Waynesboro and Augusta County schools are near the finish line for the Post High House and Learning Lab, and one local insurance agency has stepped up to do its part to help bring the project to completion.
Valley Trust Insurance Group has already had employees volunteer with painting and cleaning – working to get the home ready for use this Fall.
Now, Valley Trust has offered to match community donations up to $2,000, to make this house a home. While the construction and appliances have been funded, it’s the little things that are still needed – handicap-accessible furniture, furnishings, decorations, landscaping. Costs for these finishing touches are estimated at $7,500.
The home is a joint effort of the two school systems offered to students age 18 to 22 requiring independent living and employment support after high school. The program is currently operated out of Wilson Memorial High School.
The first day of use of the Post High House and Learning Lab is planned for October 15.
Rachel Dorton is one of the students who are looking forward to the completion of the Post High House. Her father, Mark, is an owner of Valley Trust Insurance.
“We are very passionate about this project,” said Mark Dorton. “Not only because my daughter is in the program, but other employees of Valley Trust have children with special needs also.
“As an agency,” he said, “we want to help our community where there is a genuine need.”
Rachel’s mother, Marcy, has a degree in interior decorating. She has volunteered with painting and cleaning at the house and offered to help students hang photos and decorate the home. She said her daughter has made so much progress through the Post High program – more than she could do herself at home.
“Rachel is learning day to day living skills, budgeting, interviews and job skills,” said Marcy Dorton. “In Post High, Rachel has had the opportunity to work four different jobs, go on interviews and be proud of herself and her accomplishments.”
The one thing missing, Marcy said, is the feeling of independence you only get from taking care of yourself in a house setting.
“This home will give all these young adults the opportunity to learn the skills needed and that feeling of independence,” she said. “What a gift not only for my daughter but for all those coming up after her.”
Mark Dorton said that one young man in the program told him that the Post High House would be his day home.
“We want to make it beautiful for him and the rest of his ‘day’ family,” Mark said.
The fundraising drive initiated by Valley Trust and the Dortons is aimed at really making this place a home for the students during school hours.
“This project is special to me because it creates unique opportunities for students,” said Dr. Ryan N. Barber, director of student services for Waynesboro Public Schools. “It has tremendous community support.”
Barber credits the support of Augusta County Schools, the Shenandoah Valley Regional Program, the United Way of Greater Augusta, the Waynesboro Augusta Women’s Club and numerous other community partners and volunteers for the success of this project.
“I believe the families and caregivers will have peace of mind that their child is practicing independent living skills in an authentic, structured and supportive environment,” said Barber. “After participating in the programming at the home, the students will be more ready to enter the workforce and live independently.”
To donate to the Post High House project, visit https://www.gofundme.com/post-high-building-fund
Feature Image: Mark Dorton, with his daughter, Rachel, inside the Post High House