Since hosting its first ice cream social for local community members nearly three decades ago, Harpers Ferry Boosters Inc. has been making things happen in its small community one bake sale at a time.
In July 2013, the Boosters created an endowment fund at the Allamakee County Community Foundation to build financial stability. Endowments are invested and pay out 5% annually to designated nonprofits, providing a reliable source of income to sustain organizations’ operations forever.
This year, the Boosters received their first payout from their endowed fund. “Our endowment payout has replaced the best bake sale we’ve ever had,” says Foundation Coordinator and Booster President Betty Steege.
In June 2014, as part of a partnership with the Foundation and a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, the Boosters led a new initiative called Harpers Ferry/Vision for Our Future, a community-visioning project designed to plan for the future of Harpers Ferry.
In June, Mayor Jerry Valley hosted a Vision for Our Future dinner to discuss the results of seven “Community Conversations” sessions that explored community needs and dreams.
“It was always great growing up in Harpers,” says Jerry. He hopes the Vision for Our Future initiative will help bring back the Harpers he remembers from his childhood.
Working groups are currently planning community improvements to address four themes that arose from these conversations: increasing the number of young families, growing small business and jobs, enhancing service to tourists, and increasing the number of permanent residents.
“I think it means a lot of hope and possibilities for the future of Harpers Ferry,” says Betty. “If we can just accomplish a couple of the ideas that people bring and create good will, that’s huge.”