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Our Story

Old Colonial School Image

Our story. God’s story.

We were attempting a seemingly impossible task. We had before the Botetourt Board of Economic Development a proposal for the old Colonial Elementary building on Webster Rd. The county built a new school and moved in January of 2021. The old building had a request for proposal due at the end of July 2022. We submitted a proposal, our first ever, as did an established developer.

Let me backup a little. In 2021 there were several people who were presenting to the school board about several concerns. Believing their requests were falling on deaf ears, they changed tactics. They decided to take it all the way to the top, they started a prayer group. They met every Sunday. They prayed for homeschool families to have the ability stay the course. They prayed the school board would see the impact curriculum was having on our children. They prayed for the Christian schools in the area would remain faithful and grow. This group has come to be called the Biblical Education Coalition.

In June of 2022 they invited me, Vera Wilson to come present to them about the homeschool academy that I started in 2015. Truthfully, I didn’t really know what this group was, I went prepared to give a history of homeschooling. They wanted to know how my academy was structured, who we serve and how they could specifically pray for us. My response to the latter was, a building, we need a space, typically a church, that would be happy we were there. To partner with a church that understood our mission and goals and not feel we were just there to wear out their carpets would be ideal.

Two days after this presentation at the prayer group, one of the members, Cindy Bandy, called to tell me about a building that was empty and coming up for proposal in 4 days. Well we were out, that was too fast. Upon rereading, we realized we had 34 days. Could we do it? We met with a couple of community members who were invested in the school building. They were both alumnae of the school, and still in the neighborhood of the school.

 

Mrs Sue, made a call and our meeting suddenly became a tour of the school. We did not know what to think. We certainly did feel that God was opening doors. Mrs. Sue and Ms. Carolyn liked our idea and believed the community would support it. Another door open?

 

At the end of our tour, we sat in an empty library to pray together. As we were walking out the same way we walked in, I found a note on the floor, none of us remembered seeing it on our way in. "Boldness is the missing ingredient." Since then we have reminded each other, boldness, as we have each step out of our comfort zones and our typical roles.

The Bandys met with a developer who had previously written proposals. I met with an accountant who would explain to me how to apply for non profit status with the IRS. We wrote and rewrote. Met with people. Prayed a lot. I filled out IRS paperwork, and submitted late on a Friday night, I sent it off with a prayer, “God deliver this to a Christian IRS agent.”

 

The amount of times I used ‘Biblical Worldview’, I thought that was the only way we would get approval. Ten days later, a letter from the IRS arrived with my name on it, my husband handed it to me with angst. I opened it knowing full well it was too soon for an answer. I was wrong! We got approval in 4 days. IRS approval in four days. Another door open. Six Forty Corporation was official.

We submitted our proposal. Knowing we had no money in hand, we asked the county to pay for all repairs. We later learned that there was one other proposal, one from an established developer. A developer known by the county. Stiff competition. Because of circumstances unknown to us, we were encouraged by the board to have a meeting with the other proposal holder. We did. The meeting started a bit rough. But in the end, he stated that he would withdraw his proposal and support us. What??? Another door open!


David Bandy called some friends and acquaintances and presented our plan, and they joined our team. John Garland, another developer, upon our first meeting told us that it was a horrible idea. He stated that empty schools like he has developed into housing would be too costly. Abandon the idea. We didn’t. We took him to tour the building. He changed his mind. Another door? He created a punch list and an estimate.

We had several meetings with various people, trying to learn anything and everything. We truly did not even know what we did not know. We left each meeting and at times, simply out of desperation, prayed, “God show us the next step.” We prayed often that if this is not where we should be spending our time and energy close the door.

Knowing that there would need to be perpetual funding necessary, I was praying for God to reveal options. My daughter, a long time thrift seller, suggested a thrift store. We started looking for space. Knowing our budget, it was slim pickins. I called an old friend, a commercial real estate guy. He said he would look around. Within a week, he called me with an option of space, bigger and better than we could have imagined or asked for, at an amazing price. DOOR OPEN! God is so good!

We were called by the Board of Economic development to come to meet with the board so they could ask us questions. Thankfully, John Garland was there and addressed many of the questions about the building and such. I answered as best I could about how we would use the building. Homeschool co-ops, sports teams, an entrepreneurial kitchen. Classes and courses all with a Biblical Worldview. A library with books safe for kids. Community events. A local museum. Community space for rentals. A children’s theater. So many things. Lifelong learning opportunities. Missions classes. Music classes. PT/OT services. Speech and counseling. So many things!

The county gave us a month, asked that we secure support and funding. And re-submit our proposal without the request for repairs. Ouch. But remember, the estimate John did? It was so much lower than the county’s estimate before they built the new building. There are repairs that needed to be done, specifically a roof, and subsequent repair from water leakage.

 

Since then, we have been adopted by a matching donor for the amount of $250,000, and they paid $100,000 for roof repairs! We still have $150,000 of the matching pledge to claim before June 30, 2024, and that's your role!

Progress so far includes:

  • Roof repaired

  • Mold removed

  • Asbestos removed

  • Termites treated

  • Gym floor repaired

  • Zoning approved (private school)

  • Much painting and cleaning

  • Numerous smaller repairs

There is MUCH more to do to get the school ready to open in Fall 2024. We are still working with professionals to determine all the details to obtain a certificate of occupancy from the local county.

Our $150,000 matching pledge expires June 30, 2024 -- Can you Give?

 

Can you give? Can you volunteer? Can you pray?

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