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Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley opening People First Cafe in Parkersburg

West Virginia native and 2011 “America’s Got Talent” winner Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. will attend ribbon cutting for the People First Cafe in Parkersburg Monday and teach a master class for WVU Parkersburg. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley and the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. Monday to celebrate the grand opening of the People First Cafe at 1118 20th St., adjacent to Parkersburg High School.

The People First Cafe will provide a variety of seasonal and specialty coffees, food and baked goods for breakfast, light fare for lunch and a vocational training site for people with disabilities.

“We are pleased and proud to announce the grand opening of the People First Cafe,” said Liz Ford, executive director of the Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley. “It has been our dream to utilize our building to provide employment skills for those we serve. Our mission is to encourage and support people with disabilities to live, learn, work, worship and play in their community, and we believe the cafe will further that mission.”

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., the 2011 “America’s Got Talent” winner, will be on hand to help celebrate and promote his upcoming Christmas concert at the Smoot Theatre. He will also teach a master class for West Virginia University at Parkersburg, a concert sponsor.

“We are blessed to live in a community that is so collaborative in nature and provides so many supports,” Ford said. “From our board of directors to related agencies and funders, we have been truly blessed to bring the cafe to fruition. We hope members of the community will stop by and help us further our mission.”

The cafe has been several years in the making. The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation made a connection for the Arc with the Social Enterprise Ecosystem team at Ohio University through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. This connection led to a feasibility study and implementation plan. The Sisters Health Foundation, First Energy and the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation provided funding.

Della Lyons, a former staff member and volunteer at The Arc, led the effort to transform a former beauty shop into the People First Cafe. Recovery Point of Parkersburg helped with renovations, providing more than 200 hours of volunteer time.

The Arc is collaborating with SW Resources to provide vocational training and employment opportunities to people with disabilities with an interest in the food service industry. The Arc will also work with Westbrook Health Services to provide additional opportunities for vocational training.

The Arc also provides employment and vocational training at two thrift shops in Parkersburg and a fingerprinting business in its Dudley Avenue building.

In addition to The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley, the offices of West Virginia Birth to Three RAU 2, People First of West Virginia, and The Arc of West Virginia are located at 1915 and 1917 Dudley Ave.

For further information on how to support The Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley, call 304-422-3151.

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