|Crystal Laughlin Mersh, West Virginia native and president and CEO of Quality Executive Partners, Inc., a globally recognized management consulting firm, hopes to spark a period of revitalization in Calhoun County by helping develop her former high school into a mixed-used community center.|
With a $1 million gift, Mersh has laid the groundwork for a project that will see the 100-year-old Calhoun County High School building modernized into a facility featuring classrooms, meeting rooms, AirBnb rooms, office and retail space, a gym, swimming pool and a daycare.
Mersh, who graduated from Calhoun County High School in 1982 and now lives in Atlanta, said she has long wanted to give back to the community where she grew up.
"West Virginia is always going to be my home and in particular Calhoun County," she said.
So she founded the 1982 Foundation and purchased the former school, which closed its doors in 1998.
Her initial endowment will seed the project's $3 million budget, Mersh said.
"Our mission really is to help the folks in Calhoun County to really help themselves," she said. "We want to put in a community center that will be self-funding, a non-profit but will generate revenue such that the operation can continue on and provide necessities like daycare and day camps for kids at subsidized cost and really do something that's good for the kids of the county."
The foundation hopes to generate $1 million through fundraising efforts and $1 million through grants, Mersh said.
The foundation is hosting a free picnic and program Saturday at Wayne Underwood Field, with about 600 already registered for the event.