning, public art, and promotions. Our community-driven programs seek to protect the stories of industry, transportation, and culture that are characteristic of Wheeling.
Project and Outreach Manager