WYTHEVILLE, Va. – The Wythe County Board of Supervisors recently recognized the Open Door Café and encouraged citizens to support National Everybody Eats Week.

Hope Inc. Executive Director Andy Kegley said officials across the nation are striving to raise awareness this week for those dealing with food insecurities during National Everybody Eats Week.   

Kegley said pay-what-you-can restaurants are trying to draw attention to the pay-what-you-can model and the food insecurities in our communities.

 “Almost 12 percent of our population in Wythe County meets the definition of food insecure which means they may not know where their next meal is coming from,” Kegley said.

The Open Door Café will participate in National Everybody Eats Week, a week long campaign hosted by One World Everybody Eats, which aims to build community and dignity around food.

The Open Door Café is improving lives at the local level by minimizing the number of hungry children, adults, and seniors in our community. With over 15,000 lunches served since opening in November, it is sustained by 57 percent of donors supporting the 43 percent of customers unable to pay the full price.

Over $83,000 was donated for meals in this period, with another $95,000 raised from other sources.

National Everybody Eats Week aims to unify the efforts of over 50 affiliate pay-what-you-can community cafés working to decrease hunger across the nation.

“In January, during the federal government shut down, food stamps were issued ten days early on January 20,” Kegley said. “Various people said that’s going to be a problem for families that receive food stamps because they don’t last a month. It’s hard to budget food stamps to get you through the month. In the middle of February we noticed the ratio of people paying us more than $8 a meal (which is the suggested price) versus those paying less than $8, which is a subsidized meal, had changed. Normally, it’s running 60/40 or 55/45 where 60 percent of the customers are supporting 40 percent of the customers. In the middle of February it went to 40/60 for the last two weeks.”

Kegley said it took a few moments to figure out that people had run out of food stamps during that time period.

“It took us a couple of minutes to connect the dots, and realize that people ran out of their food stamps in the middle of February,” Kegley said. “It’s the dead of winter, we were serving a free hot meal, so we were meeting our mission right there. That’s our mission, feeding those who are hungry.”

Kegley said the restaurant averages around 90 meals a day.

“What makes us different is our business model which converts customers into donors,” Kegley said. “You can eat lunch there and you can pay eight cents or eight dollars or you can buy a 100 dollars’ worth of meal tokens to support paying it forward for other people. That’s what sets us apart and makes us a really creative way to address food insecurity.”

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Wythe County officials, please call Blake Stowers at 276-223-4522 or email Blake at [email protected]

Presbyterian Children’s Home of the Highlands to Celebrate 100 Years Sept. 21

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – The Presbyterian Children’s Home of the Highlands started at Foster Falls in Wythe County in 1919. It has been home to thousands of children from throughout Southwest Virginia during its 100 year history.

According to Executive Director Billy Rice, PCHH started in a two story cinder block building.
“It started as an industrial home for girls,” Rice said. “A year later it started taking boys and we’ve been co-ed ever since.”

Rice said the children stay in cottages with house parents at PCHH. He said a great majority of the children come from the 19 counties west of Roanoke.

“The kid’s get up, do chores, go to school,” Rice said. “They have free time and study time. They are involved in counseling to deal with issues that they brought with them. We try to show them what a normal day would be like. Some come from homes where they would go home and worry about who’s going to hit you or worry about who’s going to be on drugs. Academics are an afterthought in homes like that. We work with them here and make sure they have academic opportunities.”

Rice said seeing children grow into trusting individuals is the best part of his job.
“One of the truest joys of what we do is to watch a child go from unable to trust anyone or feel that they should be loved and watch them blossom into a person that can do that,” Rice said. “To react to a different kind of life, a life where you don’t have to live the way you were treated. It’s the ultimate reward to have a family come back and to see them raising their family and not us.”

PCHH Administrative Director Wynette Yontz said she is excited to celebrate 100 years of helping children from across the region.

“I’m excited,” Wynette Yontz said. “I’ve been here 43 of those 100 years. When I first came we had 30 children, pretty much all the time. When you see a child come back and say I don’t know what would have happened to me if it wasn’t for the children’s home. When people ask me our success rate, I say 100 percent because they get to learn there is a different way of life. There are so many that don’t realize what their experiencing is not normal.”

Rice wanted to thank all the faithful donors that make the children’s home possible.

“We couldn’t have done any of this without the faithful donors over the past 100 years,” Rice said. “Thousands of people have lived here. This is where they live while they are here. There are lots of success stories. We have a long term resident that’s getting ready to graduate from UVA-Wise as a Darden Scholar.”

PCHH Development Director Dale Yontz said unconditional love and a family atmosphere are two of the concepts that help influence the children’s lives in a positive matter.

“The children’s home is something that provides to children of all walks of life,” Yontz said. “We’re able to impact children through showing them unconditional love. We’re able to influence children from different backgrounds and expose children to a true family atmosphere.”

The 100th Anniversary event will be held on September 21st, 2019. Officials encourage everyone to come and help celebrate 100 years of service to children.

“Places like ours become even more important as a resource as time goes on,” Rice said. “We are committed to be a children’s home into the next century of our service.”


WYTHEVILLE, Va. – With students heading back to school across the county, the Rural Retreat Pool will be taking on an abbreviated operating schedule.

Operating hours from August 17th to September 1st will be Saturday from 12 noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.  In addition, the pool will be open on Labor Day, Monday September 2, from 12 noon to 6 p.m.  

Wythe County Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Williams commented on the great summer season at the Rural Retreat Pool.  “The amount of hot sunny days has been numerous this year,” Williams said. “It aided in the success of a great pool season. I am appreciative of our manager and lifeguards who did a magnificent job at keeping the pool clean, safe, and inviting. They also did a great job at providing a refreshing location for our citizens and campers.”

The outstanding weather and high demand resulted in the pool being open seven days a week during the month of July.  However, with students returning to school this week it is necessary to be closed during the week days. 

The pool will close for the season following the Labor Day Weekend. 

Williams also said the last day of camping for the season will be September 8, 2019. The lake remains open 365 days a year.

For more information or to learn more about Rural Retreat Lake call 276-686-4331 or visit: http://ruralretreatlake.com/.

Camping and shelter rates can also be found online at the Rural Retreat Lake website:

 http://ruralretreatlake.com/reservations-rates-rural-retreat-lake/. Rural Retreat Lake is a 90-acre impoundment owned by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. Located just south of the community of Rural Retreat, Va., the lake is surrounded by the Rural Retreat Lake Park, a recreational facility operated by Wythe County.