The small North Carolina mountain town of Canton (population 4,227) could be seeing a lot of Motown legend Gladys Knight.
Entrepreneur William McDowell – Knight’s husband since 2001 – has unveiled a plan to turn a dilapidated, segregation-era high school building into a new community center for low-income people in Canton, his hometown, reports the Smoky Mountain News. Canton is about 135 miles northwest of Charlotte.
The catch is that his plan for the old Reynolds High School has a $5 million fundraising goal, said the News. Project organizers said that Knight would perform some “charity concerts” to help fund the effort. Among them might be a show this summer at a nearby football field, it was reported.
Plans call for the center, which is in a low-income area, to provide child care, exercise and performing arts facilities, a food pantry, substance abuse counseling and even musical instruction, said a story on the Smoky Mountain News website.
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“I would like for it to be a safe haven, so to speak,” Knight told the Smoky Mountain News. “You can get educated, taken care of. If you’re hungry you’ll get fed. You can learn here.”
McDowell bought the 20,000-square-foot building at auction for $80,000 in 2013, it was reported.
A similar effort for the site went nowhere in 2014, the News reported, but Knight and McDowell appeared at a “kickoff” event on Feb. 28, where they “further explained the goals of the foundation and charted a financial path forward.”
For details, visit www.rhs-foundation.com.