County Connections: Baltimore Downtown Restoration Committee fueled by passionate local advocates

0
6
county-connections:-baltimore-downtown-restoration-committee-fueled-by-passionate-local-advocates
County Connections: Baltimore Downtown Restoration Committee fueled by passionate local advocates

Tracy Kelly  |  Special to the Eagle-Gazette

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”– Margaret J. Wheatley

Founded in 2007, the Baltimore Downtown Restoration Committee is a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to serving, and celebrating, the Village of Baltimore. And in the 16 years since its inception, the accomplishments of the BDRC have literally changed the landscape of Fairfield County.

At the heart of this movement is the Victoria Opera House. The last historic opera house in Fairfield County, this storied structure represents the very blend of tradition and innovation that characterizes the Committee’s work.

From new lighting and windows to HVAC and accessibility upgrades, Baltimore Downtown Restoration has partnered with the Village of Baltimore and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to breathe new life into this landmark. But while it is a rallying point for its members, and a home for many of its events, the work of the BDRC extends far outside the walls of the opera house – resonating through our county, and the surrounding communities.

Supported by fundraisers, memberships, and grants, the BDRC encompasses an array of awareness-building activities, shining a simultaneous light on small-town charm and sustainable growth.

“We are always experimenting to seeing what we can do to improve. We are always fine-tuning,” affirmed Baltimore Downtown Restoration President, Steve Cothrel.

This spectrum encompasses events such as the Baltimore Business Forum, to be held on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Victoria Opera House. This gathering is designed to foster discourse for businesses and residents who call downtown Baltimore home. Meanwhile, programs such as the Baltimore Farmers Market, returning Tuesday evenings this summer to the Ace Hardware property, support sustainable agriculture and economic opportunity.Arts and entertainment are also features of the Baltimore Downtown Restoration Committee, with the Victoria Players Children’s Theater hosting auditions in April for their newest production, “The Little Mermaid.” Concerts, beer tastings and other social gatherings have rounded out the BDRC’s efforts, building momentum in Baltimore and beyond.

But, as Cothrel notes, such efforts can only be maintained through the passion of local advocates, many of whom donate time and resources to the community they love.

“We have a great corps of volunteers – those who serve on our Board and those who help with events. And we are always looking for people who are interested in helping out,” he explained.

With this in mind, volunteers with a commitment to the Village of Baltimore may lend their talent to the BDRC Board of Directors, which meets on the third Thursday every month, at 7 p.m., at the Victoria Opera House. Open to the public, these meetings can provide an opportunity to understand the mission of the BDRC, while learning about emerging community initiatives.

For those seeking other engagement opportunities, Cothrel shared that Baltimore Farmer’s Market is seeking volunteers, as well as vendors offering unique and handmade items, confections, seasonal decor, and other goods. Food trucks are also sought to support the family atmosphere of the event.

And, just like any nonprofit, the BDRC depends on the generosity of individuals and businesses whose charitable gifts empower their vision for a thriving Baltimore.

For those who wish to invest in this grassroots movement, Baltimore Downtown Restoration membership starts at $40 a year. According to Cothrel, the Committee’s goal for 2023 is fifty members, with the membership drive launching in January. Such memberships enable a reliable source of charitable support, while providing incentives for members, such as BDRC-branded membership gifts.

Business owners, or those seeking to support a specific initiative, may also consider event sponsorships for the Farmer’s Market and Victoria Players Children’s Theater, which afford recognition for donors and companies.

Whether community members choose to volunteer, donate, or attend an event, they are empowering a big movement in a small town – one that remembers local history and empowers local economies. In an increasingly global marketplace, such opportunities to support our local landscape are rare. And while the people and events associated with these movements may be familiar, they can also be lastingly transformative, precisely because they are in our own back yards.

For more information on the charitable mission of Baltimore Downtown Restoration, or to review membership and volunteer opportunities, please visit https://baltimoredowntownrestoration.com/.

Upcoming events

Registration is open for Watercolor 101, with Instructor Lisa Schorr. Held at the Decorative Arts Center on Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 12 to 1:30 p.m., this event is open to beginners. Supplies are provided. Cost for the event is $68 for DACO members and $75 for non-members. To register for this session, visit http://www.decartsohio.org/.

Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. The Ohio Glass Museum offers its Fused Glass Monster Magnets workshop, for ages five and up. Participants will make two glass monster magnets, using bits of brightly colored glass for monster bodies and facial features. Cost for the glass is $35. For more information, please visit https://www.ohioglassmuseum.org.

On Sunday, Jan. 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the 2023 United Way Polar Plunge returns to Buckeye Lake Winery. For those who wish to stay dry, the event will also include music, food, wine, and a costume contest. Individual registration is $35, and $120 for a team of four. To register for the event, please visit United Way of Fairfield County at uwayfairfieldco.org.

If you would like to have an initiative profiled in this column, please reach out to me at tkellyfairfieldcounty@gmail.com!