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Parkersburg Art Center thanks Downtown Ambassadors

Downtown Ambassador Louis Valentine paints during a class in May at the Parkersburg Art Center. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — The Parkersburg Art Center recently got a helping hand from the Downtown Ambassadors Program on some projects and returned the favor with art classes.

The center is working to convert neighboring 713 Market St. into a larger market space, where local artists can sell their wares and other art-related nonprofits can have merchandise, according to Jessie Siefert, managing director of the Parkersburg Art Center. But they found they needed more helping hands than they had on staff, she said.

The United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley connected them with the Downtown Ambassadors Program, which matches clients of residential substance abuse treatment center Recovery Point Parkersburg with downtown businesses and organizations that need help with cleanup, snow removal and other tasks. Working with contractor Phoenix Associates, they performed interior demolition and, most recently, hung drywall.

“Every team from this program has been hard-working and kind,” Siefert said. “We did not know what to expect from this volunteer labor force, but we have been amazed.”

Asked how the Art Center could show its appreciation to the workers, United Way Community Impact Coordinator Sara Hess suggested “a good meal and a little art therapy,” Siefert said.

Downtown Ambassadors, from left, Tex Koch, Jamie Shaw and Adam Devere pose for a photo while working at 713 Market St. on behalf of the Parkersburg Art Center. The group, made up of Recovery Point clients, has assisted the center on a number of projects recently. (Photo Provided)

“That is just what we have done, providing a little food and some art lessons,” Siefert said. “Holding a class with these guys is therapeutic for me as well. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much.”

Hess said the men enjoyed the class, which gave them opportunities to express themselves.

“Jamie Shaw, a class participant, gave me his painting as a way of thanking me. It now proudly hangs in my office,” she said. “The class offered more than paint on a canvas. It gave them a sense of belonging and appreciation for all the service they have done.”

The Downtown Ambassadors have helped improve more than 25 downtown businesses, removed 11,000 pounds of debris from the streets and created opportunities for individuals facing substance abuse disorder, a release from the Art Center said. Downtown business and property owners can contact Hess to discuss future project ideas and avenues of support by calling 304-580-0570.

Information about how to get involved with the Art Center is available by emailing info@parkersburgartcenter.org or call 304-485-3859.

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