November will see a new fundraising focus by the Homestead Education Center for infrastructure improvements to the J.L. King Center.

Alison Buehler, of the Homestead Education Center, a nonprofit focused on teaching sustainability and improving the community, said the community center had been a focus for fundraising for the last three years.

Last year, the organization raised over $20,000 as part of the Lighthouse Project, an effort to keep supplying the J.L. King Center with necessary money.

While that money did keep the center going, Buehler said this year her organization decided to try and create more permanent fixes.

In a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Starkville Utilities, Buehler said the month of November would be dedicated to raising $8,000 to match that same amount already put in by the TVA and Starkville Utilities.

The $16,000, Buehler said, would be used to renovate parts of the J.L. King Center to make it more energy efficient.

Buehler praised the efforts of staff at the center to cut costs, noting they had gotten costs "as low as they could go."

However, she said the building still had some glaring issues costing unnecessary amounts of money.

The major problems, Buehler said, were gaps around doors, outdated glass that was not good at insulating the building and a lack of room-by-room climate control, racking up costs by heating and cooling the entire building rather than rooms in use.

"They're basically trying to heat and cool the outdoors," Buehler said.

Buehler said the money saved by reducing utilities costs would directly benefit the after school youth program, which serves roughly 45 young people. Buehler said that program was the most important thing the J.L. King Center had to offer because it was the best way to help struggling kids in the community improve their grades.

"The goal is to get every kid passing every class," Buehler said. "These utilities changes will basically help fund the youth building."

Beyond helping the youth program, Buehler said she was excited to see Starkville Utilities use the building as a model for other small business looking to cut costs through sustainable, energy-efficient measures.

Buehler said seminars would be held in the building after the improvements were implemented to help teach community members about the benefits of investing in energy-efficient upgrades to existing buildings.

"In a lot of cases, with the money saved on utilities, in a year you've paid back the costs," Buehler said.

Currently, the Homestead Education Center has raised $3,865 toward its $8,000 goal.

Buehler said she had asked donors in the past for more and they had come through, spotlighting community's ability to raise money for good causes.

"I have faith we will reach it this year," Buehler said.

While no timeline exists yet for the improvements to be made, fundraising for the J.L. King Center will continue through November as part of the Homestead Education Center's Helping Hands program.

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