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Gladys Knight starts fundraising effort for community
center to invest in future of the youth
Article By Associated Press // EEW Magazine
Posted March 6, 2017
Photo Courtesy of Talbots
Gladys Knight says being married to a western North Carolina native has turned her into a
country girl at heart, and she's hoping to turn that new affection into possibly the best thing that's
ever happened to Canton.

Asheville Citizen-Times reports Knight and William "Billy" McDowell, a Canton native, have
launched a fundraising campaign for the Reynolds Community Center at the site of Reynolds
High School.

Organizers need to raise up to $5 million to renovate the 20,000-square-foot building, which was
constructed in 1930 and was functional until 1966. It was once the only African-American high
school in western North Carolina west of Asheville.

When finished, the 6.5-acre property will provide multiple services, from a music center to
counseling for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

The family purchased the site at auction in 2015 for $80,000.

"I know this is where we are supposed to be," said the Seven-time GRAMMY® Award-winning
Christian soul singer last week while speaking in front of the remains of the school in an area
where lots of the houses are in bad condition, even deteriorating. Foundations of the school and
home are reportedly sinking, windows are smashed in and paint is chipped away due to years of
the properties not being cared for by anyone.

Knight, 72, says the children are slipping away and need help, which the community is
responsible for giving them.

"We're losing our children all over the world, not just here. And they are the future and they are
the coming of tomorrow. And if we don't give them what our parents and our grandparents gave
us, they are a lost generation," she said.

The singer known as "The Empress of Soul" remembers how positively community centers
impacted her life as a child, giving her a place to create, play and develop a strong sense of
community. "Little things like that give you the inspiration to go on to do other things that you
never knew you could," she said. "That's what this school is all about."

It's not surprising that the big-hearted songstress wants to help others. It's part of her makeup
and a way of giving back to others because of all the great things God has given to her in her

In a 2014 interview Knight said, "Since I've been so wonderfully blessed, I really want to share
and to make life at least a little better."

She added, “So every chance I get to share the gospel or uplift people, I will take full advantage
of that opportunity.”
Copyright © 2017-2020 Empowering Everyday Women Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
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