HARTVILLE, Mo. – A city dream two years in the making will finally come true. Hartville will soon receive nearly half a million dollars from the Missouri Department of Economic Development to help fund its new community program, The Thrive Center. Lauren Hughes, President of the Community Betterment Foundation, says she wants the building to have useful resources for students and adults.
“Our goals with this organization is to fill in the gaps in the community wherever it’s needed,” Hughes said. “Right now, revitalization is very much needed here, restoration. We’ve done several different projects. This is our third project that we’ve done. We definitely want to help in any area that we can.”
The $492,338 grant will be used for brick and window repairs.
When you go inside, the first floor will feature an eatery.
“We hope to be self-sustaining,” Hughes said. “Have a business model to be able to earn our own income.”
Most of the downstairs area will be dedicated to education and community activities for adults. It will have a community classroom and several meeting rooms. Hughes says the Community Betterment Foundation will partner with Missouri State University and West Plains.
“We want to do more community classes and just fun things,” Hughes said. “And partner with different area organizations to be able to do that.”
The upstairs level will offer a space for students to learn life skills, including how to do laundry, how to cook and live healthily. It’ll have a student lounge, study rooms, a kitchen training room, and a laundry room.
“We want to fill in the gaps of whatever the school cannot provide, we want to be able to provide here,” Hughes said. “We’re still working with the school to create this program that is going to be custom-fitted for our local communities.”
Overall, this project will cost $1.2 million. Hughes says the price is worth it given the poverty rate in the community. In Wright County, 24 percent of families live below the national poverty level, and 39 percent of kids 17 and younger are in need.
Superintendent of Hartville Schools Mark Piper says around 70 percent of the district’s students qualify for a free-and-reduced lunch. Piper looks forward to what The Thrive Center will offer kids.
“They’re gonna partner with the school and providing the educational opportunities that would be reinforcing the things that we do or introducing new educational opportunities for students,” Piper said. “They’ll be supervised, and that is just something we don’t have. It’s something we’re looking forward to and I think it’ll be a great benefit to our students.”
Piper says the project will give the area something it lacks.
“There is really not anything for students to do after school,” Piper said. “They can go get something to eat, but outside of that, there is really nothing for them to do. This will be the only place that kids can go… and have constructive or productive things to do.”
The project is still in its early stages, and Hughes’ Foundation is asking the public for donations to speed things up. Donations can be made at Progressive Ozark Bank, US Bank, and the Foundation’s website.