By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
When you see announcements of “happenings” at the Uptown Event Center in Clarksburg, are you familiar with what and where it is and how it might be useful to you? The building, located behind the Courthouse in Clarksburg, has been around for a long time; now it has a new name … and the list of it uses is a long one!
The Uptown Event Center is the former location of the YWCA, located at 305 Washington Avenue in Clarksburg. Unfortunately, local YWCA members had difficulties with funding to keep the building operational and were faced with a difficult decision a couple of years ago. To no longer exist or to reorganize and remain alive … that was the question. As it turned out, answering the question was an easy one because their desire to remain a part of the community was undeniable. But getting there has taken considerable work and creativity!
A core group of the membership reorganized and now call themselves the Progressive Women’s Association (PWA). They are the governing body of the Uptown Event Center and are responsible for keeping it functioning. The organization is non-profit and depends totally on rentals of the facility and fundraisers to keep it going. The lot located adjacent to the facility that is utilized for paid private parking also helps as a source of income.
Although it may have been a real struggle at first, the great effort put forth has been worth it. In the past two years, they have given a new look and feel to the building. The Uptown Event Center has undergone a transformation that has included fresh paint throughout the entire center’s interior, new carpet, a fully functional commercial kitchen, and more … which has begun to draw notice among those in the community. And the PWA continues to offer a variety of events designed to entice even more people to visit the center.
According to the Center’s Director Elinda Carson, “The more activities that are held there and the more people who visit this facility, the more they realize how it can be utilized and for such a variety of events! Word has begun to get out now, and because many of the events that have been held here encompass such diverse interests, that has been a drawing card and a real plus for the center’s exposure.”
For example, the Uptown Event Center has hosted a back-to-school drive, a birthday celebration for the American Red Cross, a wrestling match, a cookbook display that was a tribute to the late Mr. James LaRosa, and most recently, an African American Museum. Square dancing as well as ballroom dancing instruction has been held there. A food pantry is now established to help needy families through referrals. Vintage Theater Company has offered mystery theater performances there. The list goes on and on, and you can see how many interests are touched at Uptown Event Center activities!
Many activities are free to the public and are offered exclusively to be a means of personal support. For instance, a bereavement group meets monthly (the 3rd Thursday of each month at 6 p.m.) in one of the center’s meeting rooms. There, they share their pain and struggles and learn that they are not the only ones who are suffering a loss. It is a ‘healing’ atmosphere and friendships develop. Group excursions are even planned that offer a distraction from sorrow and bring enjoyment.
On September 12th, Mrs. West Virginia International 2014 will host “Dinner with Diabetics” from 6 to 8 p.m. in the dining room. Those affected by diabetes are encouraged to bring their favorite diabetic dish and share their recipes. Lots of information will be available to assist with meal planning and to help meet diabetic dietary needs on a daily basis.
Married couples may benefit from a discussion group lasting eight weeks that will begin at the Uptown Event Center (upstairs conference room) on Monday, September 22nd at 7 p.m. The focus of this group will be to help couples maintain a positive, long-lasting relationship. Some of the topics will include parenting as a team effort, career and financial considerations, and meeting individual needs in a relationship – among others.
And Dave and Sugar will bring ‘Kountry Karaoke’ to the Uptown Event Center on Friday, September 26th from 8 to 11 p.m. It’s free and open to the public! Come and enjoy a fun evening of community entertainment.
Folks in the area can also rent the Uptown Event Center for their private use. Looking for a place to hold a card party to benefit your organization? Need a venue for an elimination dinner? Birthday party? Baby/bridal shower? Reception? Meeting? Play? School fundraiser? The possibilities are limitless! The dining room can comfortably seat over 100 people at tables. The rental fee is just $50 an hour, and staff will take care of setting up as well as cleanup for you! Need time to decorate for your function in advance? As long as the facility has no other activity scheduled, arrangements can be made to allow you access for decorating prior to your activity. If your occasion requires use of the kitchen, that too is very affordable – just an extra $10 an hour. The Uptown Event Center is available seven days a week to accommodate your event … and an elevator makes it fully accessible to even those with mobility issues.
“We’re so very proud of the transformation of this building,” Director Elinda Carson added. “It has become a very warm and inviting facility with the changes that have occurred, and I have developed a real love affair for this center. I could talk for hours about its possibilities!”
If you would like to help support the Uptown Event Center, consider becoming a member of the PWA. Single memberships are just $20 … or become a member for $25 and commit to 15 volunteer hours at the center to receive a free yearly rental of the facility! Non-profits can join for $50, and with 15 volunteer hours, they too will receive a free rental yearly as well as no charge for monthly board meetings held at the center. Businesses, too, are welcome to join for $150, which also earns them a free rental plus 10% discounts on additional rentals.
Fifty-five members are currently active at the Uptown Event Center with many members volunteering their time.
“Clarksburg is very committed to revitalizing the uptown area and we want to be a part of helping it to thrive,” Carson concluded. “We feel that the more events we have going on at our facility, the more people will see our city and the more potential for shoppers to do business in our city!”
To learn more about programs or rental possibilities at the Uptown Event Center, call 304-624-6881. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.